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In his latest blog post, BA History student Tzuching Chu tells us about what interests him the most as an international student studying History at the University of Birmingham

Tzuching Chu in front of clock tower on campus

What interests me as an international student is learning about all the nitty-gritty details of British history that I normally wouldn’t learn from the high school courses I took in Hong Kong, which just cover the more broad events on what happened in Britain such as the Industrial Revolution or decolonization of British colonial territories.

The modules I took on Black and LGBTQ+ history in Britain revealed a lot of interesting legislation that I, a Chinese-American wasn’t aware of. 

In addition, being in the UK has also let me come into close contact with historical items and local presentation of history in ways that I never would’ve come to know if I hadn’t gone to the University of Birmingham.

For example, Section 28 as a former British law was discussed in my third year module, 'Gross Indecency to Gay Marriage? Gender and Sexual Minorities in Britain', as one case of British legislation regarding LGBTQ+ topics in education. It was notably something that even shocked students that had grown up in the UK for such a law to have been repealed in recent memory with long-lasting effects that continue even after its retraction as law. 

And related to that, being able to see various items up and close in the University’s Barber Institute relevant to my modules was also another interesting aspect of British history that was a very cool part of the course. There’s a big difference between reading about how relics or coins can be weathered by time or human touch and seeing the actual items, battered and bruised but not gone, in front of you.

In addition, learning about what the blue plaques are in my 'Public History' module and how certain controversies have been evoked by the selection of figures to represent in my 'Black in the Union Jack' module have given the blue plaques here on the university campus a new context to view them in.

I hope this was a very useful little slice of what the history programme experience can be like, even for British students who probably knew or did a lot more of this stuff than me, but this is an experience unique to my university life here at Birmingham that I’ll cherish. There’s always something new or more details to an established part of history than what’s on the surface.