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An Interview with Marina Abramian, International Journalism Graduate, University of Sussex

Yesterday I-StudentGlobal met up with recent University of Sussex MA International Journalism alumna Marina Abramian to reflect back on her time studying in the UK.

What were your interests when you were younger? Did you always want to study abroad when you grew up?

From a young age, I wanted to study in the UK. I felt like I was kind of living in a bubble and wanted to see more of the real world outside of it. I’d always had the dream but to be frank the English language teaching at a young age in Crimea was not the best, as there were not very many English-speaking people in the country.

When I was 12 I realised that I had an aptitude for languages and was advised to get a private tutor for English. I took part in some national student language competitions and actually won second place in one when I was around 15. The contests were good because they tested your grammar, essay-writing and oral skills. From then on I knew that I wanted to get my English to the highest level.

Had you travelled much before you started higher education?

I must admit that I was not very well travelled. Before the age of 18 I had only travelled to Armenia, as my family have roots there. When I was 19 I visited Germany and the UK for the first time.

Marina London

Marina taking in the sights of London


How did you find learning English in your home country?

I actually found learning English quite easy because I was not under any time restraints. It was like a purse that I was carrying all the time with me, adding things to it. I enjoyed learning English at school and that is why I chose to study English Language and Literature at university. I wasn’t motivated by money or a job, I just wanted to improve my English and focus on grammar and linguistics. I did more outside of my classes too, by watching English movies and listening to English music to pick up on colloquial English. There are a lot of great free materials online for learning English so there is a lot of support out there for anybody trying to learn.

Why I chose to study in the UK and why I chose Sussex

Why did you decide to study in the UK?

I felt that I had quite a narrow world view and I wanted to expand this. I was looking to study in Spain as I had been learning Spanish too, but when I passed my IELTS with a score of 7.5 I knew that I wanted to come to study in the UK. My father encouraged me by saying that if I got the place to study in the UK then he would sponsor my studies.

And why at University of Sussex?

I knew that I wanted to study journalism/media but I wasn’t sure about exactly which course I wanted to take. I had a long-list of around 15 Universities that was interested in including Royal Holloway, Lancaster University, University of Surrey and University of Sussex. I decided that I didn’t want to live in London so narrowed it down to Surrey or Sussex but chose Sussex because of the course, the reputation of the university internationally with its high ranking and my liking of Brighton as a place. It’s a great city to live in with lots of nice communities to be a part of and also having the benefits of being a resort town.

There are lots of international students from all over the world in Brighton and at Sussex University, so you don’t feel like an outsider at all. In the end I chose to do my MA in International Journalism, but it was quite flexible and allowed me to explore other avenues in my studies without being restricted to a fixed course programme.

Marina Univeristy of Sussex Graduation certificate

Graduation Day - January 2016


How has your work experience supported your studies?

In the Sussex Innovation Centre on the University of Sussex Campus, I met a guy who was just launching his start-up product, a water saving device called Coflo, and I volunteered to help him with his social media, PR and content for his website. The role involved sourcing relevant content for his blog, writing pitches and press releases and attending meetings with potential investors. It was a great experience giving me some real-life practice of my writing skills which I think really helped me in my studies.

Being a Student Ambassador at University of Sussex

Whilst at Sussex you were a Student Ambassador. What did this entail and what did you gain from the experience?

The main part of the role was to represent the school of Journalism, and then eventually the School of Media, Film and Music. This was a way for the university to use the current students to be advocates for the university at open days, allowing prospective students to find out more from the students rather than just the staff. There were 3 open days when I was talking to prospective students and I found it useful for developing my interpersonal skills. I always was honest with the students, so if they were looking to study something that Sussex offered then I could advise and recommend things for them, however if it was not something particularly covered then I could recommend other institutions which might be better suited.

Marina Univeristy of Sussex prospectus

Representing University of Sussex in the prospectus


Finally, what are your plans before you return back to Crimea at the end of the month?

I’m going to go to visit some friends in London for a couple of days. I did a lot of networking during my course and these contacts became friends. I then will return to Brighton to have a nice couple of days with my Brighton friends before flying out at the end of the week. I have two suitcases to take back with me and I haven’t packed one of them yet so I will need to do that as well.

Marina will be writing some articles and blogs for i-studentlobal, detailing her experiences of studying in the UK and offering advice for other students who are looking to study abroad. Links to these will appear below so check back for updates.  


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