Preparing for UK university with A-levels
A-level student Thao Vy Ngo (Vy) from Vietnam shares her experience so far of life and learning in London.
Hi Vy. What made you decide to come and do A-levels with us?
I chose this because I wanted further education in a quite developed country. They have a history of education in England.
How was starting in January, rather than September? Did you find it stressful?
It was sometimes stressful — at first it was hard to make friends and get used to the new environment. I had culture shock at first. London isn't really like the London I imagined!
That's interesting to hear. How would you say it is different?
Historical buildings and the palaces are like the fairytale, but there are lots of modern buildings with fashion brands too. Beckenham feels more like the countryside! Beckenham is good too.
Is it good for your studying to be in Beckenham?
Yes I think so. I prefer it to Brixton (one train stop away), where I'm staying in private accommodation.
What subjects are you studying?
I'm studying Mathematics, Politics and Economics.
Do you have a favourite?
All of them! One of the ones I like the most, because of the teacher, is Politics. He is very funny and helpful as well. Not to say that the others aren't, but he’s great.
What would you say are the best aspects of the school?
I would say the best aspect is the number of students in the classroom. So far the largest number of students in the class is in Mathematics, which has 11 or 12. It's much easier for us to ask something we don't understand, or to have a one-to-one conversation with the teacher. The teachers look after us more carefully than in my country.
Have you joined any clubs and societies yet?
Yes! I have joined Pilates and Spanish. Pilates is for training our flexibility and keeping fit. We can ask the teacher for advice on how to keep fit and eat healthy. With Spanish, it's very fun to learn a new language.
Have you made lots of friends, and is this the first time you've studied with people from other countries?
Yes I've made a lot of friends. This isn't the first time I have been in a class with other international students. When I was studying English I went to an English Centre where there were also international students.
There, in Vietnam, we didn't really have a connection between friends. Mainly we were strangers going to the same place and talking about the same topic. After school we went our own way, but here we can go out for lunch or play a game, there’s more connection here.
Where are your friends from?
India, Vietnam, also China, Iran, Venezuela, South Korea and Germany.
Do you like living in London?
It's quite expensive, but it's also worth it because compared to others it's very multicultural! You can find things from all around the world in the same place, which is quite amazing.
What are you most looking forward to about the next few months?
Seeking help from teachers as I'll have very important exams. Also finding more friends.
What are your plans for the future?
Firstly I will get a degree from university then I will try to stay here to experience more.
What do you want to study?
Economics. I have applied to Kingston, City, Goldsmiths, Royal Holloway and Greenwich. I want to stay in London! I got all 5 offers so it's hard to know which one to choose!