SOAS ICC: “I can finally express what I want to express”

SOAS Autumn WP

Quaner Yuan is a Chinese student taking modules in Media Studies and World Literature and Understanding the Modern World. She writes here about her enjoyment at using her critical thinking skills in expressing herself freely at SOAS on sensitive political subjects.

Studying the ICC International Foundation Programme at SOAS has been the most unique and unforgettable learning experience of my life so far. 

Owing to the central London location of SOAS, I have to pay for higher accommodation costs, but it’s really worth it. For example, as SOAS is only five minutes’ walk from the British Museum, students have opportunities to have tutorials or lectures in an iconic location. In the SOAS ICC Foundation Programme, for one module, ‘Understanding the Modern World’, my tutor took the class to the Enlightenment Gallery of the British Museum and gave us an interesting tutorial by introducing the exhibits in detail and contextualising their time periods.

Since SOAS is only 15 minutes’ walk from Oxford Street, I sometimes choose to go shopping and enjoy the perfect night scenes with my classmates to relax. The ability to visit these locations greatly enriched my campus life.

Quaner SOAS

Once I started my term in SOAS, my Instagram followers list became much more diverse! SOAS has one of the highest proportion of international students in the UK, so I have a great opportunity to make friends with people from different regions, societies, and cultural backgrounds. Also, I have access to information that was previously out of reach. In a Media Studies seminar, I was surprised to learn that Saudi Arabia is a safe, modern country; what I heard before going to SOAS was only about the dangers present there for foreign visitors.

In my opinion, studying at SOAS is just like climbing high and gazing far – you have an incredible range of views.

On the Foundation Programme, I have been treated more than just a number, but as a person. Each student has their own personal tutor. I can talk about almost everything with my personal tutor, my state of mind, my learning conditions, and the process of applying for undergraduate programmes.

Each student is provided with one-to-one consultation from the beginning to the end of the ICC course. I have really appreciated our Academic Advisor, Enard Latham, for bearing every student’s concerns and personal situation in mind. Moreover, students are not only required to attend lectures and seminars, but we also attend two hours’ preview and review tutorials consisting of small group teaching, which help students gradually cultivate their habits of previewing and reviewing work in an organised fashion.

SOAS improves my critical thinking. In the past, when I studied subjects like History, Chinese, and Politics, I always found it tough to completely agree with my teachers’ opinions; however, I had to repeat teachers’ opinions, then use these to analyse things or form essays. At SOAS, I can argue against my lecturers or tutors in class, or in my written work, and this could even result in getting higher grades. Besides, my classmates and I am often asked to consider the pros and cons of a certain historical event or a certain idea.

No matter what questions you raise in class, your tutors or lecturers are always happy to answer them. SOAS emphasises the significance of critical thinking, not just by words, but by the behaviour of all the lecturers and tutors. As a person who hates following others blindly, I have felt quite relieved, because I can finally express what I want to express, without the fear of getting lower grades.

I take pride in being a student on SOAS’ ICC Foundation Programme, and regard it as a great fortune to my whole life.

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