Manas Goyal talks about his choice to study in London, his experience of living abroad and his favourite activities in his free time.
First of all, congratulations on winning the British Council IELTS Award, Manas!
Can you tell us something about yourself and your background?
I grew up in the heart of Berlin, to be precise in Mitte, which basically translates to “the middle of Berlin”, where my family still lives. I was a student at the John F. Kennedy School, a German-American school, about twenty kilometres and a forty minute S-Bahn ride from home, in the old American district of Zehlendorf. Having visited an international school from a young age, I knew I would want to attend a university that sets internationality as a key criterion.
Adding to that, I love to travel. I have had the opportunity to travel to more than sixty countries. I reckoned that if travelling allowed me to increase my horizon within a short span of time, then a Bachelor’s degree in another country would allow me to gain a lot more on a theoretical, as well as practical level. The program I chose was Economics and Geography at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). I had had the opportunity to visit London several times before deciding to finalize my new home for the next three years. Immediately, I fell in love with the amazing city with so much to see and do – from museums to markets, parks to pubs.
At LSE, all classes are in English and the students have the option to choose from over 200 societies. The social life is far better than actually expected, even during the current pandemic times. I am very happy to have chosen my degree. After arriving, my atmosphere felt like home within a couple of days.
What are your study plans for the upcoming year?
I am currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Geography at the London School of Economics and Political Science. For this, I will live in the heart of London for the next three years. I live steps away from the Thames and a short five-minutes from St. Paul’s Cathedral. My first year will comprise of about 75% Economics and Maths, and 25% Human Geography. As I am mainly interested in Human Geography, LSE’s unique course of offering Human Geography as part of the Geography modules is exclusive to LSE only. I really appreciate that in the final year of the three-year program, I have the possibility of undertaking an independent research project. For my “fünfte Prüfungskomponente”, the oral presentation examination required as part of the German Abitur, I completed an independent research project on the topic of economic and geographic requirements for a central-bank backed digital currency to be introduced in newly-industrialised countries. I am sure I will learn many important skills during the course of three years. During the next coming weeks, I will find out more how the next year will be organised.
Why did you decide to study abroad?
I grew up and lived in Berlin for 19 years and was capable to be a part of an international city. I wanted to study in an English speaking country and decided that the globalised city of London, especially due to its internationality, would be a perfect fit. Adding to that, as I travelled to more than 60 countries, I figured for myself that Berlin is not a city I see myself pursuing my Bachelor’s degree. The United Kingdom with a long history in academic excellence seemed like the logical option for me
Why did you choose London as your study destination?
I love big cities and London, being the biggest city in Western-Europe as well as the financial capital of the world did not make it hard for me to decide to study in London. Furthermore, London is a centre of excellence for education. There’s a stunning amount of local businesses, big banks, support networks, and libraries. Students in London are automatically given the opportunity to meet a wide range of professionals, both at LSE and in their chosen fields. Adding to that, a university like LSE does not exist anywhere else in the world. The character of LSE is inseparable from its location. The London School of Economics and Political Science is situated in the heart of London, possibly the most cosmopolitan city in the world and a short distance to Europe’s financial, legal and cultural centres. The LSE offers a unique opportunity to combine social science and quantitative modules, making its students become well-rounded professionals especially required for the third-sector. The combination of a world-class institution like LSE being situated in the city of London made the decision to feel like a no-brainer to me.
What impact do you want to make after finishing your degree?
I want to make affordable housing be available to everyone. Anyone that wants to live in cities should be able to do so. Anyone!
How were your first days in London?
Settling into a new home is never easy for the very first day. Already after one day, my room felt like home and the international environment allowed me to settle in quickly. My neighbours for the next coming years are from 150 different countries. You’ll only find such an international student body in London. London is a very busy city, even during the times of Covid-19. Main events of the Fresher’s Week have been cancelled and are taking place online.
How did Covid-19 change your study experience?
The first week, lectures will be held online. The university is keen on starting the second week in person; however, seeing the amount of Covid-19 cases evolve in the last few days, I would think they will close very soon once again. Fresher’s Week has been cancelled and a majority of exercises are being held online only. Exams for the Michaelmas term will be entirely online as well. I look forward to the next coming weeks and hope the cases decrease soon. The current state of the city of London feels surreal.
Based on your experience so far, what would you tell young people who are thinking about studying abroad?
Go for it! You can only be a student once. Expand your horizon and get out of your comfort zone.
How did you hear about the IELTS Award?
Actually, a friend of mine applied last year. She told me about the British Council IELTS Award Germany and said I should go for it, as I have plans for affordable housing being made available to everyone.
How did you learn about IELTS? Why did you choose this test and what was your experience with the test?
My university required an English examination and I knew the IELTS test from friends who took it previously. I specifically chose the IELTS test, because of its worldwide acceptance. Adding to that, as the British Council, a widely-renowned institution, is a co-owner of IELTS, I felt safe to take the test, due to its long-lasting experience in delivering high-quality exams. My experiences were great. I was able to complete the Reading, Writing and Listening sections on a computer and the Speaking part took place face-to-face in Berlin.
Would you recommend the IELTS test for students who are aiming to study abroad?
The IELTS test measures all necessary skills required to study abroad. I would definitely recommend the IELTS test!
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love to travel. I have been to more than sixty countries and in my free time, I am generally in another country, even if it is for just a week. Other than that, I love exploring new cuisines and books. In Singapore, I ate Durian, a fruit which smells horrible but tastes really good. If I am not travelling, I am either reading a book or exploring the surroundings of my hometown Berlin.
Thank you Manas for the interview. We wish you every success in your studies in London! We are looking forward to hearing more about your experience in the coming months.