Globe, Multiculture, Profiles, United Kingdom

Aída Valdes Fernandez… An experience abroad

Although having spent most of her life living and working in Mexico, she does not seem to have any problem in adjusting British culture and lifestyle. Her only concern, however, is the education system.


inglaterra luna 2 londres pixabayYi ZOU


Being able to speak Spanish, English and French fluently, she has a strong desire to connect with as many people in this world as possible. With little travel experience in Europe, this is her first time exploring the UK.

Now 29-years-old, and completing her Master’s degree at the London School of Economics (LSE), Aída described her experience as “wonderful”. She has already decided to work here after graduation and is very much looking forward to finding a job by September this year.

Interestingly, as a Master student in one of the top universities in the world, she explained to The Prisma that the teaching style here is the only “shock” for her. She finds the lectures unreasonably long and the class sizes too large, and was expecting a better teaching system in the UK.

Why did you learn French?

Actually, I learnt French later in life when I was 18. When I was in Mexico, in my house, we have a carpenter. He is a very interesting man. He actually crossed the wall and went to the United States, illegally.

Hnicaragua pixabaye worked in the fields. He knew what hunger was like, what suffering was like, but also what hope was like.

I remember sitting down with him and talking for long hours, and thinking that even though those people came from a completely different world from mine, I can connect with them because I speak Spanish. I only speak English and Spanish, and that is not enough! There are people all over the world that I will not be able to connect with and that is why I decided to learn a third language.

Did you work before coming here?

I worked for almost 6 years in Mexico for Proctor & Gamble as a brand manager.

Did you need English for that?

Yes, it is an American company, so even though I spoke Spanish to my peers, all my emails, all communication was in English.

But why is your spokenEnglish so good?

Because of my father’s job, my entire family moved to Florida, and I was there from age 10 to 15. That is why I have such an American accent, but I keep telling people I am not American, they are trying to build a wall to keep people like me out.

Have you thought about how life is going to be here?

Not really, I didn’t feel sad. I knew I was going to live without my family, I chose to live in a student accommodation even though I could pay for a flat because I wanted the student experience. I think I’m so lucky to live with people from different nationalities and become friends with them. It is such a privilege to hear theirstories and to know about their life.

ciudad mujer bwlo pixabayHow has your experience been in the UK generally?

My experience has been wonderful. People are so open, so kind; London is such a wonderful city where you can easily get around on the Underground and by walking. It is loaded with history. It is amazingthat you can walk past a pub that is 500. It has got colour, museums and music. The restaurants are fantastic, there is so much variety. I have nothing to complain about.

I heard some students complain about racism. What about you?

I experienced none at all. I don’t know if it helps that I don’t have much of an accent; if it helps that I am white, but I have had a wonderful experience. People here have been lovely.

Have you considered working here?

Definitely. In mid-April, I should probably start and get a job by September, fingers crossed, because I want to stay. This place is great.

What do you think of Theresa May’s attitude towards foreigners?

Obviously as a student, this is not something I like, but I understand. When you make a choice to study in a foreign country, the country has its rules. You can abide by them or else not come. On the other hand, bringing your international background and a variety of prospective will always foster a better and more holistic analysis of the situation.

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I think it is unfortunate that by doing this, they probably will not be able to profit much from that variety and international background, but I really believe that those are the rules, it is not racism; they are just rules.

Have you experienced any cultural difference?

I haven’t had any cultural shocks in terms of my living experience here. I find cultural shocks in terms of the teaching style here. In the Mexican-American teaching style, classrooms are very small, you have a class with 20 people and there is always participation. Whereas in lectures here you can have a hundred people, the lecturers do not want you to participate; they want you to shut up and absorb information for 2 hours. That has been kind of a cultural shock for me. The teaching style, I don’t like it.

Luckily, this is the only thing you are not happy about.

Yeah, that is the only one. This is an amazing country.

(Photos: Pixabay)

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