Mariam Al-Bader

International Foundation Programme

I would recommend the IFP, it gives you so much, not just academically but also socially; I really felt I was part of something when I was studying on the IFP

How did you hear about the IFP?

I applied to study Biomedical Science but I didn’t get the grades I needed. The University then offered me a place on the IFP and I decided to accept it. I am very happy that I did, because it has helped me in lots of ways.

How did you feel when you arrived at Kent?

Excited and tense at the same time. I am from Norway and it was the first time I had lived away from home. I lived on campus, which is a good way to get to know everyone. You don’t feel alone; there are always people around you – walking around campus I can have five conversations in 500 metres! There are lots of places to eat on campus and a shop if you need supplies. The campus becomes your home – I feel like I have two homes now, Norway and Canterbury.

What did you enjoy about the IFP?

The class sizes are quite small, so you get lots of attention. Everybody does the Academic Skills Development module, where you learn about essay writing, and referencing – it’s hard but very useful – as well as other study skills.

The teachers were very good. I’m not that good at maths but the teacher we had was great. He taught maths in a fun way and, in the end, I got 92 in that class, which was amazing. I also enjoyed the seminars, there’s a nice atmosphere which makes it easier to ask questions and get help when you need it. Of the science modules I took, two were actually first-year BSc modules, which meant when I started my degree I was able to do an additional module – hard work but good experience.

The pass mark for the IFP is challenging, but we all helped each other. I remember before one exam, we all got together in the library to help each other, each of us knew different things so we could all help someone. Even though it was just before the exam, it was fun, I had never seen anything like that before; it was really nice.

The other good thing about the IFP is that if you change your mind about the degree you want to study, they will do all they can to help you move on to a different degree programme, as long as it is within the same area as your IFP.

Has your IFP helped you in your degree studies?

It has been very helpful; I didn’t realise while I was doing it how useful it would be – I just enjoyed the social benefits of it. But in my first year I realised how much it had helped. The maths and statistics skills I learnt have definitely been valuable; we were also taught how to do presentations, another very useful skill. Knowing how to reference and cite sources is something I will need for my dissertation, so you learn a lot that you can use in your later studies.

Have you used the Careers and Employability Service?

Yes, they help with your CV and lots of other things, and also let you know about internships and other opportunities. It is a very good service.

What next?

I am not sure. I have always wanted to be a doctor so I may pursue that.

Do you like Canterbury?

I love it, it’s amazing. From the moment I came to Canterbury, I fell in love with it, it’s nice and calm but at the same time it’s lively. It’s a good student city and you feel you belong very quickly. It’s a good area and there are lots of nice places around it too.

Would you recommend the IFP?

Definitely, it gives you so much, not just academically but also socially; I really felt I was part of something when I was studying on the IFP. There are lots of events to help you get to know everyone and you are given a ‘buddy’ (a student who has studied on the IFP previously), which is a nice idea. You learn a lot of useful things, even though at times you think, ‘this is annoying, how is this going to help me’ – in the end it does.