How I fulfilled my dream to study in the UK

My name is Hannah which means fragrance in Vietnamese. I’m from Ho Chi Minh city, a tropical city in the south of Vietnam. I’m currently a master student at Edge Hill university, majoring in MA TESOL (Teaching English for speakers of other languages). 

Studying abroad has been my dream since high school, the dream that seemed to wither away each year as I got older and still had no idea how and where to start. When I was younger, I didn’t know what I wanted to study. Once I had already decided what to learn, I didn’t know which school to choose and how I could get a scholarship since financial matters are a major issue for me. My full time job at the time also devoured most of my energy. I never had time to do my research. 

Somehow, by a stroke of luck, I crossed paths with an MA TESOL graduate who just completed her course in the UK and came back to Vietnam. We met at a vaccination site during a Covid wave in 2021. It was just a short encounter. She told me about her experience studying in the UK with an assurance “It’s not as hard as you think.” And well, that’s how it started. The moment I realized “It’s not as hard as I think”, I started working my ass off to achieve what I believe was my dream: Studying in the UK. In this blog, I’ll share my journey with you, how I got to where I am now and some advice, coming from a mature student who was at first clueless but eventually figured out her path and is currently a happy student at Edge Hill university in the UK. 

Questions you should ask yourself before applying for a university in the UK

  • What do you really want to study?/ What are you passionate about? You should have enough genuine interest in what you learn to stay in the long game. Don’t just sign up for a course to please your parents or for the sake of experiencing studying or living abroad. It would be a waste of your time and energy. I’ve seen people taking courses they have no interest in, couldn’t catch up, and ended up reaching out to illegal essay/dissertation writing services. Please keep in mind this is a serious offense that could result in your withdrawal from the university. Ask yourself: what sparks my curiosity? What skills do I want to upgrade? Why this course? How can it benefit my career? 
  • What’s your budget? How much money can I allocate for this course? (your budget should include the course tuition fee, accommodation, living expenses, traveling fee, visa application, etc.) If you don’t have that money now, what options do you have? (saving up, applying for a student loan, finding suitable scholarships…) 
  • Which universities offer quality teaching/ curriculums that suit your academic needs and financial capability? I discovered Edge Hill through an online school fair. I also found a few universities that meet my needs but this uni seemed to cover most of the things I’m looking for. 
  • What kind of things do you want to experience in a foreign country? (lifestyle, landscape, working, foods…) If you like big cities with active nightlife, you would probably want to apply for a school located in a bustling city such as London. For me, Ormskirk is a perfect choice cuz I prefer a more quiet place.

What should you do next?

Consider doing the following things to find the right school: 

  • Join studying abroad fairs (both online & offline)  
  • Join active social media (Facebook) groups, search for the relevant keywords through hashtags, and ask questions. 
  • Ask around. Reach out to people who used to take the same kind of course in your field. Consult them. But you still need to consider all the factors and make the final decision by yourself. Keep in mind that everyone’s experience is not the same. Make sure to have your own judgment. 
  • Choose the suitable scholarships. For example, I’m pretty good at writing and speaking in front of the camera, and that makes me a perfect candidate for the Ambassador scholarship. Remember to go through the scholarship application form thoroughly and try to figure out what kind of candidates the university is looking for. Ask yourself: Why do I choose this scholarship? What makes me a strong candidate? 
  • Be aware of fraudulent companies that charge a very high fee. Creditable agencies (for the UK market) help you apply for free. They will receive the school commission when your application is successful. I reached out to ISC (a reliable agency in Vietnam) and got very good support from them without paying any consulting fee. 
  • Plan as soon as possible so that you have enough time to save money, consider the best option for your situation, and prepare a good application/ scholarship essay. 
  • Spend time reading information on the school website. Most of the time, the info you need is on the website. Get familiar with researching because you will have to do that a lot when you take a course here. 

What I like about Edge Hill

  • Affordability (<14,000 pounds for the MA TESOL course). Internationals are also eligible for a 3,000-pound deduction from the tuition fee. 
  • The course curriculum meets my needs. I want to build a good foundation in language pedagogy and learn how to do research. 
  • Good teaching quality. I really like my course lecturers. They are knowledgeable, supportive, and ethical. 
  • Beautiful campus and modern facilities (spacious, state-of-the-art library, lots of green space on campus, modern sport center with lots of exercise classes) 
  • One of the schools which offer the best accommodation in the UK, value for money
  • Quiet, quaint area. Ormskirk, the town where the school is located, is small but quite charming.

Edge Hill’s limitations

  • Lacks diversity. International students only account for 2% of its students 
  • Not many scholarship opportunities for Vietnamese students. As far as I know, the 50% Ambassador scholarship that I applied for won’t be available in 2023. However, you can check out the Great scholarship sponsored by the British Council or the prestigious Chevening scholarship.

I hope my blog is useful and gives you some ideas on how to get started. If studying in the UK is your dream, start working for it! 

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