My first term as an international student at Norland
6 December 2021
In September 2021, first-year international student Marie swapped south west Germany for south west England when she began studying at Norland.
Now approaching the end of her first trimester, Marie reflects on how Bath’s independent bakeries are helping her adjust to life in the UK, studying a degree in her second language and offers some words of wisdom to international students considering Norland.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Marie. I’m from a small town in south west Germany and I’m part of Set 45 at Norland, having started my studies in September 2021. Prior to coming to Norland, I finished my A-levels (‘Abitur’) in Germany, was an au pair in USA for a year and then started studying to become a secondary school teacher. However, I ended my studies early to be able to come to Norland.
I have always had a passion for working with children. While living in Germany, I nannied and was an assistant sports coach working with children and youth groups.
How did you first hear about Norland?
I was told about Norland by a family member who read a magazine article about the specialist training. They thought it would be something that would interest me and made me aware that being a highly qualified nanny and working with children was very much a career option open to me. After doing a little bit of research myself, attending a few online open events and finding out more about Norland and what it stands for, I decided this was where I truly wanted to be.
Why did you want to move to Bath and come to Norland?
Everything I read about Norland really resonated with me. I felt like it was the right fit for me and how I imagined my education to be. At the heart of all teaching and work at Norland is the unique child and Norland’s founding motto ‘Love Never Faileth’. Both of these aspects are really important to me; it feels amazing to know that I’m surrounded by people that have the same passion for working with children as I do.
Another reason I chose Norland is the way it teaches its students. I personally learn best when I get to apply theoretical knowledge directly to practical work and Norland’s curriculum with its combination of degree and diploma modules provides me with this opportunity. This made my move to Bath an easy decision!
Even though I made my decision because of Norland itself and not where it’s located, I’ve really come to like Bath. It’s a lovely British city, that feels safe and there are many things to do and see and it’s just a great place for students to be.
How did you find the admissions process as an international student?
At first, I was a little overwhelmed with the admissions process, but Norland has great guides and checklists. I was able to use them to make sure I had all qualifications, certificates and documents to be able to apply to study at Norland. The whole application process went through the UK’s national university application website (UCAS). This meant everything was well structured and helped in ensuring that I uploaded all necessary documents.
Next came an interview with a welcome talk from Norland’s Vice Principal Mandy Edmond and then a talk with another staff member. Even though this can be nerve wracking, it was a great experience as everyone genuinely wants you to do well.
After that, the support of Norland’s admissions team was amazing! If I had questions at any step of the way I was able to contact them and I always received great responses. It was clear what I had to do, bring with me and what the next steps were. This was important and gave me a sense of security before packing everything up and moving to a different country.
How did you settle into Norland and Bath?
I settled in nicely to both Norland and Bath. Norland provides students with the opportunity to request accommodation, which is a great way to make sure that you know people before your first day and avoid feeling lonely or out of place. My housemates and I spent a lot of time together in the first few weeks to bond and get to know each other. That and being open to talk to new people and get to know your classmates has helped me make friends and settle in quickly.
One other thing that helped me settle in was Norland’s amazing student support! Every member of staff is great and incredibly approachable for students. I knew that whatever my concerns were, I could ask for help and would be supported in every possible way.
I’ve done so much already like going on walks, exploring Bath, having cosy nights in with a movie, finding parks to sit in for a chat or a picnic, having fun with your roommates and friends and just being open to everything new that you will encounter.
I’d recommend trying to find something that links you to your home country or things that you are used to. For me personally it was bread! In Germany we have amazing sourdough bread, and I was really sad to not be able to have it here. But then I went out and found a few small bakeries that make bread the way I know it. It is something really small, but it helps me a lot with feeling at home, so try and find yourself a bread equivalent.
What is it like living in Bath as an international student?
I don’t think it’s any different to living here as a student from the UK. I haven’t had any bad experiences at all but rather the opposite. Everybody is really helpful and if I look a little lost, there is always somebody to offer some help.
The great thing about Bath is that there are other colleges and universities as well. This means being an international student is not unusual and it’s always surprising and fun how many people suddenly say something to me in German when they hear me say something. I would almost say it’s an advantage to be an international student in that regard because you get to meet so many different people from different places.
What has been your favourite part of the course so far and why?
I’ve already learned so many new skills and gained so much knowledge that it’s truly hard to pick one single thing that has been my favourite. However, I enjoy the practical parts of my studies very much. All the things I learned in food and nutrition and projects I’ve done in sewing were so much fun. It’s great to see yourself getting more confident and improving your skills.
The masterclasses are another favourite of mine as they focus on a different subject every week. We’ve learned to fold and use terry towel nappies, had self-defence training and did team building exercises. Overall, everything has genuinely been great and every lecturer tries to make the modules as interesting and engaging as possible.
What are you looking forward to in the next few months the most?
I’m most looking forward to the placements as they’re a great way to build on the knowledge we’ve acquired so far and gain experience in different settings. They’re also a great way to continue learning more about how children develop and the best ways in which you can support them. I’m enjoying every part of my studies so far. So I look forward to being at Norland and being surrounded by people who all have the same passion for working with children. Additionally, I’m excited for student life in Bath, getting to know the city better and spending quality time with my friends.
What were you most worried about before coming to Norland and what would you say to someone with that same worry now?
I was very nervous about how everything would be and if I’d be able to make this my new home without my family and friends around me. I tried to keep an open mind and be excited for all the amazing things that lay ahead instead.
One of the things that worried me the most was the process of setting up a bank account in the UK. I tried to do this while I was still in Germany. To open an account here you need a few documents that can be hard or not possible to acquire when you’re not living in the UK and have never lived here before. My worry with this was that I wouldn’t be able to pay my tuition fees on time. However, the finance team is completely understanding and will support you in every way they can!
English is my second language so I was also nervous about whether the academic level and expectations would be too high and if I would be able to handle it. If you’re worried about this as well, I can assure you that you’ll receive a lot of support at Norland. They will make sure that you get all the help you need to succeed.
Whatever your worries are, you can always ask for help! I know this can be nerve wracking at the beginning as you don’t know anyone, but you will quickly find out that every staff member wants to help and support you.
What advice would you give to other an international student who is considering studying at Norland?
If you’re thinking about applying, I can urge you to just do it! Norland is everything I expected it to be and even more. I couldn’t be happier to have come here to get this amazing education.
When you start your studies, remember to be kind to yourself, that it is okay to be overwhelmed by everything and experience culture shock every once in a while!
It is a big change and it’s normal to miss your home, your family and everything that makes you love your home country. Just keep focused on all the adventures you are going to experience and get to tell everyone about.
Are you from Germany or speak German and considering studying at Norland? Marie recently spoke to ZDF about her time at Norland so far.Watch ZDF programme