My name is Ruslan Gafarov. I am from the Ukraine. After graduating from the gymnasium [high school] I entered the Odessa State Economics University. But there was no spirit of economics discipline in the university of economics: only a shell of it.

What was especially disappointing is the absence of individuality: of an individual approach. Practical lessons were attended by up to 40 students, but questions were answered in general terms at best. I started to combine my studies at the university with practical training and work, and began to take various educational courses. That is why I stated my decision, quite reasonable and conscious I think, to seek education in the UK.

I have not faced many significant difficulties, but one particular problem I have been experiencing since being in England is English. It may sound ridiculous, until you are here. But I beg you not to anticipate in laughing. More or less all overseas students are used to American English, or at least to its international version. And the main problem is the understanding of pure, genuine English language. By comparison, in my country when we meet a foreigner and he does not recognize what we are saying, we try to pronounce sounds and words more slowly and comprehensibly, and if necessary, even simplify previously said sentences. But in England, no one does that.

The only thing you can hope is that something said unrecognizably will be repeated again but without changing anything. Sometimes it helps, but usually it does not. And this is not my personal opinion, but lots of students as well. Moreover, even local people admit this fact. This can be really stressful.

Once I asked my lecturer, "What I should do to increase my English proficiency especially in listening? Should I listen to local radio or communicate with the locals?" The answer was pretty much obvious. "Both. As much as you can". But in most cases, lecturers, particularly in my University, understand that you need some time to familiarize yourself.

One thing I can advise: don't give up, don't lock yourself in a room and don't get yourself drunk because of this. It is absolutely normal and you have to overcome this uncomfortable circumstance. I will tell you what I do: I listen to the radio, watch BBC, go to three seminars instead of one, attend various lectures given by the British and of course communicate with the locals. But I am not quite sure what could help in such a problem depending on lecturers or other teaching stuff, except just realizing students' problems and trying to explain materials as well and as understandably as they can.

What I think is that teaching entities should present a lot of ways for students to progressively develop themselves and to grow up mentally. The University of Buckingham has a specific centre dedicated to English studies, helping students throughout the world get through their personal difficulties in this matter. Also we have a Student Support department available 24/7, which is designated to give help of any sort and to maintain the most comfortable life and, most important, to facilitate achieving excellent results in studies. Isn't this the reason you came in the country? I don't want this to be presented as some kind of advertisement. I am just saying this in the way the things are, in the way they are being done. I want this to be taken as advice for students on how to cope with the problem and for universities on what they should be trying to achieve.

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