Anybody Can Go Abroad

The more daring of students can, of course, consider attending a school abroad. Nikola Marková, a graduate of the prestigious Open Gate grammar school and currently a psychology student at a university in Glasgow, Scotland, gives an account of the preparations for and benefits of studying outside the Czech Republic.

How did it occur to you to enrol at a school in the UK?
During my last two years at Open Gate, I was preparing for the International Baccalaureate. IB helps when you want to go to school abroad. I opted for the UK because I wanted to use my knowledge of English in an English-speaking country and, moreover, the local educational system is close to my heart. I also longed for testing my limits and abilities, seeing the world, gaining new experience and in general broadening my horizons.

Is it difficult to be admitted?
It is primarily different from what we have in our country. In the UK, the decision of the university on whether it will grant at least conditional admission to the student depends on multiple factors. It does not only assess the result of examinations, i.e. academic performance, but the entire ‘package’ that every candidate can offer. This is why motivation letters and letters of recommendation are part of the application.

Why Glasgow of all places?
The primary motivation was the quality of teaching. In psychology, the university in Glasgow places high in the charts, and so I also took it as a challenge.

What should people do to attend a school abroad?
The result of the school-leaving examination is important. Universities in other countries require candidates to document their academic results at secondary school. In the UK, universities ask that students bring them some results. It is therefore important to document that you are also good in aspects other than only learning. This concerns things such as volunteering and hobbies. The results of the admission interview and written examination, which many universities require, are also important. And what was the most difficult thing? For me, probably the art of time management – allocating time to learning for the school-leaving examination, to volunteering, and to entertainment. And also generally the entire decision-making process as to what I would do after the school-leaving examination. I think that everybody who dedicates certain effort to this end stands a chance to be admitted to a university in a foreign country. Naturally, a good command of the language is important. The other academic requirements are set by each university separately.

What is studying abroad giving you?
In addition to the opportunity to improve my English, studying abroad definitely offers a much broader range of options to work in the discipline following graduation, in particular when the student wants to go back to the Czech Republic.

What role does the secondary school play in success?
Great. The standard of the secondary school and the inspirational environment and backing that it provides positively affects the student in many respects.

How in fact does a girl from a children’s home, which you were, get to the Open Gate grammar school?
Before Open Gate was formally opened, representatives of the family foundation of Mrs Renáta Kellnerová and Mr Petr Kellner, which had set up the school, called on us at the children’s home to tell us about the project under which gifted children from all social strata are accepted to this boarding school. It occurred to our head teacher on that occasion that I could try my luck in the admission procedure, because I had excellent results at school. In the end, I succeeded and transferred to Open Gate from the elementary school after the fifth year. Naturally, this would not have been possible without the support provided by the foundation. Thanks to it, I am now studying in Glasgow.

Author | Alena Bartošová

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