Chi Cheng Ip

International Foundation Year and BA English Language and Literature

Arriving in a new country was a lot more challenging than I had expected. New people, new living style and different language – all of these were quite intimidating initially, but the foundation year helped me settle in smoothly.

I remember when welcome week started, staff members and previous IFY students helped me with complicated processes and registration. They also organised welcome talks, welcome parties, introduction of the campus, welcome week activities, and some pre-class sessions, in which we worked together with other IFY students. Activities, such as the global café, gave me the opportunity to make friends from all over the world and we are still good friends after all these years.

Studying in the U.K. was quite different from home. I was not sure whether I was really capable and I always doubted myself throughout the year. I was lucky to have had really helpful tutors who allowed me to see what I was capable of and what I could do to improve. It was a stressful year, but it was all worth it when I overcame all these new challenges and got accepted for my dream degree. IFY helped me so much in both self-growth and skill improvement. I just want to say thank you!

I studied social science and literature together with study skill classes during my year and the programme itself was challenging. Indeed, I remember all of us panicking for every upcoming task, fearing that we would not get the grades we needed. Later, however, I found that it was really normal to panic in the beginning. Everything was new, and we all learnt about university as beginners. Thanks to our study skill tutors, we started to get used to Leeds referencing styles and learnt more about academic writing. The modules were not easy, but they were really inspiring and enjoyable. Eventually, they allowed me to look at society and things around me with new perspectives. The foundation year was a key step to university life.

From time to time, we did not know how to improve and we did not believe in ourselves. It was really helpful when tutors arranged one-to-one feedback sessions or small group meetings to know more about our life in Leeds and our academic progress, especially my personal tutor who listened to my insecurities and helped me find my direction again when I was lost.

Academically, university assessment and writing styles were different in separate departments and essay writing was hard initially. Thanks to all those welcoming drop-in hours and useful suggestions my tutors gave, I eventually felt prepared for a university level degree. I was then more confident in my academic study skills as I knew that IFY had prepared me well.

The University of Leeds made me feel welcome as they celebrated diversity and often tried their best to help students who were in need. One thing I loved about this University was their Brotherton library. I stayed there almost every day during my foundation year. I loved the smell of old books and wood, and I could always concentrate sitting behind one of those nostalgic wooden shelves.

I sometimes participated in ‘give-it-a-gos’ in the student union and it was fun trying out different things, such as dancing and singing. The student union provided hundreds of clubs and societies, and the food was nice as well.

The most surprising thing about the University was that they provided over 20 kinds of accommodations on and off-campus. This was really helpful as different accommodations suited the need of different types of students – those who prefer to live around nature, those who prefer the city, and those who would like to live with friends – it has been a nice experience.

In terms of academics, I often felt supported as there were useful workshops about different subjects all year round and Leeds provided me with all I needed as a new student. I met a lot of precious people during the IFY and we continue to be really good friends even though we are all in different schools now. We faced difficult tasks together, supported each other during breakdowns, told each other our stories and we learnt from each other. I was lucky to have met all these people and I believe these bonds will last!

Foundation Year was a fruitful experience. From referencing style to essay writing, IFY modules taught us different aspects of academic skills at a university level and I did not find it hard at all to move to my first year. We also experienced different formats of classes, such as seminars and tutorials, so we did not need to take time to get used to the learning environment and stress again. It is, of course, still a very challenging journey after the foundation year, but it definitely prepared me well for my degree.

After foundation year, I am now doing BA English Language and Literature in the School of English. It has been a long journey and I have learnt so much from my classmates and my course.

Even though I was graduated from foundation year, we have kept in touch and I am now the International Foundation Year Ambassador. Since my first year, I started joining different activities, voluntary work and I even got chosen to attend the subsidised study abroad programme in Japan.

Being a third-year student, I felt nostalgic seeing new people coming to Leeds to take the foundation year, but I also understand that it is time for me to move on to the next step of life.

As my dream is to work in the publishing industry, I have been practising my writing skills by composing some poems and short stories as well. With these experiences in hand, I am doing my best to accomplish my goals and, hopefully, inspire more people and keep being inspired in the future. The foundation year is really a good opportunity for us to learn. Explore different opportunities and you will be amazed by how far you can actually go!