My name is Marah and I’m from Saudi Arabia.

I studied a Foundation Certificate for Business, Law and Social Sciences at Bournemouth University International College, and went on to study a bachelor’s degree in Marketing at Bournemouth University (BU).

This is how I’m shaping my future.

Choosing Bournemouth University

I was lucky enough to have studied in both English and Arabic as a child, and my parents communicated with us in both languages. In high school, I decided to do an exchange programme in the USA, and that experience confirmed what I already thought — that I wanted to study my university degree abroad.

I cared a lot about the location of my university when I was looking into it. Being from Saudi Arabia, I wanted to be somewhere that wasn’t too far from home (it’s only a few hours away from the UK by plane). But I also wanted to find a study destination that had a beach and wasn’t too distracting!

So when I found out about BU, I researched it a bit more and felt that it could be the right place for me

Studying a pathway course

When I first arrived in the UK, I definitely had culture shock. I didn’t think that the difference between the US and the UK would be so drastic! I also realised that I wasn’t in high school anymore, so the college experience was a reality check for me — I was no longer a teenager!

However, when I started my Foundation Certificate at Bournemouth University International College I made a lot of friends who were international students as well. We were all in the same boat, which made us closer.

One of the things that was culturally different was the teaching and the grading system in the UK. Thanks to the College, I was able to understand what would be expected of me at university, and I could catch up with subjects that I hadn’t been exposed to before, like Economics.

Being at the College was one of the best years of my life as a student. We were able to be part of a volunteer group, join extracurricular activities outside the classroom, and also be in a talent show that was held that year! So I guess being part of it all, making friends and creating memories with them was my favourite thing about the College.

Finding an internship at university

As part of my degree, I had the opportunity to do a work placement, which was such a great experience. I would say that having to search for and secure an internship was both a highlight and a challenge during my time at BU. In the end, I managed to find a placement at Disney and I started a Marketing and Communications internship.

My internship really helped me with my time-management skills and taught me the importance of prioritising effectively.

I had always struggled with work-life balance because I loved volunteering, being part of a society, working as a Peer-Assisted Learning leader, or Student Ambassador. So, it was sometimes difficult to make sure that those activities didn’t take over my study time.

My plans for the future

I think that being able to study and work within a global context is such a crucial skill to have in this day and age. If someone is considering studying abroad then I would say, “do it!” — what you end up learning from this experience, no textbook could ever teach you.

My study abroad experience and my internship helped me build my international network, which I’m hoping will help guide me to the best career path possible.

I’d love to find a marketing job where I can use both my English and my Arabic language skills, but we’ll see what happens!