UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE)


Qiu Yuhua

Qiu Yuhua, former Pre-sessional English course student

Nationality: Chinese
Previous course at UCL CLIE: 19-week Pre-sessional (2017)
Progressed to: History MA at UCL

Why did you choose to study at UCL?

History at UCL is in the top level in the whole world. Some famous historians have studied here – one of them is my supervisor now! David specialises in the late-middle ages; he’s a very famous person in the field.

I can also experience different cultures in London, it's more convenient to communicate with different people from different cultures, it’s a very international city. I have travelled to many different cities but here you see different people.

I wanted to study postgraduate history as I want to work as a professor in a university in China. I chose to study in the UK over others; the UK is the best place to study English history.

What course do you study now and what is it like?

MA History – most of my classes are seminars; before the seminar, the teacher sends a reading list and we have to read it so we can discuss some questions.

I’m taking 3 modules, including: 20th century history, historical theories and the crisis and future in the 19th century. I really enjoy the crisis class because it is related to philosophy; we can discuss with each other and exchange our ideas.

I have very good teachers/module leaders – they stay in contact with us very effectively. If we have questions and I email my tutor, he resolves it and gives some very useful advice. He organises his class very well.

How has the Pre-sessional course helped you in your Master's degree?

It’s been really helpful, in particular for reading and writing skills. For my major the most important task is reading. Now I can read more effectively – you need a high level of reading skills.

Before arriving in the UK, I read very slowly, one word at a time. On the Pre-sessional, we learnt how to speed-read. Sometimes in seminars they send us articles, and they only give us a short time to read it. I had to practise again and again to do it in a certain time.

We need advanced skills to write an essay too. For example – the referencing, bibliography and footnotes are very different in China – so the Pre-sessional English course helped me understand how to use it.

What was the most enjoyable part of the Pre-sessional English course?

The Pre-sessional was the happiest time while I was in the UK!

I was communicating with classmates every day, so it was very easy to establish friendships.

On my current course it’s a bit more difficult to make friends with native speakers, they speak very fast. Some cultural backgrounds are different, its sometimes difficult to take part in it.

Different modules have different classmates. It’s the same people on the Pre-sessional with similar levels. Most of my classmates were foreigners, such as from Chile, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia and Thailand. It was easier to communicate with people from different backgrounds.

What was the most challenging part of the course and how did you overcome it?

The final examination! It was a hard time for me. There were a lot of tasks, including reading and writing exams, presentations; we had to prepare a lot and everyone was very nervous and worried.

I made a very clear plan for every task – this really helped me feel more confident. Chatting with friends helped, sharing experiences and worries, it was a good way to relax ourselves.

Tutorials also helped. In tutorials tutors can give a lot of useful advice for the final examinations, how to write your essay etc. It was specific advice so it gave me confidence.

What did you do when you were not studying for the Pre-sessional?

I travelled when I could– I went to Cambridge, it made me want to study there! I’d like to for my PhD. It’s an ideal place to study, I love the medieval style with so many churches. All the people that study there are talented.

We also went to parks – especially Regent’s Park, it’s my favourite one in London. I love the lawns, I like that style; you can lie down and enjoy the sunshine (it was sunny during the pre-sessional!). It’s the perfect place to relax, especially good to do before the final exam!

What is it like living and studying London?

Most people have been very friendly – the most common word I hear is “sorry”! Maybe they don’t mean it but it makes people feel better. I enjoy this kind of environment.

How is the UK education system different to your home country?

It’s similar for History within the Chinese education system. In the UK it’s only 1 year, in China its 3 years. We have too many things to do in one year; I could enjoy my life more with 2 extra years!