Life as an international student at Norland: Meet Anja
9 June 2021
My name is Anja, I’m 25-years-old and in my second year at Norland. I’m an international student from Slovenia, which is a very small country with just two million people located next to Italy, Austria, Croatia and Hungary.
I joined Norland in September 2019 as part of Set 43. In Slovenia, I gained a lot of experience working with children as a nursery assistant, a children’s entertainer in a hotel, and a soft play and rhythmic gymnastics coach assistant.
My journey to Norland started properly after the new year in 2018 when I moved to north London to start working as a full-time, live-in nanny with three children (a two-month-old boy and two girls aged three and five years). When I joined the family, they still had a maternity nurse for the baby so my focus was mostly on the older girls. When the maternity nurse left, the mum returned to work for a few hours each day. When the girls were at nursery or school, I focused on caring for the baby and I loved it. I worked from Monday to Friday, 7am-7pm, and had the weekends off. I spent my free time in central London, going for walks with my friends, relaxing in the house or going on trips with the family.
I remember one evening, when I finished work, I was browsing YouTube and a documentary about Norland came up in my suggestions. I clicked to watch and by the end I was on Norland’s website. I decided to go on an open day in May 2018 to get more information. After an amazing and unforgettable time, my decision was final and I knew Norland was the perfect fit for me. In October, I submitted my application through UCAS and, in February 2019, I received an invitation for the interview.
The interview took place in March 2019. I came to Bath from London the day before, and stayed overnight in a hotel close to Norland. On the day of my interview, I came to the reception and then I was taken to the common room where the other candidates were waiting. First, we had a one-to-one interview. It didn’t feel like a formal interview but more of a chat where I was asked different questions about my experience with children and why I would like to study at Norland. After the interview, it was time for a group presentation. It wasn’t scary at all; everyone was so friendly and welcoming. Some people in my group (there were five of us) brought activities they had done with their charges in the past, while I spoke about my experience with children. A week or so after my interview, Norland offered me a place for September 2019. I was so excited I immediately called my family and friends to share the happy news with them!
It felt like a long time between getting my offer in March and starting in September. But there were still a lot of things to do as an international student. Since English is my second language, it was important for me to get an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) certificate. I needed to get a National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARIC) certificate since the school system is different in Slovenia than in the UK. I also needed to get a translation of my birth certificate and criminal record check.
Prior to enrolment, I received information about my first-year accommodation and I started buying the uniform. It was really hard to say goodbye to the family I had worked with for a year and a half. I can’t express how thankful I am for everything they did for me. I’m really happy that we are still in touch and I can’t wait to see them again when restrictions are eased.
September came, and I moved to Bath. My accommodation was a lovely town house that I shared with six other first-year students from Norland. Norland doesn’t have a big campus like other universities and students are located in private properties around Bath. During your first year, Norland will find you accommodation. Then, in your second and third years, you find accommodation yourself and choose the people you would like to live with. Some people stay living with Norland students while others live with students from other universities or lodge with families. All my housemates were lovely and really excited to start studying at Norland. At the beginning, I was a bit concerned about how we would get on because I am a bit older than the others, but we got on really well. Bath is a small city but has the perfect combination of city and country life. I explored Bath together with my housemates. We went for a walk to the Royal Crescent, went shopping, took an open top bus tour around the city, and many other things in the first few weeks to get to know each other and Bath.
At Norland, everyone is really friendly. It is quite small in comparison with other universities, which means lecturers know you by name and everything is on a personal level rather than being just a number. If you are struggling with something, the staff at Norland will always take the time to have a chat and help you.
My favourite parts of the course are definitely the practical aspects. I love our food and nutrition sessions where we learn different recipes every time and cover important information on nutrition and dietary requirements. Placements are a really exciting part of the training for me as well. You get to go to a nursery, a school, a hospital, and work with families and in many other settings, and help them by sharing your knowledge and gain new experiences. We also have sewing. I never thought I would say this but I really enjoy sewing now and look forward to new projects! I hadn’t sewn before Norland and it was quite stressful in my first year when we made bunting, which was our first project, but now I am really impressed when I look back at what I have created.
My message for any international students who are thinking of applying to Norland is just go for it, don’t think about it too much and follow your feelings. If you love children and have a passion to work with them, then come to Norland. I know the whole process is a little bit more complicated for international students, but it’s definitely worth it. Norland is the best place you can study and you’ll earn a top class early years degree alongside the prestigious Norland diploma. There is no course that can compare to Norland, it’s just unique. You also get to live in the beautiful city of Bath and make friends for life!