My experience as an international student in the UK

Time flies! A year ago I was packing up my stuff and having farewell parties with friends and family because I was going to be away for a year… and now I will be back home in less than a month! What an adventure this year has been! I’m so sad this journey is coming to an end but I’m glad I had the determination to get out of my comfort zone and leave my country. I am more mature now and I value my family more than ever.

Writing in a foreign language

One of the toughest things that I had to deal with while studying in the UK was not the weather or the different kind of food, but the language barrier. Although I’ve been studying English for nearly 20 years (I began to learn it when I was in elementary school) writing scripts in this language was certainly a challenge. For example, writing dialogues is one of the hardest parts, as you don’t know all the colloquial expressions and the slang that native speakers use in their everyday life. Because of this, you can’t say everything you want to say in the exact way you want to say it.

This happened to me while I was writing the full-length script for my major project. The writing process was intense but enjoyable, and it took me the whole year to clarify what I wanted to tell. At first, my story was supposed to be a musical about a woman who suffered from the Cinderella Complex. Then, it turned to a TV series about a 40-something ill woman who gets pregnant just right after divorcing her husband and then, a few weeks before turning in the final treatment, I changed it to the story I’m currently developing.

Regarding the character creation, I identified with my alter ego Stella because she’s as selfish, ambitious, perfectionist and self-centered as I am. Every time I had to find her journey (what she wanted, her inner goal and conscious goal) I felt I was doing self-therapy on myself. It was an interesting introspection exercise that made think about the way I see love and relationships.

Meeting people

Being away and living in another country was very useful for writing because I could visit new places for inspiration (like Cathays Cemetery), as well as people with interesting life stories. For instance, I met a lawyer from Oxford University who decided to pursue a career in filmmaking at the age of 45; a Peruvian single mother that rents flats to students to make a living; a waiter whose dream is becoming a professional rugby player; a music composition student that works in a Waitrose store and as an extra in soap operas to pay his student loans; an aboriginal Australian teenager that came to Cardiff for 18 months as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; a homeless guy from Swansea that once dreamed of being a professional actor; a Portuguese Tesco bodyguard that used to be a cook in his early years… and many more. This is something that you only find in a cosmopolitan city like Cardiff.

Captura de pantalla 2016-08-28 a las 21.49.09

Also, working in an independent production company (It’s My Shout) and in random things that I had never done before (till cashier, extra, bar staff, nightclub photographer), as well as visiting places that I thought I would never have the chance to visit (like Stonehenge and London), and sharing a flat with people from different cultures, religions and backgrounds have certainly enriched my experience and allowed me to learn other ways of thinking, beliefs, different ways to see life, and what’s more important: make friends from different parts of the world!

So… what’s next?

I’m aware finding a job as a screenwriter is quite hard but I’ll stay positive. I do think everyone makes their own luck, so I will send some of my scripts to competitions and I’m thinking of becoming a teacher, as well. Whatever happens, I’m looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life when I get back home. Like they say, “the best is yet to come”.

Diolch Caerdydd for an amazing year.

(This post was also published in the web site of the university: http://international.southwales.ac.uk/profile/alma-ramirez-ma-scriptwriting-mexico-city/en/ )

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2 thoughts on “My experience as an international student in the UK

  1. Christina Bevan

    Oh I can relate to the challenge of writing in another language. Writing in French and Spanish was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. You’ve done an incredible job writing in English for Flat 666. And if we hadn’t already known that your first language was Spanish, we wouldn’t have even thought to question it. Well done. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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