Expand your horizons at York St John University – Samah Almohtar
“York has a unique and special community - it can easily become your second home."
York St John University is a public university located in York, England in the United Kingdom. The quality of education offered at York is excellent, with professors invested in their students’ knowledge and growth, and the university community is diverse, inclusive and welcoming.
At York St John University, you will join an institution which values you as a unique individual with incredible talents and potential. We want you to study in a place that accepts you for who you are and helps you to discover who you want to be.
- Silviya Lewin, International Development Officer, York St John University
SchoolApply interviewed Masters student, Samah Almohtar, an international student at York St John University, to hear his opinion on the school’s academic and social life and how enrolling at the university has impacted his life.
YORK ST JOHN UNIVERSITY
Location: York, England (UK)
Student Name: Samah Almohtar
From: Beirut, Lebanon
Favorite class: This is a difficult question because I really enjoy all my classes very much! If I had to pick a favorite class to date, however, I think it would be Critical Perspectives on Contemporary Literature. The professor who delivered this module is a genius - very capable, very professional and she has a lot of enthusiasm about the subject matter.
Favorite school event: My favorite event so far has been my class theater trip to London as a part of the Contemporary British Literature module. We watched The Ferryman written by Jez Butterworth and performed at the Gielgud Theatre. Not only was the performance extremely thought-provoking and moving, I also got to spend an entire day in London for free, walking around and exploring.
Five words to describe York St John University: Professional, Excellent, Affordable, Lovely, Rewarding
Tell us a little about yourself and your previous school experiences.
I have lived and studied in Beirut my whole life, and I moved to York for my post-graduate studies in September 2017. I believe the level of education in Lebanon cannot be compared to the level of education in the UK. Throughout my previous academic years in Beirut, I had to take almost full responsibility for developing my academic skills without the kind of close monitoring or supervision I usually receive here throughout my courses.
How did you hear about York St John University and what made you decide to study in the UK?
Knowing that the UK is the homeland of English literature and the birthplace of writers and poets who inspired me, it was my dream to pursue my higher education in the UK. As I was about to start applying to prospective universities for my masters degree, I attended an introductory seminar on York St John University in Beirut. The speaker, Mr Phillip Gray, did a wonderful job helping me visualize what my academic life would be like at the university. It was very helpful to speak to someone who had actually studied and lived at York St John. I was fascinated by the long history of the university and its accomplishments, its growth, and satisfying statistics that showed its strengths. I also found it very affordable.
Did you have any problems adjusting to life in a new country and university? If so, how did you overcome them?
Life at York St John has exceeded my expectations. Making new friends was easy as everyone was so friendly and welcoming. York is not a very big city, so I did not have to worry about transportation. It usually takes me about 15 to 25 minutes to get to most places to run some errands or to get to the university.
All I had to get used to was the cold weather and navigating around town. These were not big problems for me, as I had already mentally prepared myself for England’s notoriously cold weather. And by the end of the first month, I knew how to get around the city center very well.
The Northern England accent is not difficult to understand, but it was definitely unfamiliar. I did have to sometimes ask my friends about certain British/Yorkshire terms and expressions.
York St John’s International Student Support team organizes meetings and fun events for overseas students on campus. They helped me find friends who were also new to the university and studying outside their home countries. This was really amazing because I met people of different nationalities and from various cultures. Overall, it was quite easy to adjust to living in York and to start making the most of my time here at the university.
What degree are you pursuing and why?
I have always genuinely enjoyed English literature, from reading novels and writing essays to exploring poetry. Having a good academic background in the subject, my talent and skills were a source of confidence for me. I had already chosen to study English Literature for my undergraduate degree in Lebanon, having been inspired by writers and poets such as Shakespeare and Wordsworth. During my undergraduate studies, I relished reading contemporary novels the most and found them critically engaging with modern issues and social concerns. Based on all this, my decision on my MA course was relatively easy to make, and I decided to pursue the Contemporary Literature course for my postgraduate degree.
What has your academic and social experience been like as an international student at York St John University?
I was certainly impressed by the proficiency, enthusiasm, and welcoming approach of my professors. In all my classes, the professors have always been consistent, engaging, exciting, and compelling. The professors do not normally lecture in class. In our relatively small classes, the students are usually seated in a circle. Everyone is expected to contribute to the discussions and debates, and I found this strategy significantly productive and critically engaging.
On a social level, the city of York is indeed a gem of a place. York has both a cozy, rural feeling and a modern touch to it as well. I never get bored of walking around and marveling at all the awe-inspiring historical treasures scattered all over town. The city center is bustling and there are always cool events happening all year round, like the amazing Jorvik Viking Festival. There are also fabulous parks and gardens around the city.
What were your first impressions of York St John University?
I was very impressed by the absolutely beautiful campus of York St John and by the architectural structures of the buildings. I remember I thought that some of the 19th-century buildings such as the Quad had come out of a magical fairytale. A lot of areas around campus are open and decorated with stunning green trees and rows of lavender. It is really amazing.
After my first few weeks, I realized the people in York are very kind, helpful, and compassionate. York has a unique and special community - it can easily become your second home.
What are your plans after you graduate?
I am very likely going to pursue my PhD here at York St John. Generally, my plan is to become a professional academic working at the university level. That is my goal for now.
How has York St John University prepared you for life after college?
I have learned so much in my time here. Living and studying amongst students from all over the world, I believe I can live in any diverse community now. I feel stronger, more confident, and more independent. I have a greater capacity to understand others and accept them for their differences. I am ready to embrace life after college with more positivity, more seriousness, and a kinder heart. Living with English people has been a really special experience for me. I have also definitely broadened my outlook on life and my knowledge on countless topics.
Do you take part in any extracurricular activities at York St John University?
There are tons of really cool activities to do on and off campus. One of my first friends here introduced me to the YSJ Mountaineering Society, and I like to go climbing indoors with them at the Red Goat Climbing club from time to time. The Mountaineering group also organizes outdoor trips to places where they do some climbing.
I also had the opportunity to join the editorial committee of the York Literary Review (YLR) which is a journal that features pieces of literature we receive from around the world. I’m very excited about it because it is going to be internationally published this year, and I am proud that I am taking part in such a fine piece of work.
Do you have a job while studying? If yes, please elaborate on this experience.
I was fortunate enough to obtain the job of a digital ambassador at York St John University. I knew a job like this would be perfect for me because I loved the university, and this was a great way for me to both work and naturally channel all the positive impressions I got from my own experiences around campus and the city. My work entails writing blogs, uploading posts on the university’s social media networks, and making vlogs. This obviously requires creativity, and the process of creating all that content which portrays the beauty of our university is incredibly fun.
What would you say to international students who are considering studying at York St John University?
Studying at York St John University has been life-changing for me. My experiences at this university helped me cultivate brilliant ways of thinking and approaching any issue. Living in a new culture and meeting people from around the world increased my capacity to be more understanding and open to diversity and change. I learned that everything can undergo transformation and that it requires me to put in the effort to make that transformation take me forwards and for the better.
Studying at York St John is University is highly affordable compared to other universities. In fact, it is in the top 10 most affordable UK universities. The education provided is very rich and you will be surprised by the incredible proficiency of the professors and lecturers here. And of course, you will have access to all the technology and resources needed for excelling in your research and studies.
When you Study abroad 2019 away from your family, you want to feel happy and comfortable in the place you are studying. This is what I found here, and I feel very lucky for that. York St John offers a world-class education, with a lovely inclusive community, on a marvellous campus situated in an amazing city where you will have a genuine English experience. If you choose to study at York St John University you will never regret it!
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