Priyanka Boghani is used to the spicier, flavourful palate of Indian food, but while studying abroad in London she's learnt to add pepper, ketchup, salt and spice to most dishes. That's just one of the cultural differences Priyanka has encountered as an international student, she tells


Priyanka put a lot of time and effort into researching her graduate school options. After completing her undergraduate degree, she looked at the course outlines and modules on university websites to see if what they offered matched what she wanted to learn. My main criterion was the course description. I also evaluated the universities using rankings. The fact that City University is in the heart of London is a big bonus for someone studying journalism as there's so much activity, she says.

One of Priyanka's favourite activities in the city is walking around the cultural monuments that are dotted all over London. Tradition and history are well preserved here, she says. Of her course, Priyanka says she is enjoying the opportunity to learn about a specialization that she's chosen at an age when she is more willing and focused. I like how my course has allowed me to learn about London as a city and I like meeting new people and fellow journalists. The most challenging aspect of university life may just be adjusting to a different lifestyle, away from home.

Upon completion of her Masters degree later this year, Priyanka hopes to land a job as a journalist in London, however if this doesn't happen, she says she will probably go back to Hong Kong and look there. I hope to work for a development organization where I can learn how to report on humanitarian issues while simultaneously learning about them. In three to five years I hope to have developed some sort of specialized knowledge on a certain topic that I'd like to write about, possibly somewhere in Asia.

Financing an international graduate degree is a big commitment and Priyanka is jointly covering the cost of her education with her parents. Food takes up about 60% of her monthly budget, transport a further 20%, and going out an additional 20%. Her rent is pre-paid. I am staying in student halls, which are affiliated with the university so they arranged my accommodation for me, Priyanka says. I definitely advise students to stay in halls if they don't know anyone in London as it's a great way to make friends and live in a safe environment. I live in a small en suite room, however the halls were recently furbished so everything is new and clean. We have communal kitchens which is, again, a great way to interact with people on your floor.

In ten years time, Priyanka hopes to be happily working for an online or magazine publication writing about human rights issues of some sort. Topics on human rights issues like freedom of expression, especially in countries such as China and Vietnam, are of great interest. I also like writing about the blend of cultural and social trends in large cosmopolitan cities like London and Hong Kong, she says. But for now, Priyanka is one of thousands of international students who choose to study abroad for their graduate degree each year, gaining an education both inside and outside of the classroom.
A big example of cultural difference would be the drinking culture here [in the UK], she says. It seems to be at the core of many social activities and that is different to the Asian/Oriental mentality where family plays a bigger social role. Food is also different. I'm Indian and my taste buds are used to a slightly spicier and flavourful palate. When it came to hall-catered food here, adding pepper, ketchup, salt and spice to most dishes was the more feasible option.

Priyanka also enjoys taking time out from the classroom and further exploring the city of London, perhaps adding research to future feature articles. I enjoy listening to the buskers playing at various tube stations. They add that artsy urban feel to the City and I enjoy strolling through Camden market and Borough market as well as exploring new areas, she says. I like finding boutique cafes as they possess a charm of their own as well as contemporary art exhibitions.