The only reason I took the pre-sessional program was that this is my first time to study abroad. I had never practised my English in a formal academic environment nor had a formal academic debate using English. It would be totally different between speaking English in a daily conversation with arguing in a scholarly discussion. I am also aware that British universities have a certain standard in research/essay writing and I absolutely had zero knowledge about it then. I was quite nervous wondering if I could survive the first term of my study with my decent English skill. However, the English Pre-sessional program offered by the University of Leeds answers to my anxiety.
I took the 6-week pre-sessional program because I think that’s the ideal duration for me to ‘warm-up’ prior to my study (our Uni has 6-week, ten-week and longer courses). To begin with, the program helps me to familiarise with our university’s system. In the University of Leeds, we use an online platform called ‘MINERVA’ to access all study-related material. From basic student information, class schedule, submit your work, check our grade, access module material, to access to online learning, almost everything. The pre-sessional program makes me familiar with the operational of MINERVA and I don’t have any more confusion since the first day of my real study program, especially to get information about class schedule and location.
During the program, I have classes from Monday to Friday. The subjects that are taught are designed to attune us with the load of the assignments and the writing standard applied in our University, to exercise an academic seminar and presentation and to give a comprehensive simulation of teaching activity in class. In writing class, for instance, there are subjects that are focused on how to do citing, academic references, bibliography, essay structure and important academic vocabularies/sentences. The program is indeed provided me with a whole range of academic writing guidance and practices that I personally received a huge help to improve my writing skill.
We were also taught to make a powerful presentation. We did a regular practice of our speaking and debating skills, by conducting a round-table group discussion. We were trained to do a proper academic agreement/disagreement statement and to deliver our opinion using appropriate academic language and ethics. For a first-timer to study in an international environment and curriculum like me, this program is very beneficial to support my study. If I may conclude in a simple word of why I value this program, it would be this: “I don’t want to waste my precious opportunity to study in here with low grade, just because my writing/presentation skill is below our University’s standard. That is why this Pre-sessional program is very important to me”.
During the program, we get an assignment and exam as well. I remember my final assignments were an essay (1000 words), an individual presentation on the refugee crisis and a group project (making a poster). By the end of the program, I felt ready to do my MA at the University of Leeds.
Apart from academic support, pre-sessional was also my moment to build friendships. Because I arrived in Leeds early, I started the pre-sessional program before my MA started, so I had more time to make friends, travel and get used to Leeds life.
During the weeks of the program, our campus held countless supportive events to accommodate our social life and academic life. For instance, book sharing, culture talk, quiz, and even travelling session. I highly suggest you to actively participate in these programs to make as many friends as you can, to practise your speaking skill and just to have fun. There was no day passed by staying at home for me. I did a lot of activities to learn and network. I spent the weekend exploring neighbouring cities (York, Manchester, Liverpool) with other international students. Here’s the picture when we went to York with a large group of friends from many nationalities; Chinese, Korean, Japan also Indonesian. That was one of the best days of my life. We haven’t yet started the study, means we didn’t know yet the crazy load of essays (LOL!), all we know was have fun travelling with friends.
We also did potluck in another weekend. This is my favourite kind of hang out with friends. Bring your national food and try other national foods. Oh.. Back in those days… I miss those moments!
Anyway, especially for Indonesian students who are coming and wondering how does the Indonesian community look like in here, there you go I’m telling you. Don’t worry, you’ll meet many Indonesians. PPI Greater Leeds is one of the biggest PPI in the UK with around 130 members. We regularly hold a gathering and normally we always have a gathering to welcome new students.
Finally, if you consider taking a pre-sessional program, I’d say go for it. I personally felt it a very helpful academic ‘warming up’ before I started my MA program. Socially speaking, my close friends here in Leeds were made when we all did the pre-sessional course together!