Do a master's in Psychology abroad in the UK

Could it be possible to live my dream?

I had a job as an English/Spanish phone interpreter and I worked from home. I got to help people communicate efficiently despite the language barrier and this made me feel more confident about my foreign language skills. My calls were mostly from American clients but once in a while I’d get a London based call which always made me feel much more excited. The UK had always felt like a magical place for me. Blame it on the romanticized media we consume in films or just the strange appeal of a gloomy weather but I always dreamt of visiting England.

So an idea started growing in my mind... what if I studied abroad? Could it be possible to live my dream? I knew it’d be challenging but I trusted I had the skills and so far I had postponed any postgraduate studies so it felt like enough time had passed.

I presented the idea to my dad, who has always encouraged to dream big and he loved it. He told me I had full support if that’s what I wanted to do and that I just needed to decide where and when. I have to admit that choosing the place was the toughest decision ever! Of course my mind went immediately to London but I wanted to be close to London without actually living there. I wanted the peace and calmness of a small city but also to be able to explore the magnificence of central London whenever I felt like it, and that’s how I came across University of Essex. I applied to the University of Essex MSc Psychology course and the idea didn’t actually come to reality until March the next year when I received an unconditional offer letter telling me I was also eligible for an Academic Excellence International Scholarship. This is the moment when it all got real.

Preparations and the hunt for my new home

While I was juggling between work, travel plans, visa arrangements and I also had to start looking for a place to live in Colchester. My parents settled from the start that they would prefer for me to have a spare bedroom in case they wanted to visit and considering they were gonna travel with me to help me get settled, university’s student accommodation was disregarded immediately so I started looking for a two-bedroom-close-enough-to-the-campus-affordable-furnished flat on the internet through platforms like rightmove and zoopla but all the properties I contacted required a guarantor from the UK and I didn’t know anyone living in the UK. I was losing the battle with time so I just figured we could stay in a hotel the first couple of weeks and hopefully find me a place to live soon. Then, a miracle happened, one of the many listings I contacted reached out to me telling me the person who was in process of renting the property had fallen through so I had a chance and to this day I consider this agent who turned out to be the son of my landlord a gift from heaven. The virtual viewing of the flat showed me a two bedroom flat located in the first floor of a building that was equally close to the town as to the University. Totally furnished and very well communicated with public transportation, its safe to say everything went smooth from that moment onwards - for the documentation process they accepted my dad as the guarantor and I signed a 12 month contract. I still live there. 

University of Essex

I knew from the start that University of Essex was a prestigious, awarded, highly rated and multicultural university that’s mainly why I chose it. I found the application process very easy and welcoming for international students. The admissions team were always available and helpful. And this is where another sent from the heavens comes into action, my advisor from Across the Pond. I don’t particularly remember how I came across the agency I just know I’m thankful for it. My advisor advised me throughout the rest of the process and she was always there to answer my questions and as a link between the University and me. My CAS letter arrived in time and my visa got sorted efficiently before my (anticipatedly arranged) travel plans. After settling into my new home and exploring around town the date to start my studies finally came. The department of Psychology held and introductory activities week where I had the chance to know the campus and its facilities while also meeting some of my future coursemates.

Psychology in the world

I had always known that psychology is still in the progress of getting the recognition it deserves as a science in my home country but being confronted with how different it is to study psychology as a recognised science with all the support and means needed in order to conduct first level research made me feel a bit sad about the conditions under which many of us, aspiring psychologists went through studying in Mexico.

My course was a conversion course, it means that its designed to give you all the basic knowledge a graduate from a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology should have but in just one year. It was intensive. Lots of my coursemates came from different backgrounds. And I, had a BA in Psychology which gave me a slight advantage by being familiar with some concepts, theories and methods. Although as I mentioned earlier the resources may not be a good in Mexico, we did get good academic contents and for that I’m grateful.

One of the main differences I can point out between educational programs in Mexico and the UK is the amount of coursework. I remember having one piece of coursework PER MODULE, PER WEEK to say the least while studying my bachelor’s in Mexico, while there was barely one or two per module per semester here in the UK. I’m not sure whether if this difference means one system is better than the other one because I guess it depends on the student but personally I feel like there’s more room for actual critical thinking when students can focus in just producing one good essay instead of being overloaded and overworked trying to reach deadlines for multiple assignments.

I really liked my course. I have always being passionate about psychology and the University of Essex’s psychology approach is much more research based. For my dissertation I went for a more cognitive field, carrying out an actual experiment using equipment and a lab provided by the department with help of my supervisor. I used an eye tracking device and collected the visual field data from all my subjects while walking around campus to then code the recordings and measure how many times they looked at people’s faces with the purpose of studying its relation with anxiety.

Life off-campus

Colchester is a city located in the East of England. It is small but has everything anyone could ask for. From beautiful sceneries to a buzzing nightlife. It takes around 45 mins to and hour to get to London by train and you can travel anywhere from there.

I’m not a party person so during my free time I normally enjoyed having a beer with my friends or travelling around to explore as much as I can. I had the opportunity to meet people from so many different countries, England (of course), India, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Italy, France, Spain and so many more. I also bonded with some fellow Mexican students and made very good friends with whom I explored London and everything it has to offer.  I also went to concerts, being a big fan on live music makes living in the UK feel like a fever dream. Of course my wallet doesn’t approve but I’ve enjoyed so many concerts and festivals in a couple of different cities which has also helped me meet more and more incredible people.

To summarize, if you can get used to function through the rain and cold temperatures I’d say England is a beautiful country, full of culture, nice people and amazing views.

Bilingualism: blessing or challenge?

Both. One of the first things everyone here says to me after learning I can speak two languages is that they wish they were bilinguals. Even though I don’t think my English is perfect, my english language skills have been praised so many times by native speakers and its because they recognize that being bilingual is not an easy task. In Mexico its almost a requirement nowadays to know a second language specially if you’re applying for a job, so for me, its just something I’m used to. Since I was a kid I showed interest for English as a language and I made it part of my life. Music, books, films, I always preferred to consume any type of content in English and I guess it paid off. Neither my parents or I were even sure I had a proficient English level because its nothing I ever took too seriously, it was more of a personal interest. So when I decided to study and live in England it was like the moment of truth. There’s no better way to test not only the language dominance, but also cognitive flexibility, resilience and problem solving than moving abroad. No matter how confident or used you are to be bilingual, studying and living abroad is always challenging and requires a daily effort. Studying and taking lectures in english was scary at the beginning but I found out that the more you are exposed to the language, the easier it gets. At first I had to really concentrate in what the lecturer was saying so I could make it make sense in my brain but after a couple of days I felt like I was understanding everything as if they were speaking in Spanish.

From having to ask “what does that mean?”, “sorry, can you repeat that?” to occasionally slip a word in my native language or having to blatantly describe an object cause you can’t remember its name in English, bilingualism and adapting to live in England has enriched my life in both personal and cultural ways.

Wrapping up...

I don’t think I’ll ever find enough words that completely describe how amazing all this process was. All I can say is that experiences are invaluable, living in a different country, testing and challenging yourself only to find out how capable you truly are, meeting the kindest people along the way and seeing things you only knew from the tv or pictures with your own eyes is just magical. Now, don’t get me wrong, not everything is a fairy tale - feeling homesick, lonely, having to start over without your family and loved ones can be really hard but you’re never alone. The university offers wellbeing services and mental health support to those in need and most of the people you’ll meet will be willing to offer a helpful hand if you ask. In my experience, local people are very kind and supportive towards foreigners, and of course fellow foreigners are also kind-hearted and open to help in any way they can. It is okay to ask for help if you’re struggling but I promise the reward will make it all worth it.

- Astrid

Back to Student Experiences
Send us your student experience

Send me more information!

We would be happy to answer all your questions about studying in the UK!

❗️Please note that our university partnerships vary from region to region. Once we are in touch and know where you are from, we can indicate the options available in your country.

Which country are you from?

We noticed you chose Norway.

There is a dedicated website for Norwegian students where you can find specific information and make an enquiry.

We noticed you chose Canada.

There is a dedicated website for Canadian students where you can find specific information and make an enquiry.

We noticed you chose the United States.

We would love to be able to help all students in all circumstances but unfortunately US federal rules prohibit third party involvement for candidates anticipating making use of federal funding.

We noticed you chose Mexico.

There is a dedicated website for Mexican students where you can find specific information and make an enquiry.

We noticed you chose Colombia.

There is a dedicated website for Colombian students where you can find specific information and make an enquiry.

We noticed you chose Sweden.

There is a dedicated website for Swedish students where you can find specific information and make an enquiry.

We noticed you chose Chile.

There is a dedicated website for Chilean students where you can find specific information and make an enquiry.

Need Help?
Send us a message