MY EXPERIENCE AS AN INTERNATIONAL NURSING STUDENT
I can distinctly remember the rush of emotions I felt when I first came to Keele – mostly excitement followed by a surge of anxiety! I was thrilled to start a new chapter in my life, but moving thousands of miles away from the comfort of my own home into a foreign place was both daunting and difficult to say the least. However, these fears and worries soon disappeared over time as I was welcomed warmly by the Keele community.
VISA APPLICATION AND PROCESS
Applying to a university is stressful for any person but there are a bountiful of other things to consider as an international student in contrast to a UK home student. For example, securing health insurance to attaining a certificate of good conduct and proof of finances. Thankfully, UCAS does an amazing job at informing and guiding students on the process of application so that you may access support with an adviser or independently apply like I did.
To apply for a visa, you would need a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) statement which will be issued by the university following your successful application. In addition, you would also need to take a separate English language test approved by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) Department, such as the IELTS to prove your proficiency in English. It’s important to remember this before you can submit an application for a Tier 4 student visa through UKVI. This may all seem intimidating and overwhelming, but it’s definitely doable! I was paranoid about things going wrong but do not be discouraged as your university will aid you greatly with your visa application, as Keele did with me.
Keeping a checklist of all the necessary requirements kept me sane during these times.
Keele University was also great at supporting me when I had questions relating to the application process and before I knew it, I got my visa stamped and was ready to apply for accommodation on campus!
Owing to the fact that not all universities in the UK offer health courses such as Nursing to international students, I was delighted to hear that Keele did! I first heard of Keele when I had attended an Open University event in Bahrain and spoke to some representatives.
As Keele University was one of the top ten in Nursing and Midwifery in the UK at the time, I felt it was a good choice to apply. Another convincing reason was the solid history of high student satisfaction within Keele University. Following my arrival, it did not disappoint as the campus was beautiful and full of life.
Since Keele University works in close partnership with the local trust, you can expect to be guided and supported throughout your time both in theory and in practice. This is vital as a student nurse - I found that I would spend majority of my academic year in placement and having a solid support system that facilitated my learning did ease my worries.
The University Hospital of North Midlands (UHNM), is one of the largest hospitals in the country, with an extensive variety of staff from different expertise and backgrounds that I have had the pleasure of working alongside and learning from. Being an international student, you will occasionally feel home-sick from time to time. Opting in during the Covid-19 pandemic prevented me from going back home so the support from my peers who are like my second family have been invaluable. I am currently in my third year in nursing and I can say gladly that it has been life-changing. It will be quite the journey but you’ll learn to develop relationships within the interprofessional team and undergo a plethora of experiences that will interest, surprise and challenge you to grow as an individual and a professional.
TIPS AND ADVICE
Prioritise tasks you have to do on your arrival – Set aside time to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card as these needs to be done within your first 10 days of arrival to the UK.
Try and involve yourself in as many events and societies as you can through-out the years! I think it’s even more important for international students to put themselves out there to fully make use of your time here as they go by in a flash!
Attend welcome week event – Keele University dedicates a week just for international students to get orientated with the city and socialise with each other prior to arrival of home students.
Take your time choosing a bank as others may offer more perks and benefits, such as a student discount card or railcard for international students.
Ask a friend or a student ambassador to familiarise you with the local transport. There are apps and student passes you can avail for in any transport service in the UK as per your needs.
Download the Keele University app - it also has a section for international students and provides a detailed checklist for necessary documents.
Lastly, enjoy your time in university and properly explore the UK and what it has to offer!