Sandra (from Poland) decided to pursue her BA degree abroad. Her choice landed on BA Fashion Merchandise Management at University of Westminster. She kindly agreed to share a bit of insight into her student life and what she has learned after living 1.5 years abroad.
1. What’s your name? What do you study? Why have you chosen this specific faculty?
My name is Sandra, I started my studies almost 1.5 years ago at the University of Westminster. I’m studying Fashion Merchandise Management, which turned out to be a different direction than I expected, but more on that later.
In high school, everyone kept asking what are my plans for the future, what and where do I want to study.
For some reason I have always wanted to pursue my education abroad. I wanted to study something fashion related, something creative yet practical and with great emphasis on cooperation. My home country Poland did not offer any University degrees that would match my interests and unfortunately as of yet the fashion industry is in its early stages.
Initially, I was thinking about studying in the USA, since New York and LA are important cities in the fashion industry. Unfortunately, I overestimated myself a bit, because studies there cost a fortune, and I just couldn’t afford it. So my New York dream has to wait for now. Instead I set my sights on the United Kingdom. It’s in Europe which means I can easily travel back to Poland to see my family and they have no problems visiting me.
So now I am studying in London and so far it has been the best experience.
2. Was it a good idea to choose studies abroad? Why?
100% yes! The fashion industry is very developed here, a lot of brands have their headquarters in London and there are constantly different events happening. London offers a lot of opportunities, by the time you graduate you can already have an impressive CV and useful contacts.
3. What makes your university special/unique?
The University of Westminster has 4 campuses in London. I’m studying at Harrow campus which is dedicated to people from Art, Music and Design.
My campus is the most modern of 4, but unfortunately the furthest from the city center.
We have a beautiful library and I love studying there. The university also gives us access to a variety of sources of knowledge such as WGSN – a company that offers future trends forecasting services. Usually brands have to pay thousands of pounds for an annual subscription for such services but as a student I have free access to it.
4. How much time do you need to spend at the university? How much time do you spend on your studies/coursework?
Usually my classes (3 times a week) last from 10 to 1pm. Then I have an hour break and at 2 pm. We start the afternoon class and finish it around 4 pm.
It often changes and we often finish at 1pm. Then I go to the library to work on my projects.
5. Is it possible to work during studies?
The answer is very simple – of course it is possible.
8 hours a week? Or maybe 20? I have done more than 30 hours with school 3 times a week. It all depends on your plan and ability. It’s also worth to remember that you came to London to study, not to work, so don’t sacrifice everything for a student job. I have already found out that I am a workaholic and I would like to do everything within a certain time frame, but sometimes it simply cannot be done. Think about yourself and your needs, and take it easy when you need to.
6. Do you think that your university prepares you well for your future career?
The university is preparing me for a Merchandising career, which I don’t really think is what I would like to do in the future but I am happy I chose my degree since now I understand the fashion industry better and also what careers can I pursue. Luckily my tutors are very nice and are encouraging me to explore what I am more interested in which is Fashion Buying
Also from January I am starting a one-year internship at Selfridges, which is part of my studies. That’s awesome. You can also get an internship at ASOS, Nike, H&M or Net-A-Porter.
7. How well do you have to pass your matura exam to get into your university?
I’m not entirely sure, but something like 70% of Extended English and the basics also counted – at least 60% each of the three.
8. What about the foreign exchanges at your university? Is the offer rich? What are the cool options?
The foreign exchange offer is very rich. USA, China, Australia and of course European countries. I try to work as good as possible at uni, because I want to have priority in choosing where I would like to go. Grades from the second year onwards count. The exchange lasts one semester.
9. How would you describe your student life abroad, is it fun?
During my first year, I lived in a dormitory, so the first two weeks were filled with parties – at uni (we have our own mini club), in the city center or at the dormitory. Then everything slows down and everyone is rather focused on studying and working, we still have fun but we all remember that we came here to study. If we go out, most often on weekends for some drinks. Recently, I have gone to a few housewarming parties, because in the second year 90% of people moved from their dorms to apartments / shared houses.
Overall London offers great entertainment no matter what interests or budget you have.
10. Would you recommend studying abroad to other people?
Give it a try, you can always go back home. If you really want it, it’s not that hard. It’s a great experience and besides your studies you will also learn self-motivation, independence, decision making, time and money management.