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Jonaline Reoma

A blog by Jonaline Reoma


According to Neale Donald Walsch, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I know, it may sound great in theory but it may actually be very challenging in reality. However, once you actually take the chance, a world of opportunities awaits you.


Back when I was younger, every now and then, I would catch myself daydreaming about living abroad. Just like everyone else, the idea of travelling, meeting new people, immersing myself in a different culture and gaining new experiences always puts me on the edge of my seat.


It all seemed so easy then but when I got to the point where I had to decide whether I will pursue this lifelong dream or not, the decision was made with a great deal of hesitation, confusion, doubts and fears. Especially since this was during the height of the pandemic, everything was just uncertain at that time. So here goes my story.


Jonaline Reoma



How my study abroad journey started


Before I worked with Intake, I researched every nook and cranny of studying abroad. I watched Youtube videos for days on end, read blogs, consulted with a couple of educational agencies and attended webinars just so I can get the picture of the whole process of applying. And although I found a lot of agencies that offer their services for free, none of them met my needs down to a T.


So, when I had enough information to get me by, I decided to DIY (do-it-yourself) my application which was absolutely overwhelming, to say the least. Fortunately, a friend of mine introduced Intake to me as she was also in the middle of applying herself. From the get-go, Intake made the process easy, organized, and stress-free. I initially only had to reach out to them and book a meeting with one of the advisors. In the virtual meeting, Joanna, my advisor, explained to me in detail what services Intake can offer. As I was still in two minds about which country, what course, and which school to decide on, Joanna, my advisor, did all the legwork and I was able to gain valuable insight and information from her that helped me choose the best option for me.



Going through the application process


To tell you honestly, my first choice was actually Canada. I wasn’t even remotely close to considering the UK, even when that very friend of mine whom I mentioned earlier spoke about it for quite a while back then. Joanna and I worked on the requirements and submitted my application to a couple of universities in Canada during the last quarter of 2021. By November that year, I’ve already received acceptance letters from the majority of the universities I have applied to and yet, I still felt like I’m missing something. So after some careful consideration, I pitched my idea of looking into programs and universities in the UK to Joanna which she whole-heartedly supported. Since it was a last minute decision of mine, I was already cutting it close to the deadline of the submission of applications for the UK. Well, you best believe I panicked for a second there but Joanna assured me that we had enough time to make it before the deadline. From there, we started all over again. I was given a new list of universities to look into and some programs I might be interested in taking. One by one, I read blogs and watched videos about each university and weighed the pros and cons of each. When I was finally decided, all I had to do was send the required documents to Joanna and she took care of the rest. At that point, I was a mixture of nerves and anticipation. It took weeks before I heard back from the university and when I learned that I got accepted, I couldn’t help but well up at that time. The moment just felt like everything had fallen into place. It turned out that after painstakingly researching my study abroad location in the past, I ended up choosing a country I only got to know for a short period of time. In some ways, I think the UK chose me.


What came next was the visa application and in my opinion, the process for applying to the UK is less complicated compared to other countries. I just had to turn up for a TB screening, complete an online application, submit my biometric data as well as my documents to a Visa Application Centre near me. Throughout the whole process, Joanna was a constant source of support and patiently answered all of my questions related to the application.



Why abroad


Why study abroad, you ask? Well, as someone who has lived her life inside a meticulously constructed safety box, I felt like I was at a crossroads in my life. Being in my comfort zone for as long as I can remember withered away my creativity and passion. So in order for me to start living and not just keep existing, I had to disturb my comfort and sense of peace in the name of growth and change. And the way I see it, taking up further studies abroad will not only expand one’s global network and make one develop new perspectives of a different culture but also, it will broaden one’s academic horizon and contribute to personal growth. On top of that, you get to meet new people who might become your lifelong friends, become more independent, make fond memories and practice self-discovery.


Jonaline Reoma


Choosing my study destination


There are several reasons why I chose Leeds Beckett University. Apart from the fact that this prestigious university is popular amongst international students, I was made aware of the university’s excellent teaching by expert academics and state-of-the-art facilities. The University offers courses in arts and humanities, science and technology, economics, business, sports, tourism and hospitality management and media at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Additionally, a major focus at Leeds Beckett is preparing students for employment. Students can get help in career planning, meeting potential employers and getting a job through their career team. And unlike any other universities, students whose merit and eligibility are recognized by Leeds Beckett University can be offered a scholarship.


One of the challenges I encountered while working on my application was choosing my program. As a graduate of Bachelor’s in Science in Occupational Therapy, I made sure to choose a master’s program that is related to my degree. They do offer a master’s level for my degree but I wanted to try something else out, a niche area of Occupational Therapy. So after some surfing on their website of the many postgraduate programs that they offer, I ended up choosing MSc in Child and Adolescent Mental Health.



My student life now


Student life here in Leeds is completely different from what I experienced back home. As a postgraduate student, I only have one full class day per week but bear in mind that that is not always the case for other programs. Independent learning is expected here so I spend most of my time doing my readings as it is quite a demanding list. It may sound intimidating but the university provides the best support for your learning such as 24/7 library access, the student advice team as well as your lecturers. Every now and then, there are activities run by different organizations such as trips, city walks, student nights, etc. so if you are ever in need of some time off uni work, they got you. One great thing about studying here is that the university is situated in the city centre which means you have easy access to historical sites, museums, galleries, grocery stores, shops, malls, restaurants, cinemas, and other entertainment venues. On top of all of that, Leeds Beckett has a diverse community where you get to meet people from across the globe and make new friendships.


I have been here for 5 months already and I can confidently say that I’m pretty well-adjusted. But looking back to when I was still a few weeks fresh, culture shock sure did hit me like a freight train. Let’s start off with the food. Food in Leeds is incredible, you get to choose from English food to different ethnic cuisines but nothing beats the taste of home. Fortunately, you can always make your own as they also have Asian stores for you to shop at. In terms of transportation, if you are someone who is not used to walking and who is planning to study in Leeds, my advice is to prepare yourself because everyone walks to get around here. But don’t worry, you can always take the bus, taxi or uber if it is too far to walk. As for my accommodation, I live in one of the school halls and was fortunate enough to be housed with great people whom I became good friends with so I’m really enjoying my time.


Tips for aspiring international students


For those who want to embark on a study abroad journey, here are a few tips for you.


  1. Take the time to research. This will give you a general picture of what it is like to live abroad. Don’t just research the expenses, the application process or the university. Read about the country’s culture, customs, language, transportation system, healthcare, weather and any other information you can get your hands on. This way, you get to decide if their ways suit you.
  2. Plan ahead. Your preparation for your study abroad from collecting requirements, applying, flights, and accommodation to your visa application will not be a walk in the park. Keep a to-do checklist and stay organized with your documents. Leaving things until the last minute will only cause stress and panic.
  3. Be familiar with the culture and language. Of course, you won’t become a full-blown local overnight by just reading or watching a crash course on YouTube, however, if you learn their basic practices and differences in their language, you get to jump-start your study abroad experience. Not to mention that the locals might actually appreciate your efforts.
  4. Make new friends. There is nothing like studying abroad to transform your social life. You will have plenty of opportunities to meet people from all around the world but don’t forget to make friends with the locals as well to learn more about their country and culture. Who knows, you might form long-lasting bonds with these people.
  5. Enjoy. Stepping out into a new environment can be everything at once. You’ll have your bad days like missing home, feeling lonely, and the good days when you are just on cloud nine so embrace every emotion and experience. Growth can be uncomfortable, but just like what they say, nothing worth having comes easy.


Final thoughts


As for my future goals, I actually just want to play them by ear. But if you ask me, I hope I’ll be fortunate enough again to be granted a graduate visa so I can find a job here to practice my master’s degree. I’ll look into either the hospital or mental health setting of Occupational Therapy to work in. I want to gain as much work experience as I can here before venturing somewhere else.


To end this blog, I want to express my eternal gratitude to Intake for being instrumental to where I am at this very moment. My experience of working with them was nothing but exceptional. They have done an incredible job in guiding me throughout this journey and could not recommend them enough. Feel free to book a consultation with their counsellors anytime.


Preparing for Study Abroad
Study Abroad
Study Destination
Study in the UK

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