International Foundation Programme
The IFP gives you time to adapt to studying at university in the UK.
Why did you choose to study Law at Kent?
The University of Kent appealed to me because Kent Law School is a critical law school. I didn’t have the appropriate qualifications to apply for Year 1 of the undergraduate degree, but I was able to choose a Law pathway on the International Foundation Programme (IFP) .This gave me the opportunity to get comfortable with both the University and the major, and the IFP has introduced me to the real world of law. I’ve developed deeper interests in criminal and commercial law, and I plan to choose the optional modules in these areas during my degree.
Had you lived abroad before coming to study at Kent?
No, I’m from Jeddah in Saudia Arabia and I have lived in Saudi Arabia my entire life. I had been on summer camps to Switzerland with friends but when I came to the UK, apart from some family members in different parts of the country, I didn’t know anybody. For some, this could be a stress factor, but looking at it positively, it can be considered a new start, and a chance to grow independently.
How easy was it to settle in and make friends?
The University offered a variety of events that allowed students of all stages to introduce themselves. This allowed us to find people with the same interests, backgrounds and mentalities – from the Arab Society that invited us to karaoke nights, to the Harry Potter Society who played Quidditch, and more education-related societies that helped with studying. With all this, in addition to classes, it was easy to make a diverse friendship group.
Where did you live during your IFP year?
I lived in Tyler Court C, which is the newest block in Tyler Court. Coming from a large city, I had to adapt to smaller living space and a smaller city, but, regardless of size, the most important factor was comfort. Tyler Court was worth the price in regards to comfort, accessibility and hygiene.
Did you feel safe at Kent?
On the IFP, one of the first meetings we had was with the Head of Security on campus who gave us phone numbers we could call and there’s an app you can use too. They even have security staff and volunteers to escort you from buildings to your dorm or car at night – or to open the doors for your dorm when you’ve accidentally locked yourself out! I speak from personal experience on the latter!
Would you recommend the IFP to students who may be considering applying?
The introduction to university can be stressful – there are a lot of people, some of whom already know each other, with classes and modules that take time to adapt to. The IFP gives you all of that, but at a smaller, more manageable scale. It gives you more time to adapt and introduces you to everything you need, and to people who understand what you are going through. Right now, I’m one week into the first year of my degree and I feel less anxious than last year because I have a better understanding of studying at university.
What happened when the University went into lockdown because of the coronavirus?
I moved out of my dorm, and lived with my sister in Reading, until I was able to go back home to Saudi Arabia. The pandemic itself was a surprise, which left most of us confused and unsure of the near future. The IFP team were understanding of the confusion and the difficulty of the transition to online teaching. They supported us with every module, and much more.
Have you been able to return to Kent for the first year of your degree?
Unfortunately not. Saudi Arabia is still going through a flight ban, and only sending students overseas if they need to have face-to-face learning, which as a Law student I don’t. Online classes are much easier than they were last year but they have stumped the likelihood of meeting new people in the traditional way: accidentally walking into them, seeing someone just as confused as you are, or even hearing that they’re from the same region as you are. However, we have new methods of befriending others, such as scavenger hunts, trivia quizzes and many, many group chats.
Looking back to your IFP year, what did you enjoy most?
The friends that I made. They came from different countries, with different backgrounds, and we taught each other so much about everything. University friends differ from high school friends, not in the sense that they ‘last forever’ but in the sense that they mean so much to you, so quickly. They become the only link to social life and fun in times when you know no one. While the IFP as a programme taught me how to grow as an individual, the IFP as an opportunity gave me a family, and memories I will cherish for years to come.