A Step Across the World

My name is Rabab Kassam, and I’m currently a third year Pharmacy student at the University of Nottingham. This article is in essence, a continuation of my educational journey from Malaysia to the U.K.

I will begin from where I penned off in my previous article. By the grace of God, I successfully completed my first two years of the MPharm degree at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. Being a twinning program, it was expected of me to transfer to the University Park Campus in Nottingham to complete my final two years.

The university offers a £3000 scholarship for students who transfer over to the U.K with commendable grades. Alhamdullilah, I was eligible for the scholarship and as I write this, I am well into the second semester of my third year.

At this position, I believe I have enough experience to relate the change I experienced as I stepped across the worlds. Having a very flexible and easily adaptable disposition, I didn’t experience any difficult times as such when I transferred. However, I will highlight some of the evident changes that I was faced with during this journey.

To begin with, the quality of education and the manner in which the lectures are conducted at the University Park Campus are identical to what goes on in the Malaysia campus, perhaps the only difference being the vast classroom sizes. Due to the small number of students in my batch back home, each student was treated as an individual, and we had a close rapport with all of our lecturers. On this side of the world however, you realize that your just one of the many hundreds of faces in class and the only time you see you lecturer, is in the large lecture theaters.

Another major difference is the size of the two campuses. Where as it would take me only about 5 minutes to walk across the Malaysia campus, here, walking across the entire campus is more like a half an hour journey.

In terms of general survival, food is not so much of a big problem. At least not for me. Coming from a background where I was spoilt for food choices, being here on my own has taught me to somewhat appreciate culinary arts, if I may. The variety of food available here, is endless, and enough to satisfy different taste buds. There’s also always the infamous option of take-away, and being in a student city such a Nottingham, almost every road has a strategically located fast food chain.

Another controversial change is the weather. It is also by far the most popular topic in daily conversations. I have walked through autumn, winter and a bit of spring and all I can say is that one should be ready to be bundled up in layers of wool in order to remain warm. Perhaps what I admired the most was the diverse change in scenery that each season brought along with it.

Due to the immense number of international students, it’s not too hard to find your own clique. As a student studying abroad, I think it is essential to be able to make the right set of friends, and possibly more vital is the skill to differentiate between the right and the wrong, the good and the bad.

One of the things I have enjoyed most while being here, is the chance that God has given me to travel and explore His wonderful creation. On my days off, or on weekends, I look at the local maps, and set off to where my heart pleases. As such, I have been blessed to have visited a number of cities in the U.K and the list of places I still want to visit is by no means exhaustive. I pray that He gives me the chance and capability to further explore the country. Being out and about also helps keeps my mind off things and gives me the opportunity to appreciate the different cultures.

My primary aim of coming here was to complete my final two years, and thus, education remains my top priority. Progressing into the third and final year of my degree is akin to stepping into the deep end. It’s difficult, especially sometimes when all you need is being amongst familiarity which we fondly call ‘home’. Nevertheless, being away from home should remind oneself of the reason they are there.

I have always thought that being left to build up on your own broadens your mind and makes you stronger as an individual which is why I thank the Almighty with every breath I take that He has been so kind as to grant me this invaluable opportunity.

Change is inevitable, and personal success lies in being able to accept it.


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