Last Sunday (October the 19th), Brent (Prof. Jones) and I attended the Education UK Exhibition on the 10th floor of the Sky Building in Umeda. Take a look at the poster for the event:
As you can see from the picture, Britain has a dynamic, fashionable image right now, and with the Olympic Games in London in 2012, I think it will become even more popular.
At the exhibition, there were about 60 colleges advertising their study programmes. I noticed that the kinds of things people study in the UK are diverse. Some students are interested in design, others in cookery, still more want to learn British English, and then there are those studying higher level academic degrees. Just as the courses are varied, so too are the destinations in the UK, and of course the people. The UK is made up of several countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The distances from place to place are small, but each has its own unique culture and history. Even within England, there is a huge north-south divide. Our way of talking is the first thing visitors notice. Then they will also see that our lifestyles are different. And then our attitudes to things are completely different too.
As for me, I’m from London, and I went to college at Queen Mary, University of London. I took this picture of my college’s display at the exhibition on Sunday:
I hope in the future to take some CUBE students around London and show them what an exciting city it is. Queen Mary College is actually a little unusual, in that it has a student village on campus in London. That means the international students live and study in the same place, within the college, and so it is really easy to make friends. Before I decided to study in London, I travelled to Cardiff in Wales to take a look at the university there. I also went to Exeter, in the west of England, and visited their beautiful and spacious campus on a green hillside overlooking the city.
Incidentally, it is hard to judge colleges in the UK just on size. For example, Oxford and Cambridge universities have thousands of students, but they live and study in a number of small colleges. So there is an intimate, village atmosphere, just as at Queen Mary. For me, that’s one of the advantages of CUBE also, because it will be an intimate place, where it is easy to meet and talk with students and faculty.
Of course, any students who are interested in studying abroad will realise that it involves a lot of effort. Living in a different culture like the UK is exciting and rewarding, but going overseas is not the same as being in Japan. And then in order to go overseas, colleges always ask how good a student’s English is! We take English education very seriously, and that’s one reason why this blog is in English. As you already know, English education is at the heart of much of what you will learn at CUBE. Do you know which exam is used to test the English of international students going to Britain? Look at the picture:
It is the IELTS exam. Many top universities now ask for an IELTS score of 6.5, though if you are worried then of course there are some that accept lower scores. But anyone aiming high and hoping to go to the UK someday, even on a summer English course, should start planning how to reach that kind of level.
Anyway, that’s all for now. I’m sure I’ll be talking with many of you about the UK soon. There are lots of things to discover, and I learnt a lot myself from going to the Education UK Exhibition.