UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE)


Lizhou Feng

Lizhou Feng, former Pre-sessional English course student

Nationality: Chinese
Previous course at UCL CLIE: 12-week Pre-sessional (2017)
Progressed to: Information Security MSc

Why did you choose to study at UCL?

It’s a world-renowned university, it’s a leading university for academic and career prospects.

And I like London! For that reason, I only applied to UCL. It’s a more interesting city, there are more people. I don’t like the quiet areas, I would feel bored. I decided to study overseas to experience life, the culture and to make friends. It also provides me more opportunities, such as events, exhibitions, socialising and to broaden my view.

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

Now I’m studying Information Security MSc. At first I had difficulty understanding the lecturers due to the different accents, but I had the chance to review them from the video recordings online, which was helpful!

I’m enjoying the Cryptography module – its very challenging, but very interesting.

The assessment involves a lot of lab coursework and report writing. They want it to be brief and precise, so I’m getting used to that.

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

It gave me confidence, particularly with writing. We had a big extended essay, which really pushes you. You have 3 topics you can choose – mine was about Artificial Intelligence.

My tutor taught us how to select the materials, organise the paragraphs and connect them to each other to write a whole essay.

It also improved my confidence with speaking – it made me not afraid to speak out, sometimes I make mistakes but I don’t mind, it’s how you improve.

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

It was really enjoyable – the arrangement and timetable of the course wasn’t stressful. You learnt things every day, but we also had some free time, so we went to explore London. It was very relaxed and well-balanced.

The teachers were really great – everyone is very qualified. My tutor gave really good feedback and good detailed comments. She pointed out my problems and suggested ways to improve. Mine felt really responsible for her students, I still have a connection with her now.

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

The listening! In the Pre-sessional classes, I struggled a lot; even in the final exam, I worried about the listening part the most.

I just practised and eventually you get used to it. You have to speak out as they work with each other. I can’t recognise the word when others are speaking. Particularly from speakers from some European countries, not all words are pronounced. Our listening material is very standardised, so I wasn't used to it. Italians, Greeks and Spanish can be tough.

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

We went to see the Opera – the Phantom of the Opera. It was amazing I have to say. I strongly suggest you read the story beforehand, as it's sometimes difficult to follow.

Now I’ve joined the fencing society – it's not that aggressive compared with basketball – I just wanted to try new things – I really enjoy it. I go once a week. Now I’m feeling very good about my life.

What advice would you give to a prospective Pre-sessional student?

I suggest you participate more in the class. What you can learn depends on how much you participate. I know some students are shy and seldom talk in class – what they get from the course will be less.

Take advantage of all the materials in the Self Access Centre and the library, they’re really good resources.

Don’t just stay in your own environment – there are a lot of Chinese students, don’t just stick with Chinese friends, make friends from all over – enjoy the diversity. Have courage – once you step forward, you’ll find a lot of amazing things. The easiest thing to do is stick with your own, but it’s not good for you.

What is it like living and studying London?

It’s quite an expensive city, particularly the transport and accommodation. The food isn’t cost effective. But London encourages you to live better – you are thirsty to know more, explore more, know more people. It encourages you to open your mind and yourself to new experiences. I’ve made a lot of friends, a lot of interesting people, with unique experiences and exciting stories. This has also enriched me.

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

The professors deliver the lectures, and go through content quickly. They can’t go much deeper in that time allowed, so they provide a lot of info via forums in Moodle.

Lecturers can give you the outline but then you need to study a lot outside of class – it’s something you have to do by yourself. The lecturer just gives you direction. In China – they go into more detail, so you’re not that independent.

Before, I wasn’t into group studying, I preferred to study alone. But since being here, I like to study with others. I’ve become more outgoing.