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"From the moment I applied, I felt huge support from many departments"

Eliana Valdez, MSc Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology student, came to Birkbeck as a Chevening Scholar. Here she talks about her experience as an international student coming to study in the UK.

A young woman sitting on a leather sofa smiling, with a marble stone wall behind her

The Chevening Scholarship is a programme that offers exceptional professionals from around the world the opportunity to study in the UK. As exciting as it is to have the opportunity to come to the UK and study something you’re passionate about, it can also be intense and nerve wracking.  

When you arrive as an international student, it’s not just your studies that you’re dealing with, it’s all the other changes too. It’s moving to the UK, looking for accommodation, adapting to the weather, the people, the culture. It's a lot to deal with beside studying. I chose Birkbeck because I felt so supported in all of this.  

When I applied to other universities, I just couldn't find the same feeling of support: they’d take incredibly long to reply to my email queries about the process of studying in the UK for example, or they wouldn’t ask me important questions needed for my application. I thought, why should I go somewhere that can’t support me?  

But with Birkbeck, from the moment I applied, I felt huge support from many departments. The team of staff who work closely with international students helped with all my administrative queries swiftly and in detail. The communication between Birkbeck and Chevening was also excellent, which made things easier for me when first arriving to the UK.  

The international team were also great at helping me get started academically. I initially struggled with my writing because English is not my native language. I realised from feedback on my first essay that I needed to sharpen my grammar and communication skills, and found there was fantastic support for this with the Study Skills and Studiosity sessions offered.  

But Birkbeck provides more than just administrative and academic support for international students. The international team also organises events that helped me get to know other Chevening scholars: there are more than 30 of us! The events helped build a support network, and now all the scholars are friends; we socialise and get together. There are also clubs and societies for international students that are frequently promoted, so you get to know people from many other countries who are studying here.  

Birkbeck doesn’t just expect international students to turn up, study, and be challenged with the transition of moving abroad. They want us to succeed, and they know that we can’t succeed if we’re not well-informed, if we’re not feeling seen and understood, or if we have issues with gaps in our study skills. They do everything they can to help with that. When I understood this, I knew right away that Birkbeck was my university. They chose me, and I chose them. 

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