When a Senior is heading off to university, a few to-do lists are on the horizon, involving preparations for the last few months at school and, more dauntingly, what comes after it. Sure, the world wide web presents many probable answers, but do they truly get what it’s like?
This is where ISKL’s Get Real! series comes into play. Get Real! is where our High School students can explore university options with their predecessors, the ISKL Alumni. The sixth installment of the series took place virtually, with Class of 2021 alumni Megan Lim, who shared her experiences – from sharing the key benefits of taking the IB in preparation for a university to general tips on living in the UK as a law undergraduate at the University of Bristol.
Key Benefits of taking the IB in preparation for University
Megan shares many vital advantages of taking the IB, such as time management, knowing how to write essays, and knowing when to study. “IB makes you take math or a science subject, which is good because it builds you into a well-rounded student. However, in university, you have the choice to pick specifically what course you’re doing. Everything I’m learning about, I’m interested in, and it’s easier for me to engage in,” says Megan.
Another significant advantage is time management. “I had to juggle many different responsibilities when I took the IB, and it’s the same in university, if not more so. Having a good organization system and knowing how to structure your time from IB transferred well to university,” remarks Megan. She adds, “The IB English Literature taught me how to write an essay and structure it in a way that demonstrates an argument. One of the assessments in law school is that you have to analyze many different aspects of the law critically and know how to do an introduction, body, paragraphs 1 through 3, a conclusion, and then structure each section to demonstrate your argument.”
Why the University of Bristol?
Megan says she chose Bristol because she was influenced by a YouTuber who went to the university and is now qualified with one of the top law firms in London. “I wanted to be like her,” says Megan, “and upon further research, I’ve discovered how pretty the city of Bristol is and that it’s a good mix between London, a very bustling, fast-moving city, and a quieter town in Bristol. It’s an excellent in-between balance.”
Experiencing Culture Shock: Pizza, Changing Mindsets and Homesickness
Megan talked about her experience coming from an international school with an international background and how she wasn’t expecting culture shock to affect her. However, little things surprised her about living in the UK. “I don’t know if they do this in Malaysia, but Domino’s Pizza here will give you a free garlic mayo dip to dip your pizza in – I didn’t know that was a thing! It’s been life-changing. They also like barbecue-based pizza, which I don’t think is a big thing in Malaysia, but okay, I would encourage that less, but you can try it!” quips Megan.
On a more serious note, Megan also mentions how at ISKL, the school does its best to spread awareness and educate students about drugs and alcohol. However, she felt she wasn’t as mentally prepared as she should have been regarding the differing cultural attitudes between Malaysia and the United Kingdom. “In the UK, the drug and alcohol culture is normalized, and many of my friends smoke, vape, and drink alone. Even though I knew this existed in the world, I feel that maybe every student should be mentally prepared for it. There isn’t any peer pressure to do any of this, but it’s more of just being aware and seeing that this happens in real life,” shares Megan.
Megan also emphasizes that joining social clubs or networking events is a great way to mingle and meet new people. “In the first year, I didn’t feel homesick until the end of the academic year because many things were going on; I had so many things to get used to and many new people to meet. It certainly helps to know other international students and people who live in the same city. You can easily relate to them about the feeling of homesickness or about missing certain types of food,” shares Megan.
Finding A Home
Megan shared her experience finding accommodation in her first year and how she got lucky as she stayed at the university’s halls. “I had a room with my own ensuite bathroom and shared a kitchen with four other people,” she says. Megan also advises students to go for a room with their own bathroom “because sometimes, in catered accommodation, one may end up sharing a bathroom with 15 to 20 people, even though someone is preparing the meals.”
She added that in Bristol, the housing market is very saturated, so by January of their first year, students will struggle if they don’t have a house. “It would help if you got on that very quickly because there are so many students, and Bristol is very limited in terms of housing. I recommend getting accommodation by late November or early December,” shares Megan.
Preparing for a Law School Interview
One of the questions by current ISKL students was, “What do law schools look for in an applicant?” Megan remarks, “The one thing many universities said when I applied is that you don’t need any work experience. They’re looking to see that you’re motivated to learn the law and that you want to do it. Knowing what you want to do in the future shows you’re more attached to the subject.” She also advised about expressing interest in the university’s law programs and sharing if they’d read any books or materials or watched any movies or documentaries about law and the legal world.
“Prepare well for your interview; you can get a lot of good practice books on writing essays and keep up with the news. I like to listen to the Financial Times on Spotify every morning because it’s an excellent way to give yourself a brief outline of what’s happening in the financial and commercial world. You can also skim through the BBC headlines and pick out something interesting on the Internet that is relevant to what’s happening worldwide,” concludes Megan.
Are you interested to learn more? We invite you to watch the full video where Megan gave more insights on university life in Bristol, in the United Kingdom! Want to become a mentor? Let us know at [email protected].