United States to United Kingdom: how I created a home away from home at The University of Bradford

Desirae is currently studying BSc (Hons) Marketing for the year here at The University of Bradford as part of a study abroad programme. She tells us her study abroad story and the things that helped her along the way.

Desirae, BSc (Hons) Marketing.

US to the UK

It’s March 2019, I casually scroll through my email as I sit by the coffee shop in the
library at San Francisco State University to see a notification from California State University International Programs…“Congratulations!”.

My eyes widen and a million thoughts flood my mind as I abruptly sit up realising that my
application to study abroad in the United Kingdom at the University of Bradford has been

As someone who loves travelling, learning and had never been to the UK before, this news was absolutely thrilling! But…let’s be honest here. It was also intimidating and left my mind spiralling in the wonder of what this adventure would hold and what I would encounter on my embark into what I envisioned as an entirely new world.

“Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

I spent six months preparing for my September departure. Of course, there were all the typical things that a student who will be studying abroad should anticipate: get a visa, choose classes, find accommodation, and purchase flights. What I couldn’t prepare for was the emotional rollercoaster that would surely come along with the process.

Through it all, my most predominant feeling was the joy of looking forward to the adventure ahead of me and the excitement of soon being surrounded by a new culture.

However, I couldn’t ignore that I would no longer be in the USA (dollars would now be pounds and they drive on the opposite side of the road?!), my loved ones wouldn’t be within reach, and that everything I’ve ever known would be over five thousand miles away. At times, the angst that surrounded these thoughts nagged me to reconsider my decision, but would I actually let fear steal the opportunity of my dreams right out of my hands and keep me from attending a triple-crown accredited business school?

The answer is…no.

New Beginnings

I have now been at the University of Bradford for just over a month and I strongly believe that this is one of the best decisions I have made academically, socially, and personally.

The University of Bradford has been a wonderful source of support since the moment I arrived at the airport in Leeds.

As I grabbed my luggage, I began to search for the ambassador who would be waiting to drive the arriving students to our on-campus accommodation, The Green, through the airport pickup service that is offered.

Immediately, I met other international students and was greeted by a friendly and
knowledgeable student ambassador. Upon arrival at our new home, the staff ensured that we all felt oriented and settled in before sending us on our way.

While this very warm welcome was comforting, I still felt concerned about what my classes
would be like and what other activities I could potentially participate in to make friends and enrich my life here.

Give it a Go

On my first day at the university, the kind and helpful staff informed me of a place called the “Global Cafe” that is near campus. This is a place that I highly recommend to all international students because it’s the perfect way to make friends who are also abroad and meet people who will guide you through your journey, all over a delicious home-cooked meal!

The University also offers countless different activities and societies to join, so it’s guaranteed that there will be something for you! Whether it’s trying something new like equestrian or archery, or even joining a group will help you enhance a skill that you already possess, you can be sure that you will have an exciting, fun, and well-rounded experience here.

Personally, I love to dance. So joining the Infuzion Dance Crew and Bollywood society has been tons of fun and I’ve met amazing people who share the same passion along the way.

I have also been able to push my boundaries by taking leadership roles on campus through being a student representative for my course, the Marketing programme, and helping international students with English in “Room 101”. There is also The Language Centre which offers free language classes to students, and because of this amazing resource, I have been able to practice and expand my knowledge of Spanish.

The University also hosts day trips to surrounding cities like York, Chester, and Lincoln! This is great for a student like me because it removes the puzzle of trying to plan a day away while I’m still learning how to utilise public transportation here. These trips have allowed me to share adventures with friends from around the world and build a stronger understanding of British culture.

There are also many academic resources available to guarantee that students will be able to do well in their classes, like a personal academic tutor, for example. At the University of Bradford, I have been able to exercise my existing skills and establish new ones because students here are cared for and attended to far beyond just the classroom.

Looking Forward to More

Being involved and engaging in student life has overshadowed feelings of homesickness and uncertainty because the community at the University of Bradford is like one large and
encouraging family.

Upon my arrival, I initially felt consumed by angst and isolation from being alone in a new
country, but by the end of day one, I knew that I had chosen a place where I could thrive and that would surely become more than just my university, but a home away from home.

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