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Studying in Birmingham Changed My Life (and Here's How)

In this guest post, University College Birmingham student Madalena Ribeiro tells us about how her time in the UK studying abroad changed her life and helped her land her first job. Her experiences will give you the confidence you need to study in the UK!

Feb 6, 2024
  • Student Stories
  • Study Abroad in the United Kingdom
  • Why Study Abroad?
Study in the UK

In this guest post, University College Birmingham student, Madalena Ribeiro tells us how her time studying abroad in Birmingham changed her life and helped her gain the skills and confidence to land her first job.


Hey everyone, my name is Madalena! I'm from Lisbon, Portugal, and am currently finishing my BA (Hons) in Marketing with Events Management at University College Birmingham. I've now been living in Birmingham for three years and have learned a lot about myself and about the subject area I am studying. I will share my journey so you know what it’s like to study in the UK.

When I was in the 12th grade, I didn’t have any clue about what I wanted to study at university. The only thing I was sure of was that I wanted to study abroad.

At the beginning of my final year in high school, I learned about a company called OK Estudante that help Portuguese students to study abroad in the UK. As soon as I heard about this opportunity, I booked my meeting and started sorting the paperwork - I wanted to be ready to study abroad in September that same year.

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Moving to Birmingham helped me become independent

September arrived and my life started changing a lot. I'm an only child, and I wasn't used to doing much at home. I was fortunate that I moved in with others, because I couldn’t even cook eggs - one of the easiest things to cook!

During the three years I was in the UK studying abroad, I learned how to cook. Now, if I were to live alone, I think I'd be fine (of course, I'm still not a master chef, but maybe one day).

Moving to study in the UK also helped me to become more mature and financially independent. I used to be a person that was always spending money, and now I know how to save. As an only child, I was never allowed to go out as much as I wanted, and always had to ask my parents for money. Being in the UK studying abroad taught me how to be independent - I was even able to travel with my own money, which for me was a significant achievement!

What's more, I used to be a timid person, but now my favorite method of course assessment is presentations!

The student lifestyle in Birmingham helped me step out my comfort zone

Another challenge that I found when I arrived in Birmingham was the need to adapt to a new routine. I'm a person that loves routines, but in my first year of studies, I only had three days of classes. For the first few weeks, I found myself lost. Eventually, I started looking for a job and visited the city in my free time, which eventually helped to create my own new routine. I even started reading more, which was one thing I wouldn't usually do daily.

For many international students studying abroad, making friends is one of their biggest concerns, and I was no exception. I thought that my English was horrible and that no one would understand me even with the required English qualifications. But I was wrong! When I was in the UK studying abroad, I ended up making many friends. One of them, who I met on enrollment day, is now my best friend!

Because Birmingham is a multicultural city, I was able to meet and befriend not only other Portuguese people, but people from all around the world. Having such a diverse group of friends allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation for other cultures and traditions (as well as a few potential holiday homes).

Studying in Birmingham gave me work experience

When I was still living in Portugal, I had zero work experience. Usually, people in Portugal only start working after they graduate. But when I moved to Birmingham, all of my university friends were working during their studies, which I didn't know was a possibility.

Towards the end of my first year, I got my first job! It was a great experience. I learned how to be more organized, made more friends, and the job helped me understand how to save more money and stop spending on things that I don’t need.

Currently, I am working as an event and social media assistant for the Enterprise Hive at University College Birmingham, a department that helps UCB students open their own businesses. If it wasn't for my time abroad and deciding to go and study in the UK, I would not have developed the skills in time management, writing, communication, and problem solving required to be in my position today!


This post was developed in partnership with University College Birmingham.

About UCB

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Based in the heart of the UK’s biggest regional city, University College Birmingham (UCB) is highly respected by employers and industry for providing career-focused education and training.

UCB specializes in vocational courses in both the Higher Education and Further Education sectors with a growing portfolio of Apprenticeships.