Ivan Symkanych

My name is Ivan and I’m 24 years old. I’m a student at Royal Holloway through the University of London’s International Programme. Currently I’m doing my Master’s degree – an MSc in International Management. Previously I studied for my Bachelor’s degree, a BSc in Economics and Management, with the London School of Economics (LSE). I live and study in Thessaloniki in Greece.

Why I chose to study with the University of London International Programme

I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I finished high school except that I wanted to study economics and management. I started to research somewhere abroad that was prestigious and had a good reputation. I heard about the LSE online and then I contacted the staff there via email. They told me there was an organisation in Thessaloniki that could support my application. I was glad to hear that I could study the same degree here, exactly as if I was an internal student in London.

How I applied to study with the University of London

I had to do a test to check the level of my English and maths, and to check that I could cope with the LSE level of study. The test went well and I started at the LSE in September 2006.

Since then I’ve spent four years studying for my Bachelor’s and two years on my Master’s.

How I balance my studies with my other commitments

I’m doing my Master’s part-time so that I can work as well. I work at a bank. I’m writing my dissertation at the moment. It is difficult to manage the balance between study and work.

I study for around four or five hours per day, so that is 30 to 35 hours per week. That’s the minimum. But often I have to study much longer hours, sometimes overnight. But I really love to study. I’m working really hard to achieve my ambitions.

Why I choose to study in Greece

The Master’s course is less expensive here as an international student. It’s around £15,000 to do the same course in London. Here we pay around €11,000. And it would be very expensive for me to live in London. It’s an expensive city to live in. I don’t think my family could afford to pay for these expenses. So I do the same course here and I think I made the right decision. I have my family close by, I have accommodation and I don’t have to pay London prices.

My experience of taking exams with the British Council

The staff are excellent. After six years of taking exams with the British Council, I now have a personal relationship with them. They have been here the whole time.

At the exams, the supervisors were really helpful. They can explain everything to you. If you have a problem they solve it, no delays. Everything is there – the people, the papers, all ready to go.

I use the British Council for translations too. I get some of my university work translated into Greek so I can use it in Greece as well.

What the future holds for me

It’s a difficult question for people in Greece. Six years ago I had dreams and ambitions. I thought it would be simple with such good degrees; it would give me the push to get the job I want to do. But things have really changed in Greece in that time. So I’m looking abroad and I’m researching the situation. I am trying to find an internship in the UK, Germany, Austria or Switzerland. My ambition is to work in the aviation industry. I love airplanes. I would love to be working with airlines or airports.