On International Students

Englishnewsstudent living

Approximately 20% of Aberystwyth University’s student body is made up of international students, and, for most, it has been a long journey to get here - both literally and metaphorically.


Discovering Aber

Aberystwyth’s main appeal seems to be the fact that it offers a variety of degrees, some of which are the precise level of specificity to attract students like Solana Aquino (from the Philippines). She states that she chose Aberystwyth over all other universities as Aber offers ‘a very specific course which was tailored to [her] interests’, which is War And Intelligence at a Master’s level.

For Florence Rawlinson of America, the reason for choosing Aberystwyth lies in the university’s generous acceptance criteria, which offers a lot of alternative opportunities to students who had not taken the required subjects for their major, like the Foundation year.

The university is involved in the Erasmus exchange scheme, which allows students from European countries to come to Aberystwyth for an exchange year or semester. This allows a lot of students to receive the experience they feel is necessary for their future careers.

Angelina Schmidt (Germany), who is here through the Erasmus scheme, states that she sees studying abroad as the ‘best opportunity to improve [her] English and I think it’s important to do so as an English student who wants to be a teacher.’

Additionally, the International Accommodation Scholarship allows international students to live on campus either at no cost or at a half price. This allows students to be able to reap the benefits of a British education at a lesser cost, which is responsible for a large part of the university’s appeal to international students. It was a main part of Aber’s appeal for me too. As an English Literature student, it was very important for me to be able to study in the UK and the scholarship has helped me to achieve this goal at a lesser cost, for which I am very grateful to the university for.



Journeys to Aber vary from a walk down the road to a whopping total of 36 hours, but the travel time is only the final stretch of months of preparation. A lot of documents are required before you are able to even apply for a visa, and many students struggle with gathering their documents. Solana says ‘I kept having issues with the bank statements, as they weren’t in the correct format for the university to be able to recognize them’, an experience I also had as there are a lot of official barriers to being able to collect all the necessary documents to be able to get the Confirmation Of Acceptance For Studies (CAS).

Interestingly, this experience seems to be limited to students travelling in from less developed countries, as Angelina and Florence did not have the same difficulty with the CAS. Angelina, as an exchange student, had her own difficulties with the Learning Agreement which was a part of the arrangement for her to be able to study here.

Travel itself is not the easiest part of being an international student, and everyone has their own struggles with it. Florence struggled with packing, as the luggage restrictions make it difficult to be able to take everything you would like to with you. For Solana, the hardest part

was the train travel within London. Angelina found the coach from Birmingham to Aber the most draining part of the journey as it was the final part of the travel,and I had a 10 hour overnight flight, which was bad as it was hard to get any sleep.



As the university has such a tight-knit community, everyone has found it quite easy to get used to living in the new environment. Angelina commented, “there's so many international events here, it’s very refreshing as in Germany they just push you into cold water”.

Although this provides international students with a lot of opportunities to bond with others like them, it can lead to a lack of socialisation with local students, an issue on which Florence commented as being one of the difficulties regarding getting used to Aberystwyth.

The distance from your home can be quite challenging, and one of the most apparent ways in which it is felt is through the lack of familiar cuisine. Solana stated that “food is much blander than what I’m used to”. This is an issue I have also encountered – everyone has heard jokes about the lack of spice in British food, but I doubt any of us have expected it to be pretty much completely true.

Additionally, the time difference is not an easy obstacle to overcome. You’ll often find that when you are free to call your family and friends are all asleep. Florence has found the difference in time especially difficult, as being five hours ahead has made phone calls home difficult.

Everyone I interviewed commented on what a beautiful and welcoming place Aberystwyth is, and has stated that they are all greatly enjoying their time here so far, an opinion I also share.