#UoBWomen: Christine's journey as a first-generation student

Hi! I’m Christine, I’m an undergraduate student studying a BA in Politics and International Relations at UoB. 


As an international student and a first-generation woman in my family to embark on the exciting adventure of University life as well as studying abroad, International Women's Day resonates deeply with me. Coming from a background where educational opportunities were often limited for my parents and grandparents due to economic struggles and the lingering effects of the Vietnam War, my journey to higher education and studying abroad has been a remarkable blend of privilege and perseverance.  

This International Women's Day, I’m taking a moment to pause and reflect on my own, unique journey, alongside the shared struggles faced by women worldwide. But more than that, I’m joining in the celebration of not only my own achievements but the collective strides we’re making towards a future where education knows no boundaries, where every woman has the chance to chase her dreams and carve out her own place in the world. Here’s my story...

My journey to UoB 

Growing up, I was told by my parents about the challenges they faced during their childhood, especially my mother. My mother was a dedicated student, but it was difficult for her to continue with higher education due to financial struggles, causing her to leave her studies behind and enter the workforce. Her experience taught me the true value of education, especially in a society where women often get the short end of the stick, and are subjected to unfair standards.  

With their unwavering support, I embarked on an exciting journey to pursue higher education in a new country, determined to show my family and society that I could do it – and I did! 

Christine 2

Studying abroad was a dream I dared to chase, despite the uncertainties and cultural barriers. As a first-generation university student, every step was a leap of faith into the unknown. 

For me, International Women's Day is a powerful reminder of the many struggles faced by women across the world, particularly for women of colour like myself. It’s a day that celebrates the rich experiences of womanism and feminism – in all shapes and sizes. On this day, we honour the fearless trailblazers – like my Mom – who paved the way. We should also uplift the voices of women whose stories often go unheard. As a first-generation student, I have the privilege of carrying the torch of empowerment ignited by the strong, independent women who have been shaped by my journey – from my grandmother, my mother, and beyond. 

What I’ve learnt  

Studying abroad as a Politics student has been an eye-opening journey, especially delving into feminist political ideas that challenge the status quo. In my modules, I’ve been exposed to the works of inspiring women activists, writers, poets, and politicians who have fearlessly championed women’s rights.  International Women's Day serves as a vital platform to honour these trailblazers and reaffirm our commitment to building a fairer society.  

As I reflect on my own path this International Women's Day, I'm reminded of the power of education in transforming lives and dismantling barriers. Anne Julia Cooper, a Black liberation activist and feminist leader, once said in A Voice From the South, “It is not the intelligent woman versus the ignorant woman; nor the white woman versus the black, the brown, and the red – it is not even the cause of woman versus man. Woman’s strongest vindication for speaking is that the world needs to hear her voice". Her words resonate with me deeply. 

They remind us that every woman’s voice deserves to be celebrated, respected, and heard. It’s a simple yet profound truth: every woman should be given the opportunity to learn and grow, and to contribute their ideas. As a first-generation university student, I'm deeply grateful for the doors that have opened for me and for the path that has been paved by those who came before. 

But along with this privilege comes a responsibility. As I celebrate my own journey this International Women’s Day, I’m reminded of the importance of celebrating the achievements of women worldwide, acknowledging the progress made by women and striving for even more accomplishments. Together, let’s work to build a world where every woman, no matter where she comes from or what she’s been through, gets the chance to thrive and pursue higher education.

Join the celebration this International Women’s Month by exploring our line-up of exciting events! Take a browse and get involved in the festivities. 


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