What it’s like to be an international student studying mechanical engineering

7 Dec

Going abroad for studies is always a big dream for anyone and a very big decision.

I remember spending a lot of time researching the UK universities, fees, courses offered, course structure, rankings etc. But the best insight into life at the university can only be given by the student currently studying there, and I read many Indian student stories which inspired, as well as helped, me make my decisions.

I have been studying at the University of Portsmouth for two and a half years now and I have gained enough experience to talk about living and studying here.

I get many queries from aspiring students asking me various questions about the University and UK and how it compares to the Indian Institutes, mostly related to Technology.

So here I answer three of the common questions and share some tips from my experience.

How different is studying abroad from studying in India?

In terms of teaching and course content, there is not much of a difference. In fact, my previous studies were in line with what I have learned here.

The teaching methods are very similar but what really differs is the use of technology and resources, such as using PowerPoint presentations. And the concept of self-study in the university’s library. The university’s library is comparatively big and boasts of vast e-learning resources.

The one thing I was really amazed with were the world-class lab facilities available here at the University of Portsmouth. A key highlight of the course is undertaking a company-based project, for which a student can use these lab facilities. This contributes to the overall learning, and is something that should catch on in Indian universities.

Top learning – the teaching staff at the University of Portsmouth’s Technology Department is comprised of people who have spent years working or researching in the industry and come from various parts of the world. They have a vast knowledge in the field, which they are willing to share with the students taking up similar projects.


How difficult are the exams?

Students also often ask me how difficult are the exams? Well, when I first came here, I felt the course was very easy, and exams would be very simple, as I often aced at solving examples. But it was very apparent after my first exam that just solving all the examples over and over will not guarantee that I ace the exam. So, what went wrong?

Let’s face the truth! Maths is Maths, Newton’s laws remain the same all over the earth and we need fuel to run the machines, whether it’s UK or India! So, the equation is simple, if you do not study, you will fail. You cannot ace the exams by studying just a night before.
(Yes, I have learnt this lesson the hard way. All engineers do!)

Top tip – Just solving examples over and over will not guarantee good marks, you must also understand the concept. The exam questions are designed in such a way that you must apply your knowledge and understanding to be able to solve them.


What about extra-curricular activities, seminars, and skills?

We have always heard about why hobbies are important, and how academic knowledge is only part of the picture. The major fact I like most about studying here is that the lectures are well-planned so you have ample time to gain other valuable skills through various activities.

University of Portsmouth encourages learning through experience, and a student will find many opportunities such as volunteering, extra-curricular activities, and research seminars etc.

In terms of technology, the School of Engineering, at the University of Portsmouth arranges many research seminars, and talks by visiting faculty from universities across UK and Europe. Students are expected to attend and ask questions. As an international student, I was not very familiar with this kind of teaching and learning as I never came across such method.

The major highlight of my studies here is the University of Portsmouth’s Formula Student team of which I have been part of for two years now. Again, it is a form of learning through extra-curricular activities and I am amazed how much emphasis is given on this. ImechE, the governing body of Mechanical Engineering in UK, conducts the Formula Student competition every year, and it is a one of a kind competition where engineering students put their knowledge to test. It was important for me to gain some experience, and when I joined the team, I got the opportunity to apply my skills.

Now, I am the Head of Business in the team, and I have developed many working relations not only in the University but also with the team sponsors. Extra-curricular activities like this can boost your confidence dramatically.

Top tip – Seek opportunities, they are waiting for you. Develop all-round knowledge and skills through various activities.

Top tip – It’s alright if you don’t always score first-class marks, as long as you are gaining experience from various activities, and don’t let your grades fall dangerously low, you are on the right path.

I had not thought of coming this far ever. It is the positive environment here at the University of Portsmouth’s Technology Department that lets you grow and other universities may not necessarily have such mechanisms in place.

Top tip – The great thing about being an international student and studying Mechanical Engineering is that you learn the best of engineering from both worlds!



This blog was originally published here and has been reproduced with permission.

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