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Student Spotlight: Jeanne Jarvis-Gibson

Hi there! My name is Jeanne and I am currently pursuing a Master Degree in Media and Communication with a major in Digital Culture and Communication at the University of Liverpool, UK. I wanted to share with you my reasons for studying with the University of Liverpool, and my experiences so far.

In 2015, I had the privilege of studying abroad in the UK for one semester. That trip changed my decision in what I would major in as an undergraduate student and it positively impacted my life forever. The friends I made, the places I travelled to, and learning how to live on my own changed me as a person. So, I knew for a fact that I wanted to go back to England for graduate school. And why Liverpool? While studying abroad we had taken we took a bus trip to Liverpool for one day and I instantly fell in love with it. There was so much to see, to experience, and to explore. There was live music everywhere, free museums, and stunning architecture. The location was perfect too, being a few hours away from London as well as Scotland. I knew straight away that one day I would want to come back to Liverpool.

One of my friends had used a college advisory service where she made her decision to study abroad a few years ago. I took her advice and emailed an advisor from the company to help get a sense of different schools in England and programs that would cater to what I wanted to study. My advisor was extremely resourceful, and I received a list of different programs that might interest me. After narrowing my list down, I applied to four Universities based on the school’s ranking, the specific programs, and the living cost of the city where the schools were located. After getting accepted into four schools, I ultimately chose my top choice, the University of Liverpool. Throughout the application process, the University stayed in contact with me to send reminders of documents and application processes, and assistance was on hand regarding my visa as well from their International Advice and Guidance service.

According to Petersons.com, “annual tuition at public colleges and universities totals nearly $30,000 and at private schools nearly $40,000” in the United States. The tuition for University of Liverpool was £17,300 which converts to about $22,000 dollars. On top of a lower tuition, the living costs in Liverpool compared to Washington DC is significantly lower. When I lived on my own at my apartment in DC, my average grocery bill per week was around 50-60 dollars. The past few weeks in Liverpool my average grocery bill per week is around 25 pounds which converts to 30 dollars a week. 30 dollars a week is $1,560 for the year compared to my grocery bill in DC of $55 per week, which saves me about $1300 for the year. I took out student loans using FAFSA despite the lower costs, but consider it an investment I truly believe that once I complete this program, more job opportunities with higher salaries will become available to me thanks to this international experience. It helps as well that the University has a central Careers Service, who host events, online resources and one on one counselling for all students.

Picking out my accommodation in Liverpool took a lot of time and research on my part. I first looked at the costs of the on-campus housing and calculated how much it would per week. The University has single occupancy apartments with shared living areas and kitchens, both on and off campus. The advantage of staying in university housing is living with other students; their in house Residential Advisors organise social events and excursions for students so it’s easy to make friends. They also have a guarantee of a spot for international students who reserve their room before the booking deadline. However I was looking for something different so I researched off-campus housing and looked at the distance from the University as well as price. I found my accommodation, located just 15 minutes from campus which was both cost effective and the right option for me. I live with five other flatmates and share a kitchen with them. I fortunately get my own bedroom and bathroom which I consider a luxury, as US dorms and housing normally have shared bedrooms and bathrooms. Having flatmates has also been helpful as well as I always will have friends to come home to, to have dinners with, and to ask or offer advice to. Sleeping is also important, especially with early morning classes so it was vital for me to make my room as homey as possible. I went to affordable home stores of which there are many in Liverpool to personalise my room and make it cosy – after all, it will be home for a year!

It is a rarity to come to a new country by yourself and make connections instantly. During my first week here, the campus was flooded with people eager to direct me to my classes and answer any questions I had. To say I was impressed by the entire staff was an understatement. I can’t help but compare it to my undergraduate school back home. We did have a few orientations for new students, but I have never felt as welcomed and at home as I do in Liverpool. For example, during Welcome Week the International Advice and Guidance team run sessions specifically for international students, on everything from how to budget to how to navigate the local “Scouse” accent!

My classes at University so far range from 20 to 50 people, with both local and international students. My professors are all helpful and offer office hours for any student who has specific questions or need advice on an upcoming assignment or project. The libraries on campus are great resources as well, open 24 hours with study rooms that students can reserve, copious amounts of books to rent, and helpful advisors. It was reassuring to know these resources were available to me at no extra cost, should I need to check out a book for my course for example.

Apart from the University itself, the city of Liverpool is gorgeous and a safe, friendly place to live. I have been exploring on my own, from walking into town and enjoying the music, going to the docks and dining by the water.  It is lively at night, with live music on Matthew Street, shopping on Bold Street, and the latest films at the theatre. I have also joined the postgraduate society at the University and have attended multiple events catered towards international students. Socialising and networking have already brought me new friends from all over the world. It is important to make that effort, because experiencing new people and trying new things is what studying abroad is for.

When I look back at the personal statement I wrote as part of my application for this program, my key point within the essay was about getting out of one’s comfort zone, and to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Sometimes the things that one may fear the most makes the most impact in one’s life. I ended my statement with a quote from J.R.R Tolkien that sums up my decision to study abroad and the way I feel about Liverpool right now. Tolkien writes in his poem “All That is Gold Does Not Glitter” that “not all those who wander are lost.” I look forward to keeping on wandering, exploring, and immersing myself in this beautiful city.