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Students' experiences of studying for their MA at York

Siqi Zhang - MA in TESOL

Why get involved in non-course related activities?

As the third term begins, my postgraduate life in York is coming to an end. Looking back, I feel grateful that I didn’t spend all the time just on course study and I’ve got involved in various non-course related activities,
such as:

  • I’m the course rep for Education postgraduate taught students
  • I’m the secretary in Graduate Common Room Committee of Alcuin College, which I live in
  • I am a member of Kendo Club where I started my Kendo career
  • I took some language classes such as the International Communication course at Centre for English Language Teaching and Spanish classes run by the Latin-American Society
  • I also took part in research in the Education department as a participant, paid and unpaid, from which I gained experience of the entire process of Education studies.

These experiences have helped me to build my confidence and really made my life here colourful.

Tips from other students

Last year, when I had only just arrived at the University of York, I met some PhD students at a little welcome gathering and I asked if they could offer me some suggestions. “Be happy!” one of them said. Others also suggested that I need not get too worried about study, just follow the pace the tutors set and enjoy life here. Another PhD student said that I could try to run to be course rep because her friend who is a previous course rep said it is very rewarding. It turned out indeed to be rewarding. By passing messages to the Board of Studies and Graduate Teaching Committee for fellow course mates and listening to staff discussing issues to be done or changed, I now understand deeply: how the department works from top-down and bottom-up; and how the department resolves issues concerning programmes, modules and recruiting. I also met more people – both tutors and students and I helped tutors to organize the End of Term Party in the first term, which I was happy to see that my fellow students enjoyed.

Kendo Club

It’s also memorable that my Kendo practice began in York. At Freshers’ Fair last year, all the University’s societies and sport clubs aimed to attract newbies. After touring through all kinds of dazzling stalls from Aerobics to Astronomy, I made up my mind to join Kendo Club. It is a type of Japanese martial art using a sword, so I didn’t feel very unfamiliar with that because of the relation between Chinese and Japanese martial arts traditions. Kendo highlights the fighting spirits of being confident and firm, so I thought I could really benefit from it. Better still, with practices twice a week I don’t need other major sport exercise. In fact, the practice was so intensive sometimes that it took three days to recover, and then it was time to go to the next session! During the year, I was very lucky to have been at two Taikais (Goodwill Taikai between York and Northumbria and Roses 2015 Taikai between York and Lancaster), and one Matsuri Festival, from which I learned a lot about the fighting techniques and competition rules and real Kendo competition procedure.

Suggestions for future students

If I may make suggestions to future students, I’d say, especially for international students like myself to step out of your comfort zone and join activities you enjoy. For one thing, it enriches your life experience. For another, it helps to develop a sense of community belonging. Study is part of learning, learning is part of life and life is what matters. So DIY your own university life and be happy!

Ghazal Syed - MA in Global and International Citizenship Education

ghazal

My year at York

It has been a great year of fun and learning - learning from great scholars, accessing huge resource banks, making friends, learning about different cultures, enhancing and grooming the academic self and cherishing the wonderful overall experience of being in York of belonging which has led us to learn with a surety of a lasting bond.

Citizenship education

My program focused on teaching of citizenship education, which is yet to become a subject in many of the Asian countries. Nonetheless the learning is worth it as you learn about issues that are of general concern. Moreover, there is choice of optional modules from the whole Education department and you can select what interests you most.

Support

There were plenty of workshops, talks, seminars throughout the year to help wherever I got stuck, there was the support of all the module tutors and there were fun things going on in the campus all year round. Though I do have another Masters and plan to move on to my PhD in the next academic year, the MA GICE has been an experience worth cherishing for life.

Qingyang "Ching" Sun - MA in Education

Steps for getting a good start

Hi, I’m Ching, from Shanghai, China. I hope some of my experiences here can help you to get a good start at York.

Find a suitable accommodation

If you need to spend 2 hours travelling to and from campus everyday, you may possibly find life very hard! So the important thing is to find suitable accommodation before you start your course. There are two campuses (east and west); I think it’s better if your accommodation and your department are based at the same campus.

If you decide to live off-campus, remember to check the transiting time to campus! I consulted a housing agency and they recommended off-campus accommodation. Otherwise, just check the location on Google maps.

Browse the university website before you depart

Almost everything you are concerned about will be addressed somewhere on the website. It’s also a good way to explore the facilities and resources available for students on campus. Before I departed, I had one month of free time, and I spent valuable time figuring out the support I could access at the uni. That’s how I knew about the student support hub, welcome week activities from the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA), career services and much, much more!

Also because I browsed beforehand and was informed, I was able to bring some documents needed for working in schools in England from my home country. Finally I got organised quickly to volunteer in a local primary school in term 2 (YSIS programme from the York Careers Service), to the envy of many friends.

Join the welcome week (week 0)

Just arrive one week earlier before the course start date and you can make so much more of your future student life! Through welcome week events, you’ll get familiar with locations of departments, shopping places and even tourist sites in the city centre. What’s more, you will make international friends through karaoke, board games and movie nights! Among the events, keep an eye on the information session, where you can meet almost all the support organisations in the uni.

Study, socialise and enjoy life!

Once you’ve settled down at York, remember to balance workload and personal life. You’re likely to perform better if you have some friends and some activities to attend. I made some friends through my course, and we go out regularly for a dinner or a trip. Besides that, I also try to reach out to more people by attending a wide range of events: food festival, parties, seminars… you name it. Although it’s a good idea to improve your spoken English before you depart, once you’re there, just go ahead and don’t be shy!

Some important organisations:

  • York GSA organises loads of events (meet-up, trips, theme nights…) for postgraduate students
  • i:Connect Café is a chance for you to chat with local people
  • Centre for English Language Training holds a number of free language/culturerelated courses every term
  • Careers advertises volunteering and working opportunities on the gateway. They also provide 1 to 1 career advice!