I applied for this course last summer after years of considering a postgraduate degree in publishing. I specifically chose Edinburgh Napier University because I had researched the programme and spoken with previous students about the course. It had been seven years since my undergrad and I was apprehensive about returning to higher education. I had crafted a comfortable life for myself and was hesitant to disturb it. But I was restless and I had always dreamed of living abroad and getting a master’s, so I summoned my courage, quit my job, and boarded a plane.

Pursuing a postgraduate degree is an ambition in itself. But pursuing a postgraduate degree as a mature student and one who’s moved thousands of miles away from home presents its own set of challenges. It’s doable and it’s a heck of a lot of fun, but you’ll run into some roadblocks along the way. If you’re a returning student, international student, or both, here are some tips and advice for how I survived my year on this course…

Find your friends. They’ll be your support. Go for drinks when asked. Get a coffee when asked. Find a society or a club and join it. I’d be lost here if it wasn’t for my friends. They become your family, your home away from home. You’ll be meeting loads of lovely people on this journey and your pals on the course will all be there at the front lines with you. Don’t let yourself feel alone.

Prepare for change. Seems like this should go without saying, but your life is going to change in so many ways when you come here. Explore your new surroundings, enjoy your new experiences, but don’t forget who you are and what makes you tick. Find ways to bridge the gap between your life now and the life you left behind. Do the things that make you feel like you or else you’ll end up feeling lost.

Get ready to be a student again. If you’ve been out of education for a while there’s a chance you’ll struggle with the transition back to full time study. I did. Classes and coursework will consume a great deal of your time but you’ll have to develop a structure or you’ll end up feeling a bit scattered. I wish I had pursued a part time job with a bit more gusto or had applied for earlier placements, as I think it would have helped me keep a better schedule.

Believe them when they say the year goes by fast. Make the absolute most of your time here. Seize the opportunities you can to gain experience while you’re on this course, because before you know it’ll all be over. This city has a lot to offer, so expose yourself to the publishing industry in Edinburgh as much as you can. Heed their advice and network, go to industry events and apply for placements.

This will be a challenging and stimulating year. It won’t always be easy but it will definitely be rewarding. This course prepares you for a career in publishing, but you’ll learn a lot of really practical and transferable skills as well. You might find it hard to adjust to student life, or to be so far away from home, but when you feel down just remember what you came here for. Keep working hard and keep pushing through because in the end it will have all been worth it.