It is not only freshers’ who are starting something new at York this year. This academic year sees the start of the terms of four new sabbatical officers. Ahead of the 2022/23 academic year, Nouse caught up with new Academic Officer, Deb, to discuss being an international student at York and all things Freshers as well as how he has found his first few months on the job.
He firstly spoke about his own experience as an international student, the UK “is the first country [he] moved to for education” moving from India “almost a year” ago. He summed it up as being “really amazing” before offering some further advice for international students. “You have to connect with the local people and understand how the culture is, then you will enhance yourself.” This is as equally important as mixing with those from similar backgrounds and with similar experiences. Deb highlighted how he had both an Indian and Asian community in York which he regularly spent time with. He said that he “learnt so many things… and met so many people” from working “part-time in McDonalds”.
He specifically mentioned how he learnt the differences between the UK and Indian education systems, given that “from [his] point of view, the education system is very different.” For example, at undergraduate and postgraduate level, “the differences in marking and everything”. This will mean that “from the first day onwards, if you are aware of all the things, [he thinks] it will be very interesting”. With regards to academics, he noted the importance of proof-reading your work as well as avoiding plagiarism would aid academic success.
In students’ spare time, he recommended that they “explore the city and around Yorkshire, it is very beautiful.” Adding that “the entire university and people in York are very, very friendly.”
With regards to socialising at York, he stated “English is [his] third language and [he] used to fumble a lot”. However, this did not stop him getting involved socially, adding that “every time, I was welcomed when going to a party or making a new friend.”
He recalled moving into Halifax, in a flat full of international students, and meeting an American flatmate in his accommodation who welcomed him, and then they went to meet the rest of their flat together before going to one of the many club nights YUSU provides. He advised people to be “open and share [their] views” to ensure that they have a “really great year”.
Asked what his top tip was for students as academic officer, was to “enjoy your time in York as this time won’t be coming back” as well as “maintaining academic results” to be able to “go ahead with your future”. He also reminded students to “be mindful of the Covid situation” following winter last year which saw a new variant emerge.
Deb wished to highlight that students should follow YUSU on social media, particularly Instagram where they are most active as well as looking into and joining societies. Emphasising that “every student” is welcome in joining societies and being involved with the Student Union.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to ask him about his new role. On the topic of his first months in the job, Deb noted that “the job is going really well” and that “YUSU have been really, really amazing and supportive”. Alongside becoming Academic Officer, he has been finishing his Master’s degree in cyber security which he completed in the first week of September. He has received training in the role over the summer and has been holding meetings with necessary parties.
When asked about his manifesto promises, which can be found here, he said that he is having meetings with departments about scholarship opportunities to determine “the important information” and how “he can support more scholarship opportunities for the students”. His meetings will be finished in the next few weeks and he will follow by coming up with his project to support students in this matter.
He also wants to support students in studying beyond their course modules. He asked the broader question, “if I want to learn something extra, apart from the course curriculum, what are the extra things available for me?” This is something he will be seeking to answer in the coming year. He emphasised that this is not forced learning, but if students want to learn something extra, he wants to support them in doing so.
Part of his manifesto worked on opening up internship opportunities for students to gain more experience in their preferred field. He noted that the “careers and placements department are doing really well” and also the importance of the Handshake platform in connecting students to internships. However, he wants to work on “how we can enhance, how we can improve” the “number of opportunities available for students in various fields” for those who “want to learn more or want to understand how industry is working.”
On the topic of the move from modularisation to semesterisation which will happen in the 2023/24 academic year, he appreciated that it will be a significant change for students who have more than one year of study left. He and his team will be “coming up with a series of information from the union” as well as “an FAQ page” and “an anonymous Google form” for students to raise questions. He stated, quite simply, that “all the questions are welcome here”.
Throughout the interview, Deb stressed that he is “really looking forward to the next academic year”