From Kings London to a law degree at the University of York
Tsz Tung Nicole Pong from Hong Kong completed the Advanced Level Foundation at Kings London before earning a place to study law at the University of York. We met up with her to find out about university life so far and how her time at Kings has most helped.
Hi Nicole. Before you started at Kings, did you know that you wanted to apply for a law degree?
I had an inkling that I would be doing law, yes, but I decided to choose modules that were more business and economics related, just to make sure that it was the way I wanted to go.
Was it always your intention to go to university in the UK?
Yes. I applied also for Australia and in Hong Kong, but my sister studied in Bath and so I sort of always knew that I would study in the UK. It’s why I didn’t do the last year of high school in Hong Kong and came straight here to do the foundation.
How was your experience at Kings?
At the start it was kind of nerve-wracking actually – I came quite late so I missed orientation, but I made a lot of great friends, who I’m still in touch with.
Did you always have London in mind as your study destination?
I actually didn’t really mind where to go, but I thought they had an IR and Politics course at London, which is why I chose that, but in fact that wasn’t the case. That wasn’t a big deal though.
Have many of the other international students you’ve met at York come straight from their country, or have most done a foundation in the UK too?
A lot actually graduated high school and then realised the they didn’t have the credentials needed by UK universities, so they came here to do a foundation.
Apart from the subject content, are there any particular skills you learnt on the foundation which have proved very useful?
Yes, definitely. CSS has really helped with referencing and citing – I never really learnt that in my old school. In my first essay here I already had to do footnotes and citations, so I referred back to my old notes and knew how to do it.
Also, I think by studying foundation I was able to immerse better in the culture and I got used to living in a foreign environment. I got better at meeting people, so it was easier for me when I came to university. It wasn’t too overwhelming.
What types of law have you covered on your course so far?
I have done legal skills, public law (which deals with government and legislation) and I had property law, and criminal law, and obligations. In your first year you’re expected to do a broad range of modules, even though you might be interested in one aspect and then after you can become more specific.
At first I was quite interested in maritime law; in Hong Kong we had the protest and I was interested in international relations and politics, but I decided I wanted to do law. I’m quite interested in everything at the moment, but I’m not expected to choose just yet!
What has most surprised you about university life?
Honestly, it’s more the stereotypical view that London is the best place to go in the UK. Here, you feel like you’re living and having fun with the same people you’ll be with in lectures. It surprised me how friendly everyone is here. The social life is very fun! You have to find a balance.
What benefits are there to staying in a host family as a foundation student like you did?
So many! Fran, she was my host mother, was so sweet. She actually drove me up to York when I started university! It’s so much fun because when I first arrived I was quite scared, even though I’m quite bubbly and sociable, and being in a host family really helped. When I was homesick they were always there for me, and I still talk to them now. I’m going to visit them and they’ll come and see me. It’s nice to know that even though I’m in uni I have a family there who are there for me. I do call her up if I’m upset. She said if I ever want to come to London, you can always come and visit us – I’m always welcome.
When they told me the ALF would be intensive, I didn’t think it would be that intensive and I really wasn’t prepared for it, but my host family were always there for me. It was great having a home from home.
What are the best things about Kings do you think?
I think the staff. When I did my UCAS applications and got into York I remember Emma (Carlile) jumping up and down with joy for me! Portia said she looked even happier than I was! The staff are amazing – they were so supportive and helpful with everything and you really need that as an international student. Steven and Emma really helped with my personal statement – they didn’t mind if I just ran up the stairs and said ‘help’!
Did you take part in activities that helped when you wrote your personal statement?
Yes, I joined the debating society and Kings Enterprise – they have a lot of societies and clubs at Kings.