My name is Malo and I’m from France. I study BA (Hons) Criminology and Sociology and I’m soon graduating, so I have plenty to say about Winchester!
Why Winchester, you ask – well, first, they had the course I wanted to study. In France, I couldn’t do Criminology; it’s a Masters in France and I wasn’t patient enough. I was also interested in Sociology in my home country but Criminology was in my mind too. Winchester offered both Criminology and Sociology so the choice was easy; it’s a good excuse to study abroad and my parents were okay with the choice. And coincidentally, the year before I applied, I went to Oxford to perfect my English and I had to change trains at Winchester and the city looked lovely – maybe it stayed in my mind since then. Why the UK then? It’s close to France: I can take the ferry from my hometown and 3 hours later, I’m in the UK and one train ride after, I’m in Winchester. Proximity was a huge factor. Second, I wanted to leave France; living in France is cool for many different reasons but I felt I needed to leave to see different things. Two years before I applied, I went to the UK to study English intensively in language schools during the summer and I gained confidence and fluency to speak English. The fact that I was able to speak English is a huge reason why I chose the UK, but also that English is the international language and opens many doors for careers. I wanted to speak English as good as the British so I chose to study in the UK.
What’s good about Winchester? First, how walkable it is! At first glance, it may not be the case and you’ll have to get used to it: on the way to the campus from the train station, there is a massive (maybe not that massive) hill and I wouldn’t advise carrying your suitcase along that hill like I did on my first year (it’s doable, it’s just the workout you wish you didn’t have to do). You can take the bus from the train station to the university so don’t worry but just to let you know there is a hill and don’t be surprised about it.
What’s good about the university is that it’s not too big and you can’t get lost. The lecturers of my course are all very engaging and they make their topic very understandable – if English is your concern, you should be fine anyways. You can email them often and they are happy to help. There are plenty of societies around the university, and what’s good is that the Student Union has made a commitment to have a majority of non-alcoholic events so if you’re not a drinker, it’s all fine, you can socialise too! I know university culture is very much about drinking and partying but it’s more than okay to be sober to make friends and have fun.
More generally, life at Winchester is very relaxing and very lively! When you walk down the high street, there are plenty of independent cafés and they all have their originality. For example, you can go to Rawberry to grab yourself a healthy lunch and study there (they have a study space) or you can go to FlatWhites’ to grab their latest hot chocolate creation – their weekly specials are amazing and definitely a must go if you choose Winchester. You can also shop locally and sustainably as the town is committed to sustainability (just like the university)! At the time of writing, it’s the end of November so there’s the Christmas market and the big Christmas tree in the high street and it’s beautiful.
Winchester as a city has the advantage to be close to London – if you plan ahead, you can go there in less than £20 and it’s just 1 hour of train ride! You’ll spend more money in London than in Winchester but it’s a nice day-trip. You can also go to Southampton for a shopping trip for a 15-20min train ride. You can also have a day-trip to Stonehenge. If you want to travel for longer, you can go to Oxford, Bath, Bristol, Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Brighton… That doesn’t mean you can put your studies on hold though!
A word of advice I would like to share with prospective students: sometimes going abroad is scary – you’re going out of your comfort zone and think of the worst scenarios (and your parents will think the same). However, you are going to university and a whole support system is there to help you: from housing, international recruitment (us), student services, the student union… but also other international students like you. You are not alone in this journey, there’s always someone there to help you and you can talk to. And we also have an International Society where you can make friends and relate your struggles too! And above all, you can do this, prove to yourself that you can study abroad and step out of your comfort zone, it’s such a huge confidence booster. I hope this helps seeing what it’s like to live as an International Student at Winchester and all the best!
By Malo our BA (Hons) Criminology and Sociology student from France.