From Advanced Level Foundation to Durham University
Meet Sofia, who, after completing the Advanced Level Foundation entirely online from her home in Venezuela, has won a place to study Liberal Arts at prestigious Top 10 University Durham this autumn.
Hi Sofia. What course did you do at Kings and what will you study at university?
As I am an international student, I decided that the course that worked best for me was the one-year Foundation course, with which I could apply for all of the universities I liked best in the UK and that would work as a transitional period between high school and university.
I planned to study Media, Communication and Film at the start of the year, but as the year went on and I started my uni applications, I found similar undergraduate courses in different universities that also interested me, such as Liberal Arts in Durham University, which is the course I will start this autumn.
What was your experience of studying at Kings? What were the main challenges, and were there any benefits to online study?
"Due to the pandemic, my experience at Kings was not very conventional, nor what I expected at the beginning of the year. Instead of traveling to the UK, I had to stay at home and complete all of my course online from my home country, however, I think Kings did a wonderful job of including all its online students in school activities and lessons, and I made a lot of (online) friends throughout the year."
'The most challenging aspect of the course was the time difference, for which I had to attend lessons at 4am and made my schedule difficult to keep up with. However, I did have the benefits of living at home and being near my friends in Venezuela, which I think was vital for my wellbeing through the difficulties of the pandemic. On the other hand, I found myself really enjoying my lessons and constantly feeling like I was learning something new, which was great!
How would you describe your teachers?
Throughout the year, I had a very nice experience with all of my teachers, who made my online experience that much better. I would say all of them were always concerned and willing to help me out with whatever I needed, I felt incredibly supported! All of them were very kind, thoughtful people and awesome teachers!
How easy was it to make friends with your peers while studying online? Was there was a good community?
Most of my friends I made during lessons thanks to my teachers’ activities and group projects, however, we always had the option to participate in extracurricular activities to meet new people and socialize! The school community was incredibly international, every person I talked to had a different background and culture, which made it so much more interesting to meet new people. Although making friends online will never be as exciting as meeting new people in real life, I made lifelong friends that I cannot wait to visit!
What are you most looking forward to about coming to the UK this autumn?
"After a year and a half of online lessons, I’m excited to finally attend on-site lessons and begin my university experience somewhat normally! I’m mainly looking forward to living on campus, creating lifelong friendships and learning a lot on the subjects that interest me the most and that will be beneficial to my professional life."
Additionally, I’m really
excited to study in the UK as I feel it has such
a different culture from what I grew up in and
that I cannot wait to experience first hand!
How are you feeling about studying at a UK university and what made you decide to study here rather than your home country?
After having studied in an international British school for two years when I was younger, I have always known that the English educational system was right for me, that it suited my learning methods very well and helped me reach my greatest potential. Having the opportunity to study at one of the oldest UK universities, that offers one of the best Liberal Arts courses in the country is really exciting.
I have always known that I wanted to study outside of my home country, Venezuela, because apart from the difficult political and economic situation that has made life and professional growth very difficult for younger people, I have always wanted to broaden my horizons and experience new things. Therefore, I think studying in the UK would give me countless growth and learning opportunities that would not be available to me if I studied in Venezuela.
What made you decide to apply to Durham and how do you feel about being accepted to such a prestigious institution?
Although I initially wanted to apply for Communication and Media courses in different universities, Durham’s Liberal Arts course stood out to me for its very traditional approach to humanitarian subjects, which felt to me as a traditional alternative to more modern courses such as Media. I had always felt interest towards studying English Literature, Art History or Liberal Arts, although I had opted to apply for more modern courses because they seemed more compatible with our current world in their approach to these subjects.
However, after thoroughly researching the different courses and comparing them to one another, I realized that the modules and classes were very similar, and that Durham, apart from offering an extremely interesting course, also put a lot of focus on its unique university experience and culture, which finally pushed me to apply.
Honestly, after applying to Durham and being sent a conditional offer, getting in felt like a long shot for me. I had been doing well in all my classes but its conditions for acceptance into the course were the highest out of all of my options, however, I focused on doing my best and getting the marks I needed, only hoping for the best.
"When I finally received my end-of-year marks and realized I would be accepted I was ecstatic, and felt like my hard work had really paid off. Now I know I will have an incredible university experience and will receive an amazing higher education from one of the top universities in the country!"
What help did you receive from Kings in submitting your UCAS application?
Receiving UCAS help from Kings was vital to my application to Durham and all the other great universities I applied to; my teachers’ and counselors’ unconditional support was of great help when doing my research into different courses and universities and I honestly feel like it would have been too much of an overwhelming process had I not received all of the help that I did.
UCAS counseling helped me organize my schedule and keep up to date with my applications, which I appreciated greatly as an international student who did not know how the application process worked. I mostly felt relieved as Kings took care of sending my marks, English requirement tests and end-of-year results to the universities for me, which lifted a great weight off my shoulders in regards to all the different deadlines I needed to meet and documents I needed to send.