female student smiling in a yellow jumper stood in a park

Lee-Anne talks about how she got involved with the local community and her proudest moment so far - International Student's Day 2022

3 min read

International Students’ Day is an opportunity to celebrate our awesome international student community. This year we share five stories from our students about their experiences so far.

Lee-Anne, a third-year Media and Digital Practice student from Zimbabwe talks about how she got involved with the local community and her proudest moment so far.

What made you choose Portsmouth?

After my A ‘level’s, I took a gap year to decide what I wanted to do. I had studied science and maths-based subjects but realised I wanted to study film production. It is a long story – but I eventually applied through an agent. Once I focused on the UK, she gave me five options, one of which was Portsmouth. I started to do some research and found out there is a seafront, and I knew Portsmouth was the one. I ended up choosing the Media and Digital Practice course because there was a good balance of practical and theoretical learning involved. It was a whole long journey, but I am very happy. 

What was it like moving away from home?

I’d never been on an international flight before, my parents were like ‘go on child’. I was terrified, I remember being over Dubai and realising I was really far away from home. I arrived in January because I was doing a foundation year at International College Portsmouth. I remember getting to Heathrow and through the windows of the airport I could feel the cold and was like ‘ooooo this is real now’. I had never travelled alone and never lived alone, it was terrifying. But I think moving away from home makes you brave. You have no choice but to be brave. Moving away from home was a way to wake up, you know? So I woke up and that was exciting. 

What made you feel a part of the University Community? 

I started at International College Portsmouth and they had events running for the entire week where we would go and meet other international students and that is how I made my initial friends. I met people from Nigeria, Zambia, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. It was helpful because we had similar experiences of moving away from home. But within two months of being here we went into lockdown. So having met those people first was very helpful. 

I now work for the uni in student ambassador roles. I didn’t feel confident speaking to people before I came to university but now I do campus tours with 40 plus people or speak to parents at an open day. I have received a lot of positive feedback and it makes me smile inside at how far I have come.  

I’ve made so many friends as an international student ambassador – it is so helpful because you all have similar struggles. If we are looking for a way to get a document or food from back home, someone always knows something. It is a small community that helps each other. 

How have you got involved with the local community?

I volunteer at the Number Six Cinema. It is located in the Dockyard and it is really cool. They show independent films and foreign language films. I volunteer there as an usher and sometimes in the box office. Everyone who volunteers is just a film enthusiasts, or they make films. I have had some interesting conversations with people who are older than me, people I would never speak to on the street – but simply go for the love of film. So, it is great for networking. I also go to a local church in Portsmouth and volunteer on their media team. It has also opened me up to talk to people I wouldn’t normally speak to. 

What advice would you give your younger self before going to university?

I would tell my younger self to ask for help. It is OK to ask for help. I mean, I do ask for help now – but if I could back in time, that is what I would say. There are people who want to help you so just take advantage of it. I found out about LinkedIn Learning in my second year. I wish I had the benefits to take advantage of all the free stuff earlier. And put yourself out there, talk to people and be social. People don’t bite. Network and grow. 

What are you most proud of so far?

I am most proud of my growth. I have grown as a person and grown in patience and understanding. I am taking care of myself and being responsible. I get good grades, I wake up on time, and I go to my lectures. It is all those little things that build up to making me who I am. I just sit back and I’m like, five years ago, this would not have been me. But being at uni teaches you literally to build yourself, and shape yourself. And sometimes I stand back and I’m like, wow – I am really shaping myself. Whooo go Lee-Anne. So I am proud of my growth and the growth that is yet to come.