Hi, my name is Nitipon Piwmow and I'm doing a Master of Law in International Trade Law and I come from Thailand.
I decided to study in the UK because I want to be a judge in Thailand and they have many ways of getting into being a judge and one of them is to get two Masters degrees abroad and I think the UK is good for study because the UK has a high level of education.
I found Sussex has everything on campus; we have a library, we have university accommodation and we have bars and going from the university to town is not too long, I spend only 28 minutes by bus to the town and the town is really nice, it’s not too busy, not too big and not too small, I can find everything - the cinema, the shops, everything in the city.
In Thailand some students, I mean good students, they prepare before they go into the lecture (I'm not one of them!) Most of the students just go to class and then we have the lecture and we just take notes. After the lecture we go back home and we read about what we have studied and we just try to understand, after we have finished the lecture. If I don’t understand I ask my friend or maybe go back to school and ask some professor but here in the UK it’s totally different, it’s really hard for me. I have to prepare everything before I go into the seminar class because in the seminar class the professor doesn’t give you an idea, they just give you guidelines about a topic and then we have to speak about what we have learnt in our article reading or some books which we have prepared before we go to the class and then we just discuss our article and our subject in the class. It’s totally different, if you’re not prepared you can’t speak anything, you just sit there.
If you’re a new student, like me in the last term, I can remember when I first went into a seminar class, I’m just sitting, I couldn’t speak anything because I didn’t know what is taught in the seminar class. I heard from my friends, they told me you have to prepare everything, you have to read before you go to the class but I don’t know why I have to read before I go to the class because I feel familiar with my Thai style where we just go to the class and sit and listen. So in the first term in the seminar class it was very bad for me but I just told myself, “Don’t give up!” After that I went back home, start reading early, maybe two or three days before I go to the class, and then I can speak just something, not much, but it’s better.
The point of a seminar class, actually I was confused for a long time about a seminar class but after I finished term one, I was just thinking again about a seminar class and I found that in seminar classes they give you an opportunity to speak in a public place - actually it’s not a public place, but with your friends in the class and share your ideas and what you think about this article or this theory, is it good for adapting for our future career? It is a good opportunity to speak and it makes me have confidence to speak and share opinions.
I did the Pre-sessional course before I’m doing Master of Law and in the Pre-sessional course they taught me about how to write essays in the British style and they taught me how to find the online resources about how to do my essay, to give me some advice about how to combine the resources online and some books because in the UK style we have to get a variety of resources and they taught me about a seminar class and how to do a presentation.
My first essay was very confused because first of all we had to create about a topic, we have to understand very clearly about a topic and then I had to find some resources to support my idea and sometimes I don’t understand about the article, I have to work very hard, maybe twice as hard as a home student, because sometimes I read the Thai article to get some idea and then I’m going to start on the English article again. After I get some idea I just draft the outline and then try to put some articles to support my idea.
In my class sometimes I have to work as a group and I found that it is very useful because now I am doing International Law and we have to know about international cases and it is very good for me and very useful because in my class we have a lot of students from around the world, for example we have some Thai students, we have some Iranian, we have some from Saudi Arabia and UK students. We can share ideas because in different countries we have different cultures, we have different laws, we can share ideas. Some cases are different, some Islamic countries they have a special Islamic Law and I don’t know about the principles of Islamic Law and I just ask them and then they can explain to me and I can apply it to my case or when we are working as a group we can give our experiences to another student.
I came from Thailand and in Thailand we don’t speak English, so my problem was I had no confidence to speak English. I remember the first time when I was in London, when I went to a restaurant I couldn’t even order the food because I had no confidence to speak English, so I just pointed to the picture – “I want this and I want this” - I found that if you start smiling your face looks like you are happy and then they are willing to speak with me and then I just start talking.