Finding the work/life balance as a SOAS international student

SOAS ICC student

Coralie Xiong, a student on the International Foundation Programme (ICC), gives us an update on her SOAS experience so far.

Time has passed more quickly than I could have imagined. We are now approaching Christmas. It’s already been ten weeks since I started my ICC Foundation programme at SOAS. I can’t wait to talk to you more about my wonderful yet challenging experience during these weeks.

    During each and every one of my weekday study days, I had classes according to my personal timetable. Although we have online classes, it does not affect our full and rich course arrangements every day. I believe that all the students have to be organised to plan their time and get prepared for their schedules. From my own perspective, it is very exciting for me to manage my time and balance my life freely, in contrast to doing what I was told to by my teachers in high school in China. Just as with Immanuel Kant’s perception of freedom, this demonstrates the ability to govern one’s actions on the basis of reason,  not desire. This has been a way of training us to be more independent and responsible, not only for our study life, but also for our personal life. I have tried my best working through the concept in the past weeks.

    In my study life:

   As we are applying for undergraduate university entrance in the UK, each and every student is invited to have one-to-one sessions with our IFCELS UCAS individual tutors online. They cleared up our doubts about the UCAS application and provided us with useful guidance. The tutors were very patient with us and we could make follow-up appointments too. The SOAS Economics department even held a meeting open only to students taking Economics on ICC who are thinking of studying the subject further. This has helped with my application a lot.

SOAS icc

    In our studies, we began to be set our first graded assignments. The demanding tasks looked difficult for most of us at first. However, with the extra guidance and tutoring of our teachers, we progressed smoothly. Just like the one-to-one sessions with UCAS academic advisers, we also had one-to-one tutorials about our assignments in addition to the regular classes. Each and every one of us had the chance to talk to our tutors about our essay plans and receive feedback. The teachers were very willing to help us solve our problems and even suggest ideas for our work. It seemed that the purpose of our assignments was not to test us, but to encourage us to develop our knowledge and thinking processes. This brought me a lot of fun in studying.

    In my personal life:

       I met my classmate Kate a couple of times in the SOAS library. We are both in the same Politics tutorial group, and have talked, via social media, about our learning experiences and exchanged ideas. Although we are both in London, we don’t see each other so often, but to me, it feels much easier to handle any problems that I face in my life here, knowing someone from my country is in the same situation as me.

       In November, I joined the SOAS Film Society – at the moment the activity is online. We watched a film called 1982 which was part of London Palestine Festival through MS Teams. It is a very touching film that presents a story of looming war through the innocent eyes of a child in love for the first time. SOAS is famous for African, Asian and Middle Eastern studies and such a chance to watch and discuss the film with students at different levels, was very precious for me. It was amazing to see students from across SOAS – all from different cultural backgrounds – watching this film together.

SOAS campus

       In summary, I have had quite a colourful time in the past ten weeks on the ICC programme. I have learnt about managing my time better and I have learnt more from both my teachers and my classmates in the fields of Politics and Economics. I am feeling really satisfied and grateful for all the experiences that I have had so far, and I am looking forward to the next stage of my life as an ICC student.

Share this post