Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences student perspective: Jingke

We spoke to Jingke, an international student from China.  Jingke talks about why they chose Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences, the Cultural Programme and includes some tips for future international students.  

LANS student Jingke"I decided to study at the University of Birmingham because of LANS. After completing my international foundation year, I was unsure about what I wanted to study.  My interests differed from one day to the next, and the prospect of committing to one discipline for 3-4 years seemed terrifying.  LANS offered a perfect solution: I can experience a mix of university-level subjects before potentially settling down on a major.

During my first year, I’ve studied a wide range of topics, none of which I have ever studied formally before.  It was slightly overwhelming at first because I was taking standalone modules in a second language alongside degree-programme students.  It felt natural to assume that others on the module knew more about the subject(s).  At the same time, I always felt supported academically.  The teaching teams were happy to answer any questions, and there’s a vast amount of self-guided resources available (such as those published by the Academic Skill Centre).  The weekly group tutorials have also allowed us to connect with fellow LANS students and share common concerns.  The LANS team has been incredibly helpful and supportive every step of the way.

Having taken modules in five subjects, I now have a better idea about my academic interests.  My favourite modules have been the ones in geology and LC Social Divisions, and I plan on learning more about them in my second year.  

Themed “Ruptures”, the Cultural Programme this year has taken us to various (virtual) events.  From the play Les Blancs to the “THE END OF FUN!” socially distanced exhibition at the Ikon gallery, I am often left astonished and inspired.  I think I was the most stunned by a recent talk with BBC’s first LGBT correspondent Ben Hunte, who told us about his experiences of intersectionality as a gay black man working to provide a mainstream voice for the marginalised members of the LBGT community.

On the LANS core module From Research to Policy, we are studying and campaigning for a local social issue.  From it and some cultural events, I have become more familiar with the city and intrigued by its diversity.  As I entered my first year amid the COVID-19 lockdown, I can’t wait to explore Birmingham fully in the years to come.

I would advise prospective students to consider their needs and preferences and research beyond the course.  If you’re an international student, you might wish to familiarise yourself with the local infrastructures such as the NHS, the immigration system, and the affordability of different supermarket chains.  Moving to a new city (or country!) can be disorienting, but a little research beforehand could potentially save a lot of future headaches.  If the course still seems appealing, I wholeheartedly encourage you to apply. LANS has been an exciting and fulfilling journey for me, but YOU will get to determine your experience.  Above all, be kind to yourself.  Applying for university is a stressful process, and you should be proud of your accomplishments regardless of the outcome."