Oliko's from Georgia - she graduated from the UCL International Pre-Master's in 2020 and went on to study International Health Management MSc at Imperial College London.
Why did you choose to study at UCL?
First and foremost, I chose UCL because of its reputation!
Additionally, the content of the programme was what I was looking for. The duration of the course was not too short or too long, something in the middle and that was ideal!
I joined the course in January, but I highly recommend joining in September if possible, because settling down and getting familiar with your new environment does take time.
What course do you study now and what is it like?
I’ve been studying a Master's in International Health Management. This is an interdisciplinary course of health management that helped me to enhance my managerial skills in healthcare and explore topics in health economics, health policy, health systems, business strategy, entrepreneurship etc.
I found it extremely interesting and challenging at the same time, as the pace and academic requirements of the course are very high. However, it is worth it!
How has the International Pre-Master's helped you in your Master’s degree?
I found the IPM helpful for my current studies, particularly the reading and writing classes. I would never have imagined the endless reading lists for lecture preparation that I’ve been having now, and enormous reports or executive summaries to submit as coursework.
IPM teachers equipped us with tools and introduced us to strategies on how to read and write in an appropriate academic manner and most importantly, how to do this in a short period.
I also found group work on the IPM very helpful. I was not keen on doing assignments in groups before the IPM, but I got used to it and I’m extremely satisfied as my Master's requires 100% of coursework to be done in groups!
How is the UK education system different to your home country?
I should recognise that it’s very different from my country and this was what I found most stressful. The language barrier, teaching, group works, lectures - everything was so different, but much better!
Lecturers and teachers were so nice and friendly. I felt shocked once I knew that I could call them by just first names (you can never do this in my country, as this can be taken with offence).
What was the biggest challenge you faced during your time on the International Pre-Master's?
It was not an easy journey as I'd never been to London before, and I moved here alone. The initial months were particularly stressful because of settling in. Homesickness, a new huge city with a diverse population, academic issues, living alone!
But I survived and so will you! Ultimately, you will be so proud of yourself once you discover how strong you are.
What advice would you give to a prospective International Pre-Master's student?
My advice would be - just enjoy as much as you can.
For those who will experience stress (mental, homesick etc.) and academic pressure, I’d like to tell you that: you are not the only one! Everything will be sorted out soon.
Based on my experience, it's vital to practice in everything you would love to achieve. Not only the academic side (though this is number one area you need to practice), but in sport, lifestyle, relaxing (highly important). To me everything comes at the price of dedication and practice!
Also, try to explore the city as much as possible. London is amazing!
What is it like to live and study in London?
Honestly, it’s hard to balance both for me, but I’m so blessed that I’ve been living and studying here. My city is not as large and diverse as London. Additionally, I was not keen on living in big and noisy cities, so I found it extremely hard in the beginning. But now I love London, its built environment is amazing!
As I’m big lover of nature, Royal parks are my favourite places to take a walk and get rid of stress! There are a vast number of places (such as pubs, cafes, restaurants etc.) to socialise (depending on Covid restrictions!) and I think this is one of the reasons why people love living in London.
What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?
To be honest, everything was extremely interesting to me as it was my first time. I've never seen such a huge campus (in Bloomsbury), lecture theatres, libraries (I’m in love with the main library). The Student Centre building was just amazing. I spent my whole days there before Covid.