One Year in Aberdeen and RGU as an International Student

Master’s student Michael moved from Nigeria to Aberdeen to study International Marketing at RGU. This week, he celebrates his one-year anniversary since his move and reflects on his time with us and in the Granite City.

On September 12th 2022, I left Nigeria to come study a master’s in International Marketing at RGU, in Aberdeen. It was my firs time leaving the shores of my home country, which I love so much. Looking back at the last 365 days, I am impressed and proud of how much I have grown.

Leaving with goals and objectives

Before leaving Nigeria, I set priorities to make the most of my time in Scotland:

  • Graduate with good grades. I believe that what is worth doing is worth doing well. That’s why I had for goal to graduate with distinction.
  • Improve my network. I’ve always believed that my network is my net worth, so I told myself to build a quality network during my time in Aberdeen.
  • Build my career. As a young marketing professional, building a thriving career in marketing is one of my primary goals. I believe there are lots of things I can offer to the industry. I knew I needed soft and technical skills to thrive in my field. I planned to go all in to acquire them.

Armed with my goals, I waved goodbye to my family and friends at the airport. My first impression of Aberdeen was how different the weather was and how neat the city looked.

The following day, I had to settle in quickly to get all my administrative tasks sorted, such as opening my bank account. Days turned to weeks and lectures started. The first classes were challenging as our accent in Nigeria is quite different from what can be heard here. However, it didn’t take time for me to adjust to my new reality. The lecturers were so supportive and accommodating. I could message them and be sure of their prompt response to my email.

Getting a part-time job in Aberdeen

I’m sharing this because it teaches the importance of speaking out and networking. All three jobs I’ve taken since I came to Aberdeen were through someone informing me about the vacancies. I remember getting my first job after meeting someone at RGU and telling him I needed a part-time job. He told me to go to the company and when to go. Luckily, they shortlisted my name after a few days of attending the interview. 

The information or resources we need are often readily available to another person. By speaking out, we can achieve our goals faster.

Being a course representative at RGU

As someone who always loved to help others, I was honoured to serve as the course representative for my cohort. This was my first time leading a diverse group of people from different cultural backgrounds.

I have learned a lot about Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion during my time in the role, which is a key priority of the University. I ensured I acted with the understanding that we’re all different and unique individuals, checked that all my classmates felt respected, and engaged in active listening.

Serving as the course representative is a tremendous honour, and I don’t take it for granted. 

Volunteering and networking in Aberdeen

During the last year, I also volunteered in the city with different groups and organisations. As a faith-minded person, I volunteered with the Kids Team at Kings Church. This helped me become better at interacting with people. Aside from this, I also volunteered with charities such as the Touch of Love Foundation and supported events for Granite City Noir.

As networking was one of my goals, I took advantage of both online and in-person methods. I mainly used LinkedIn online. I ensured that my profile was well-optimised and searched for people in Aberdeen to connect with. However, I don’t just send a connection request, I also craft a personalised message to explain who I am, what I do and why I want to connect. Most people will reply positively, there is even one person who has become a friend after connecting on LinkedIn!

Offline, I have attended events to meet new people, such as those sponsored by Business Gateway and Elevator. Despite the events being free, they are of incredible value to develop communication skills and network with professionals.

I also paid the £70 student fee to become a member of the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Aberdeen. This was one of the best decisions I made. Nothing trumps being part of a community of young people passionate about growth. JCI Aberdeen organises knowledge-based workshops, social gatherings, and trips. I’ve built quality relationships from these opportunities.

My key takeaways

After an enriching year, I can now give the following advice to other students:

  1. Don’t be afraid to start over again. I was scared to start from scratch in a new country. One year later, I know it was one of the best decisions I made.
  2. Partake in extra-curricular activities. Studying a postgraduate degree should also be fun. I personally wish I had taken part in more societies at RGU or taken advantage of the free RGU SPORT membership.
  3. Build a network. You can never tell how your networking efforts will benefit you in the future, or when it will allow you to help someone else.
  4. Enjoy the process. Pursuing your goals is great, but enjoying the journey is as important as reaching your destination. Life is a collection of moments and memories, make the most of them.

Michael Akintayo

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4 responses to “One Year in Aberdeen and RGU as an International Student”

  1. Wow am really inspired with your story and I have learnt from it.please how can one reach out to you .

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