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Student Aiswarya GopalakrishnanStudent Aiswarya Gopalakrishnan

Ash’s story

My name is Ash, and I’m from India.

I’m currently finishing my master’s in International Fashion Management at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) in the UK.

Studying abroad has helped me grow so much as a person and I now have many connections with friends and faculty from around the world. Let me tell you about my journey and what studying abroad has taught me.  

How my upbringing inspired my degree choice

I developed a curiosity for different creative forms of self-expression over the course of two decades through training as an Indian classical dancer. I was always captivated by the traditional costumes worn during performances, and remember wondering about the process behind creating such beautiful garments. 
The UK is seen as a global hub for fashion and teaching. Having researched other countries and universities, I felt the UK was ideal for a student like me.  

I have also always had an interest in management, which stems from my parents who are both Managing Directors of their own businesses. NTU’s MA International Fashion Management degree has the right balance of design and management, and was therefore a perfect fit for me.   
Taking a Pre-Master’s in Business, Law and Social Sciences at Nottingham Trent International College prepared me for my master’s degree at university.  
The Pre-Master’s course was structured in a way that provided me with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed during my master’s degree.
The multiple group projects helped me build teamwork and communication skills, especially by working with people from various parts of the world. 

Arriving in the UK 

I first arrived in the UK in 2017 for my undergraduate degree and I was scared, lonely and very conscious of my accent. My experience in the UK as an international student has made me more confident, well spoken and independent. I have also found friends who became family.   
Every difficult aspect of moving to a new country was taken care of by Kaplan. From airport transfers to accommodation queries, registering at a doctor’s surgery and opening a bank account, Kaplan and the College staff went out of their way to help me.

The challenges I overcame on my pathway course  

I believe one of the hardest challenges was overcoming my fear of leadership roles. Being a student representative at the College and being a group leader for various projects helped me build leadership skills for the first time in my life.  
It improved my communication skills and also taught me that communicating with people from different cultures and communities requires awareness, respect and empathy.  
My favourite moments during my pathway course were the events that the College organised to help us bond and make new friends. These events helped us understand the cultural differences and different traditions around the world.  

Why I chose Nottingham Trent University 

The excellent employability team was a crucial factor in choosing Nottingham Trent University.
The employability team had helped most of my friends at Nottingham Trent University get hired almost immediately after they graduated. Additionally, having lived in Nottingham for the past 5 years, I believe Nottingham is the best city for students, especially for international students.  

“Having done my undergraduate degree in Nottingham, I had many friends at Nottingham Trent University. They had incredible feedback about the teaching, faculty, campus, and most importantly the employability team.”

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Volunteering enhanced my study abroad journey

An important part of my experience with Kaplan was the numerous opportunities I got while studying my pathway course. Being a student representative at Nottingham Trent International College has opened doors to various opportunities. I have had the privilege of representing the College in a focus group held by HEPI (Higher Education Policy Institute).     
I also worked part-time as a student helper with the College Services team. I assisted with registering new students, helping them with any issues or queries, data entry, issuing bank letters and hosting events.

These experiences have helped me improve my communication skills and confidence while speaking in front of a crowd.  

My goals for the future

I originally come from Kerala, India, where I observed the once prosperous handloom industry slowly fade away. My motivation to study International Fashion Management derives from a desire to preserve the traditional techniques and enhance the economy of my homeland.  
I plan to achieve this by starting a socially conscious foundation producing innovative apparels using locally sourced materials.  
My study abroad experience has widened my global perspective and competency immensely. I aim to translate this international experience to my work within the fashion industry.  

Advice for international students 

In my 5 years of experience studying abroad, building my life in a completely different country from scratch is the most challenging thing I have had to do. It is filled with a wide range of experiences that prepares you to become an independent, self-reliant, confident and brave individual.  
Living by yourself in a new country gives you a chance to make a lot of mistakes and learn from them. My one bit of advice for every student planning on studying abroad would be to allow yourself to make as many mistakes as possible. If it weren’t for the mistakes I made, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.  

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