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Realities of post-university for an international student

4 min, 24 sec read
11:00 AM | 12 May 2017
by Bunga Runtunuwu
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So this is it. The moment that you’ve been waiting for since the night after fresher’s week is finally here. You are finally done studying, and if you are like any other university student in general, you are out of it for good. You might feel relieved, but some (or most) of you probably feel disoriented, a bit lost, and actually more stressed than that time you cried at 3am on the day your dissertation was due. The intensity of these cases is immensely multiplied if you are an international student.

So if you have graduated, and are counting down to the day your visa expires, you will be able to relate. If you are almost graduating, this is just an advanced warning of the realities that you will possibly face. If you are not an international student, let me just say you are privileged. Here’s an overview of what you will encounter in the final year of studying, plus the ever so generous three months that you are given to find a decent job that is willing to sponsor your visa.

YOUR FULL-TIME JOB: FINDING ONE

Okay, this doesn’t only apply to international students, but it may feel like breathing, let alone relaxing is no longer an option if you want to stay in the country. Job hunting becomes a full-time job on top of your actual occupation and studies. Just to make things more challenging, you have to find a company that likes you so much, they are willing to go through the pretty expensive and complicated process of sponsoring your visa. You have to be able to prove that nobody else can do the job as well as you can.

You might panic because you have spent almost a year’s worth of free time travelling around the UK and Europe instead of gaining some experience while you are in an amazing place that offers invaluable experience.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen for you, or that you should give up trying.

As you can imagine, this is not easy. So you have to start this pretty much full-time job of being a job hunter early on, while you are doing your dissertation, working part-time in Topshop, trying to maintain a social life, and enjoying this very indefinite time you have left in the country. however , it's important to remember that you are not the only one on this boat. There are many organisations that offer advice, opportunities and networking prospects. I like to milk every day of its opportunities. You don't know who you could meet, you don't know what prospects today could bring.

YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU BELONG ANYMORE

If you’re like me, you moved thousands and thousands of miles away from your comfort zone that is home, friends and family. Everything is so different to what you were already familiar with for about 18 years, so you have to adapt to what seems like another planet. You have spent a year crying because you miss your friends and family, and spent two years trying to find ones that are just as awesome.

At this stage, you have already managed to do all of this, and very much enjoying it. You are used to the humour, the streets, and the obscenely expensive but delicious food. You have finally found your crew, and maybe even your main squeeze . You have found your flow in the workplace, and just overall already relatively accustomed to the culture where you are.

With everything go so right, you might feel anxiety about the possibility of going home. It is a scary possibility, but remind yourself that you had the confidence to move a million miles away once, you have the ability to morph, develop and become better. If you don't get to stay, then be ready to use this wisdom you have attained from this amazing adventure and apply it to your life when you go back home.

Is it what you really want

You always have to ask yourself this question and be ready to answer it honestly. You might have made friends and fallen in love with the city you have been in for a couple of years, but is it what you really want, because the answer to your question will help you decide how to approach your final year.

If your answer is no then study hard, carry out some internships, travel, enjoy the experience. Live and learn.

If your answer is yes, then you might have to work much harder than others. You will have to carry out as many relevant work placements as possible. This means doing your research, find out if the companies you are applying for offer a visa sponsorship, find out if they have ever successfully sponsored someone in your position. Remember, this is a time and monetary expense so the company will have to be dedicated to you.

It’s not all doom and gloom

It’s not definitely not an easy situation to find yourself in, but it also doesn't mean it's the end of the world. There are many people who get sponsored to work in other countries. Stay positive. And as annoying as it sounds, what will be will be.

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