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Global fusion

Dozens of international flags fluttering in the breeze

Ashley Chea

Two years ago I was studying for my degree at home in Malaysia, thinking I knew just what my life would hold. That was until I had the opportunity to transfer to ARU and complete my final year here in England.

It was an amazing experience, but one year was not enough. It was all over too soon, especially as I’d just started working in the University’s International Office, where I was really starting to find my place. I knew I had to stay but with only three months left on my student visa, the clock was ticking!

After a difficult phone call with my parents, I applied for a Masters degree in Project Management. The International Office even helped me obtain a scholarship to assist with some of the costs. It was the biggest decision of my life, and it lit a fire under me. If I was going to commit to staying here then I was going to make the most of it and find a way to give back to those who’d helped me.

ARU student Ashley Chea with other members of the International Society

The summer before my Masters began, I went on my first ever trip to Europe with my boyfriend, an Anglia Ruskin University graduate. I met so many amazing people and felt really grateful for the opportunity to get an understanding of different cultures. It gave me an idea: why not start a society to welcome and bring together ARU’s international students? After bouncing the idea around with a former colleague from the International Office, the Students' Union International Society was born. Just a few months in and it was already a hit. We’re helping foreign students exchange languages and even come together to celebrate the diverse holidays that our members bring with them from back home.

Earlier this year, the International Society held its first Global Week Conference. The overwhelming talking point from attending students was that people from all backgrounds need to come together to better understand their fellow humans, not just those who look and live like them. Ultimately that’s our goal. We want to help all students, not just international students, to get the most from their ARU experience – beyond the expected academic achievements. We can all come together to share our cultures and our experiences, and there’s as much to learn from that as in any lecture hall. There’s a place for everybody at ARU.

Ashley Chea studied business and project management at ARU. If you're thinking of joining ARU as an international student, find out more about the support that's in place for you.