I came to Coventry and saw the world!
Zuzanna Mleczak is a Business Administration student who rarely stands still and fills all her spare time keeping busy – in fact, she is a shining example of a student who is making the most of her time at Uni by packing in as much as she can!
She is in her 4th year of her BA degree (she spent a year on a work placement) and is dreading the thought of leaving Coventry as she has loved every minute of her time here.
Originally from Poland, Zuza has been educated both in Poland and the US (Ohio) and worked in a call centre in Poland before deciding to come to study in Coventry.
“My experience of working in a call centre was interesting as it gave me some valuable work experience and a majority of the calls I was taking at the time, were from the UK and it was great to talk to people.”
While she was in Warsaw, Zuza went to a presentation about studying abroad and Coventry University was one of the institutions that were in attendance:
“I wanted to get a degree and wanted the experience of doing it somewhere other than Poland and as I had already had a taste of studying in the US, I knew I could cope!”
Zuza liked what she heard about Coventry and applied to come in the November and by January, she was here!
“I was amazed with how quickly my application was processed and even more amazed that two months after applying I had secured a student loan (which was available to EU students) and was all set to start a new academic journey”.
Speaking of journeys, Zuza’s parents drove her all the way from Poland to Coventry, a road trip that took a few days!
“When I got to Coventry, I was staying in Singer Hall and it truly felt like the United Nations – it was brilliant. There were students from all over the world staying there and even on my course, only two of the students were from the UK. It felt that I was studying in an international city and meeting so many people from different cultures was amazing.”
It didn’t take Zuza long to get into Uni life and she applied for a student ambassador role and she also became an ‘inclusion officer’ and made sure that she was there for students who needed help with disability access, or listened to them if they had specific concerns:
“It felt so good to feel useful to my fellow students. I wanted to be able to use my skills to help others, and being an inclusion officer gave me that opportunity.”
By becoming a student ambassador, Zuza used her verbal skills to assist on open days, which she really enjoyed. When she applied for the position, she thought it was a volunteer role, but was delighted when she found out that it was actually a paid position:
“Yes, that was a bonus to find out that I was being paid for doing something that I really enjoyed.”
When Zuza was in the US, she learned the art of ‘small talk’ – this is something that doesn’t come naturally to people from Poland:
“It’s really not something that we’re used to as it is not part of our culture and I think that sometimes that is why we are perceived as being non-communicative but it’s is not something that comes naturally to us, but I’m learning!”
Zuza was in her element talking to prospective students and their parents during the Open Days and could tell them first-hand about being a student in Coventry.
Before too long, she had taken on a few more roles and started working for several different departments: on the SU reception desk, admin officer at Futurelets, assisting with the MEQ’s, picking up students from the airport and accompanying them back to Coventry, in fact, no week in her busy schedule was the same!
Zuza’s third year was spent on placement and she was working for a large organisation called ‘Eaton’ in Nottingham, which is a large power management company. It was while she was there, she realised something which would hopefully shape her future career; she wanted to eventually work for a smaller organisation that helped others and not a big corporation:
“Although I found the year useful and gained a lot of skills, I really felt that my future was either working for the civil service, higher education admin or in a not-for-profit organisation. Our careers team have been amazing and I have been to a lot of graduate placement sessions and access events. In fact, the employability people have done so much for me. I wouldn’t have got my placement year if it wasn’t for them.”
As well as making the most of the part-time jobs at the Uni and the workshops, events and graduate employment sessions run by the careers team, Zuza has been around the globe, thanks to the opportunities that are open to all students in Coventry:
“My passport has certainly taken a hammering, thanks to Cov Uni! In my first year, I went to Lisbon and got a grant to do so. I have also been to Turkey, South Korea and Belgium and in a few weeks, I’m heading off to China – all because of the opportunities available at the Uni. I don’t think other universities do as much to make sure their students get the chance to visit other countries and at such reasonable prices!”
Zuza is adamant that she made the right choice to come and study in Coventry as she feels that she has learned so much outside her academic studies and has become a more confident person:
“I can’t imagine life outside Coventry University because I have packed so much in during my time here. I wanted to be involved in as many things as I could because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I wanted to get out of as much as I could and trust me, my Coventry friends and colleagues are like family.”
As if she isn’t busy enough, Zuza has been involved in the One World Society, the Enactus Society, Study Buddies, the Global Leaders’ Programme, Linguae Mundi (she studied Portuguese in her second year) and is training to be a Polish tutor as well!
She is also a senior course rep and a student rep and has even helped with timetable changes for her fellow students when they asked her to intervene on their behalf.
Zuza is also an active member of the Student Volunteering Team and gets involved in all kinds of activities with them.
When she’s not working, volunteering or ‘repping’, she spends a great deal of her time in the library, which is a godsend for her as it is open 24 hours a day and so she can go there when she needs time to study at a time that suits her.
“I absolutely love University life, especially in Coventry and it is so true that I came to Coventry and saw the world. If I could find an admin job at the Uni when I graduate, then that would truly be the icing on the cake!
“My advice to anyone coming to study in Coventry is to make the most of your free time. You get to meet new people, gain new skills, travel the world, help others and you learn to stand on your own two feet and find you can cope with any situation both personally and professionally. If I could do my four years all over again, I would do.
“Thank you Coventry, you’ll be forever in my heart!”