Blog post

How I got to study my favourite subject at the university I fell in love with

By Veronika Geier - 24 February 2022

I am a Forensic Psychology student in my first year and I am from Austria. I am also a mature student, this will be my second degree. Back at home, I worked as a radiographer. I have work experience in different hospitals and different departments. I even worked as a trainer and lecturer for Siemens, setting up and explaining a range of x-ray machinery.

But, after almost 13 years working with and caring for patients, I felt it was time for a change. In the back of my mind, I always had the idea of studying Forensic Psychology abroad.

New life?

When I was still in school and it was time for me to decide on a course or a career, Forensic Psychology was not available to study in my country. Even back then I thought about coming to the UK. But, honestly, the thought of leaving my home country and leaving behind everything I know to start a new chapter in a different country, in a different culture, in a different language seemed really scary! So I settled for the easier option to stay home and study radiography in my hometown of Salzburg.

Years later, the Covid-19 pandemic hit and, like so many people, I took that time to ask myself if I’m actually happy with myself and how I want to live my life. I took a step back to re-examine my life choices and came to the decision to be courageous and adventurous and change my life! And my interest in Forensic Psychology finally came back into the spotlight.

New university

I started to browse university home pages in the UK. I set up my UCAS account and started to apply to a couple of universities. This was at the beginning of July, so I could only hope for a place through clearing. And suddenly I got a phone call from the University of Derby that I am officially on their waiting list!

I was so excited! I looked at the homepage again, did virtual tours of the campus and fell in love with the modern facilities, the lovely redbrick buildings, and the exciting, bustling feel of the main atrium. Then I looked up the course specifics, and I even got in contact with the British Psychological Society, which assured me that Derby was one of the best places in the UK to study Forensic Psychology.

I got more and more excited with everything I read about the university and the course, I really hoped to get in! And in the middle of August, my dream came true! I was accepted into a university in the UK, I get to study my favourite subject AND it was the university I fell in love with!

The next two months went by in a rush: cleaning out my flat, packing up my life, applying for a visa and student housing, and saying goodbye to friends and family. What an emotional time!

I can’t describe my feelings on the first day I came to the campus. I almost cried, I was so excited. I was incredibly happy, but also scared and nervous. There was a welcome picnic organised by my college where I got to meet some of the lecturers and other students. This made me feel less nervous and was a great way to start my student life.

Meeting the lecturers

Getting to know my lecturers surprised me a lot because I didn’t expect them to be this friendly, open, and welcoming. It is really easy to get in touch with them, they are always ready to listen to you and your problems and they wholeheartedly care about your success as a student. I am deeply impressed by their effort to get to know each student. My cohort has almost 100 students, but still every lecturer tried to learn my name and I feel seen and appreciated as an individual.

Especially being an international student, I sometimes struggle to get used to a different culture, a different approach to teaching, studying in a foreign language and finding my way in a different country. But all the university staff, from the bus drivers to the kitchen ladies, from our welcome heroes to the student housing team, everybody is friendly, accommodating, helpful and welcoming, so it's very easy for international students to start to feel at home.

Facilities and opportunities

During the first semester, the lecturers help you and encourage you to get to know all the facilities on campus. Starting with a library tour (I went on a scavenger hunt all over the library!), hearing about different skill-building workshops, getting invitations to job fairs, and by taking part in a free English course especially aimed at international students I learned a lot about all the opportunities that will support me during my studies and all the offers that will help me grow outside of my course.

The University has its own online learning tool called Blackboard. I can access all the lecture and seminar presentations and documents on there. There are discussion boards to communicate with other students, reading lists contain additional information and the best part is that all lectures get recorded. So, if I ever miss a part or I am not sure about what my lecturer said about a certain topic, I can always go back and listen again. That way all the papers, presentations, documents, everything I need to study is just a mouse click away.

Go team! Go friends!

A big part of university life in the UK are the sports teams and the societies. They are a great way to get to know other students, try out new activities and stay active and healthy. Especially all the different give-it-a-go sessions made it really easy for me to engage and try out what suits my interests best.

I am a member of the walking society, which is a great way to get to know the city and the surrounding area. Walking in nature, talking to other like-minded people and visiting places like Elvaston Castle and Kedleston Hall helped me to settle into life in Derby apart from the university. I also joined the University squash team just for fun and to get some exercise. I never played before and the trainer and other students encouraged me and cheered me on, so it was fun and easy for me to learn this new sport. And I even got a certificate for the 'most improved female of the club' at the end of the semester.

Engaging with societies and sports teams played a big part in my feeling settled down in Derby, so I can only recommend to every student and every international to try to get out of their comfort zones and maybe they will find a new favourite activity with loads of new friends!

Thanks to all those opportunities to make friends and all the amazing staff I really start to feel at home at Derby. All the support and encouragement directed at international students showed me that the University of Derby really cares for its students and wants me to make the best of me and my studies. 

About the author

Veronika standing smiling in front of Elvaston Castle.

Veronika Geier

I am an international student from Austria, and I came here to study Forensic Psychology. It has been my dream job since I was a teenager, and after working for over a decade as a radiographer I finally have the courage to pursue it now. It’s my first time living in the UK and I love trying out different foods, tasting beers in various pubs and exploring the region through walking.