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My experience of International Foundation Year


Hello, I am your international student executive officer Franks Feng and currently work at Leeds University Union. I was 17 years old when I was in my foundation year, which is also my starting page of my journey. It is my third year in Leeds now, and I am sure you will learn something from my journey.

My major is Sociology and Social policy. Luckily, I love this major and it has a close link to journalism. I didn't learn Sociology before IFY. For each module we have a lecture and a seminar session to go through what we have learnt. I also went to open door sessions of all modules, which gave me a chance to talk to my tutor individually and make sure that you followed up everything. I think it is important for you to not feel shy and ask the questions. When I was in China, we tended to ask questions after class, but in the UK you are encouraged to ask questions all the time in lecture as well as seminar. Your lecturer and tutor will be pleased to be challenged. I always looked through the lecture slides first and searched all the new words I couldn't understand, this helped me follow up the speed during the lecture.

We also had academic study skill module. I wish I could have spent more time working on it and treated it seriously! You will learn how to write an essay, how to do a group discussion, how to read the textbook in a right way to find out the most useful information. These little things are your foundation to achieve huge things in the future. I know you may feel a bit bored at first, but it will be the best thing you need to do during the IFY. During the rest of IFY you won't be able to find another time to learn these essential skills. You may also have other modules that is not related to your future major, but all the things you learn will be useful in sometime unpredictable in the future.

Students who are under the age of 18, are provided with a mentor, they can meet you monthly and you will be fully taken care of when there is a day trip. I also meet my personal tutor once every two weeks, who taught me how to find out who I want to be in university, instead of living in others expectation as a 'successful student'. Your personal tutor will be your close friend throughout your study. You can trust them and discuss things which are concerning you.  Some of my friends changed their major several time too during the foundation year. You should spend more time to find out whether it is a major that you are passionate to study for the next three years.

There is nothing in the world that you can simply define it is a good thing or bad thing, even if it is pandemic that hinder us enjoy our campus life. I was lucky enough to study the IFY program before the pandemic. Some of you may definitely be jealous as to how excited I felt. In my opinion, the reason why I am willing to travel 14 hours flight away from China, to challenge myself live and study in an unfamiliar society, is that I enjoy the experience of culture difference. I bought a camera as my birthday gift to Leeds, I took lots of photo everyday, included beautiful architecture, local city festivals such as light night and music festivals in the summer, and my first time trying to cook meals from different cultures with my international friends. Meanwhile, I couldn’t remember how many societies I tried in order to figure out what is my passion. I was not confident speaking English to others, but I knew I don’t have a decade of time to wait. University is supposed to provide us a chance to figure out who we want to be, while in IFY you can learn all the skills to support you to achieve that.

Still, I wish I could have spent more time to reflect what I have learned everyday, and learn how to stay alone in room, instead of hanging out with friends or joined endless societies events in my time table. Until the second semester, I started to slow down my footprint to give myself more time to learn better. This help me handle the academic challenge, and considered what is the difference between Leeds and my own city. I started to critically reflect on what I have learned based on inevitable stereotype, understanding we are living in a huge world that I can learn something new every day. I visited different cities in UK, which is organised by university union. This gave me a chance to explore the way people behave, the diverse languages used besides English, numerous nature landscapes and museums shaped my new thought for art and history.

Finally, I wanted to say plan your time wisely. A majority of students in this world are not able to be as lucky as us to get a chance to study abroad. University should not be a place to mainly focus on your future job, rather, I believe all of us should spend time to think and try the things we are interested in, to figure out who we want to be based on the knowledge and experience we have. To get involved in meaningful events such as climate change. With the support provided in IFY it will be a new chapter for your life journey.