Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Part-time International Officer Ushana, on arriving in Reading for the first time

Apa Khabar? ('How are you' in Malaysian)
I’m Ushana Gamany, RUSU's International Students’ Officer.

I’m a second year Law student from Malaysia. I’d like to share my experience of being here at Reading, so you know how amazing the University of Reading is!

When I came to here one year ago, it was the first time I had been to the UK and I had come alone.

However, I wasn’t worried….. well up until I was on the plane. That’s when everything began to sink in. I’m going to a place 7,000 miles away from home, I’m all alone, what if something happens? Who do I turn to and will I be lucky and meet lots of people as I always have or will everyone be different and I just won’t make any friends.

I was terrified for a while and it didn’t help when I arrived at my Hall of Residence.The first night I was scared but also excited.

The first day started a bit badly with me having no food and not really sure how to use the shower… yes I know what you’re thinking “What an idiot!”. Oh well I have my moments. Anyway,I went to the Carrington building at 8.30am and there was literally no one on the University grounds. I was starting to wonder if I was in the right place until more students started showing up. Registration went smoothly and I met a few students doing the same thing.

Then in the afternoon we went on a tour of the campus and town. There were friendly faces everywhere and all of us on the tour got to know each other. That night was Bollywood night and I went out with my flat mates and we just “clicked”. Everything fell in place after that and I never felt alone again.

I was really lucky to find such amazing friends. There was Alex from Moldova, Carlos from Chile, Joris from France, Carsten from Germany, Mihai from Romania, Joe Sun from Malaysia, Mike from China, Lara and Helena from Spain, Cathy from London, Jack and Jack from somewhere else in the UK (haha) and Alice from Italy.

Before going to University I already had an interest in being involved in a Students' Union as we didn’t have them in Malaysia as they have been illegal since 1971. I talked to the VP of Academic Affairs, Alex Slater, and he told me I could get involved by becoming a Course Rep and he was very supportive of my interest.

Not long after that, I stood for elections and got elected as 1 of the 3 First Year Law Course Reps. It was an enriching experience as I got to meet students and talk to them about their issues on the course. Then I would discuss these issues and voice these opinions at staff student liaison committees and sat on the Board of Studies Meetings at the Law School. I got to meet all the lecturers and at these meetings I didn’t feel like an inferior but rather an equal. It was a very different experience than I was used to with teachers back home.

I had also decided to join the Boat Club, Mountaineering Club, Caving Club, and the Law Society. Due to time constraints I ended up doing a little bit of each of it. However, I don’t regret it as I now know what societies and clubs I’m interested in joining and I’ve tried everything I wanted to try (almost). So I’ve decided to go with Mountaineering in my second year.

I had an amazing first year. I may not have gone to as many parties as some of my friends but I did get to do a lot of things and had fun during every single moment of the last year!

There are opportunities everywhere at the University, friends to make and people to meet at every corner. You need only take a small step and talk to someone. In my experience most people have been very friendly and helpful. Everywhere you turn there’ll be helpful people. It’s not very hard to find something you’re interested or passionate about either. It’s rare that you can’t find  a society that you like and if it there isn't, I’m sure you’ll find people who share your interests, so why not start a society yourself?

I have to say, some of my best memories and some of my closest friends are from Reading University. It truly has been an amazing year.

My advice to you is to be open to new experiences and to meeting new people. It will really open up your mind to new perspectives.

My main goal this year is to improve integration between home and international (includes EU) students and I will be running various campaigns to further this goal.

So if you have any problems whether it's getting lost on campus, housing issues, dealing with racism or just not coping that well with life, I am here to help. That’s what I’m here for, to help YOU. It doesn’t matter how small or big your problem is.

So feel free to email me at  internationalstudents@rusu.co.uk or drop into the Students' Union Reception and ask for me.

Ushana Gamany
International Part-time Officer

2nd Year Law Student

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