From Pakistan to Glasgow: Waleed’s story
Ever wondered how other students feel before their first day studying abroad?
We spoke to Waleed from Pakistan, who studied International Year One in Science at INTO Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU).
He shares his first day as an INTO student and describes how the experience has changed his life.
I remember the night before my first day. I didn’t sleep very well as I was both excited and nervous.
It was going to be a whole new experience for me – new people, new friends and unknown subjects. All of which made me feel a bit scared.
Before I went to bed, I checked all four of my morning alarms just in case I slept through any one or two of them. I never trust myself enough to wake up on time for an important day!
Fortunately, I was woken by the sound of my first alarm and I caught the earliest bus possible to the university.
Being late on the very first day wasn’t an option. I reached the INTO Centre at 8.00am, an hour earlier than my orientation schedule told me to arrive.
I don’t know which is worse – being late or being so early that you’re literally the first person to arrive.
Quickly feeling at ease
The awkwardness came to an end as I went into the classroom for the very first time.
The first thing I noticed was that everyone seemed to be as nervous as I was. We were all going through the same thought processes and that gave me some comfort.
What I didn’t realise at that point, however, was that some of these strangers would become such a big part of my life.
As our orientation came to an end, we’d all met the INTO staff and had the opportunity to get to know one another. All the nervous energy I’d been carrying around was gone; I felt at ease.
The friendly and welcoming atmosphere at the Centre helped me perform well in my studies.
Don’t get me wrong, there were quite a few sleepless nights, early morning revision sessions on the bus, and lots and lots of caffeine, but we all made it through.
Even when we were stressed, we found it easy to communicate with our tutors who helped us throughout the course.
From that day until now, I’ve always felt welcome. I feel like I’m a part of this amazing family that includes people from all over the world – not only the students, but the staff as well.
It’s been five months since we all progressed to our degrees and we still regularly meet, even though we’re taking different courses at university.
We have sleepovers, take trips at the weekend, or just walk around Glasgow and argue over which place to go for lunch – we all have a different favourite!
A boost to my self-confidence
The most important thing that I can take away from the whole experience is my increased self-confidence; particularly a new confidence in my abilities.
Going to INTO GCU from secondary school, I knew the basics but I was never sure of my skills. All those essay writing assignments and lab reports – although they seemed like a never-ending battle with time and words – led me to become more confident in my abilities.
I don’t freak out after seeing an essay topic or a lab report assignment anymore because I know what to do and I believe that I can do it well.
I’m currently in Year 2 of my Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science and I honestly miss INTO GCU a lot.
We came from all around the world, most of us not knowing much about each other’s culture or country, but we all seemed to understand each other because we knew that we were going through the same process.
We took comfort in that. My friends and I still hang around at the INTO Centre and play table tennis (which I always win) or FIFA on the PlayStation (which I always lose).
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget the time I spent there. I don’t think any of us could ever forget it, not just because of each other but because of the wonderful INTO staff.
If Waleed’s story has inspired you to study abroad, please get in touch with our friendly advisers!
You may also like to read: Studying abroad: the best journey of my life.
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all the latest on studying abroad in Scotland.