I was thinking about doing this the other day when I went to Leeds and came home empty-handed. But at the time I was quite angry and thought maybe I should figure things out first before I continue this. But since then I thought I do need to get my opinion out there and say what I think of this school.
Now my perspective is from the point of an English-speaking international student. And one who wasn’t there during the week or two they had set out for international students welcome.
I have to say, I am extremely disappointed in my experience. For what I spent coming over and trying to understand things since it is very different from what I am used to, it definitely could have been better.
Now my first semester I was assigned a kind of course supervisor. I can’t remember the exact term but we met once a week the first semester. But before that all started I was supposed to meet with her my first day on campus to get familiar with a few things. First when I went to her office, she wasn’t there yet and we were set to meet at a certain time. Then she kind of explained a few things to me as far as the classes go but when it came to understand other things, she wasn’t really helpful. I was expected to know how things work or ask questions but then I didn’t know what to ask considering I had just been there for about 5 minutes. She walked me to my first class and introduced me to a few people, the majority of us there weren’t from England is the funny thing. At least not originally. And I think I was one of three whose first language was English, the other two in the class were English.
So there I was not really prepared for my class because I didn’t know what I needed material wise and sitting in a room full of people I didn’t know.
I was terrified!
By the end of that semester I knew all of the people because we either talked or had other classes together. A few I did make friends with as well. But being a shy person I just wanted to find a rock to hide under at the time. That particular class was fun actually, we all made websites that held a certain interest to us. We could pair up or work on our own. I had decided to work on my own. The reason I mention this is because there were two guys who paired together and made a website to help people understand how things work when coming to England. I thought it was a fantastic idea and was surprised that no one, not even the school really, had thought of this. It’s bad enough that I struggled with some things but for someone who can’t speak or understand English very well, it’s even harder. I wish I could remember the website because I would have liked to see if they continued with it.
Now the course supervisor we had for the semester, didn’t actually ever explain to us if we would meet during the second semester or talk any more about the group of us meeting up later for events or outings after the initial talk of planning it early in the semester. It was disappointing since a lot of us wanted to get together but our planner never planned anything. I ended up finding out about what my schedule was online for the second semester after many unsuccessful visits to her office and to the admissions telling me that there was nothing scheduled but I had to talk to her to find out for sure. Well it wasn’t for lack of trying!
Then there was my dissertation supervisor. At first I was actually really excited about it because I quite liked the guy. He taught one module early on before two other lecturers took over and when he found out I was American he used to go to me for answer to American things. (Things that I generally didn’t know much about but I pretended to lol). He also used to be a part of the librarianship course that was once taught at Leeds Met but then it got thrown in with the course I took since it could be cut to fit what you needed it for. Some of the classes I was rather disappointed in since they were so general, I felt they weren’t enough for the librarian/archivist part I wanted to focus on. I learned a lot but I had to focus my dissertation on the librarian/archivist side in order to really find what I needed/wanted. I met with my supervisor a LOT! I think we met every two weeks unless there was an issue. And then when we would meet he’d want to see what I was working on. At first he’d shred it to bits and when I worked on the stuff he wanted, he’d start nit-picking at little things. Little things I wondered if they really mattered. I was expected to write at a certain level that I knew I was far below besides writing standards are quite different in the states, even if he didn’t believe me. I didn’t know how to do any better with my writing because unless it’s pointed out to me, I don’t really see it. I had missed a chance to go to a report writing class in the first semester which was my fault but then I never found out about any others.
It got to the point where I was actually dreading each visit because I had to brace myself for what he was going to say and it rarely was positive. One day I felt so low afterwards I actually went into the closest bathroom and cried. I know I don’t always handle criticism well and I tend to be extra sensitive about things but it was getting to the point where I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. Even when he liked something he still found something else to have an issue with, even if it was a word he wanted changed because it didn’t sound right.
So to find that my dissertation got such a low (but passing) grade was the final blow. I needed to know what it was I didn’t do. I’m going home in less than a week and I still don’t know! It’s been several weeks since the grades have gone in and when I went to the reception desk where I turned it in (another thing I had to find out about from someone, I wasn’t told where to turn in assignments!) there were lots there but not mine. There was only one other student he was a supervisor for besides me so it’s not like there were a lot to turn in. I was told he hasn’t turned in anything for dissertations. So I contacted the secondary supervisor as well as him after I left campus that day to ask about it and tell them I’m leaving.
I thought my wasted trip was going to be redeemed by him offering to send it to me. I told him the address I was at until Tuesday and then the American address after that. He said he would send it to Huddersfield and I thought, oh thank God! I emailed the second supervisor to let her know things were figured out so she didn’t have to worry. But then today I get an email saying my dissertation has been dropped off at the reception desk and was given an apology for the added stress and a small explanation.
So now I don’t know if it is being mailed to me. I did just send an email to verify what he meant. But I did say I could not make it to Leeds due to the rest of my money being spent on train and bus fare earlier this week. I had enough to buy my train ticket to the airport but I think I have less than 5 pounds in my bank account. Not even enough to draw money out from a machine. I could take what’s left in there out and close the account but I wanted to leave a little bit in just in case. So I’m kind of having a WTF moment.
I just kind of feel like it’s been one thing after another with this school.
Now there have been people who have been extremely helpful when it comes to issues I’ve had. The admin office for the postgraduates have been there when I needed them. They answered questions for me, I’ve been able to change a class thanks to them and they’ve also been able to confirm details I gave them that I couldn’t change online. I also had thought the research practice teachers were very helpful. They taught us what we needed to know and answered questions as best they could whether it was in person or by email. Sadly one of them retired so people won’t be able to rely on him anymore for help. There were also a few others but they were ones I never really felt close to, they just had a generally friendly and easy-going attitude.
These are the types of people who try to be as helpful as they can and are fully there for their job. I wish there were more of them out there for the international students. I really feel that if there was more done to reach out to the international students and more care for those that aren’t familiar with the system (or even just realize, they’re not used to this, they might need some help) it would be a much better experience. It really does matter if people care or not because it shines through in their performance.
I don’t know if I would have chosen Leeds Met again if I had the chance. I know I wouldn’t choose my accommodation again! I would have saved loads lol But there’s not much to be done now. So it’s one of those life lessons that you can take something away from and then move on. So that’s what I’m going to do.
UPDATE: I am getting my dissertation mailed to me. For some odd reason he decided to listen to what the receptionist told him rather than what we talked about considering the receptionist misunderstood that I could not come in next week to pick my dissertation up since I was leaving Tuesday. And I did tell him I had no money. Anyhow I had to contact the receptionist to ask for it to be mailed. So now the whole mess that shouldn’t have happened is now cleared up and I will see my dissertation. Whether or not it’s before I leave for home is another thing but at least I will see it.