International students travel from all over world to experience university life at De Montfort University 

By Catarina Quintas

Kajetan Pewniak travelled all the way from Poland in 2020 to start studying a foundation year in media at De Montfort University in Leicester before going on to study film studies and is now in his second year of the course. 

One of the biggest challenges when moving abroad was the language barrier, according to Kajetan, who said: “Getting used to speaking only in English was not easy at first and I was embarassed to talk to people so it also became hard to make new friends.”

Kajetan’s journey from Poland to Leicester

Not only was the language barrier a challenge and something Kajetan had to adapt to, but the fact the he started his journey in 2020, right in the middle of a pandemic, was not ideal.

Kajetan, as well as most international students, ended up being stranded in the United Kingdom for months due to flights getting cancelled and flying restrictions. 

“I did not get to go home for Christmas for two years straight, I missed my family way more than I though was possible,” Kajetan added. 

International students come over to the UK for the experience of being abroad, including for the whole university experience, but that was not something students who moved abroad in 2020 have had.

Kajetan claimed that he only started going to parties and going to university events this year.

“For two years I didn’t make a lot of friends,” he said, “and to be honest the online lessons were not what I was expecting, I really didn’t know anyone besides the very few people on my online lessons.

“The uni had several international student support meetings and online events during my first year at uni, and they did somewhat help. However it was not really the university life I was expecting.”

Most international students have difficulty adapting to a new culture and a new life all by themselves. Kajetan was just one of them and this was his perspective. De Montfort University focuses on helping international students more and more to try to make sure all are integrating smoothly and quickly. 

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