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My Cardiff

Tamsin Carey-Lang

Tamsin Carey-Lang, Head of the International Office recalls her first trip oversees for the University.

Tamsin Carey-Lang

Tamsin Carey-Lang (left) pictured in Beijing

The International Office is the best and most dynamic place to work in the University. Well, that’s my view anyway!

When I started in the International Office in 2001 we were still a part of External Relations, had six staff, two rooms and a lot of work. The staff worked incredibly hard to provide an excellent customer service to international students, to recruit and market the University internationally and to support students. In 2001 we were given Divisional status and not long after we merged with the English Language Service for International Students and the International Development Division (INTER) was born!

Seven years on INTER has almost 50 staff and both our range of services and achievements have increased dramatically while at the same time, the team continue to deliver the same level of service and to innovate. My particular section - the International Office - is responsible for marketing and recruitment, Study Abroad and Erasmus programmes and student support. One of our main activities is recruitment and we have a number of staff travelling regularly throughout the year for British Council exhibitions and private recruitment trips.

My first overseas trip was to China, a country I'd never visited before and I remember flying over Beijing as we landed and not seeing any limits to the city - I'd never seen a city on such a vast scale before. When I arrived at my hotel, it was a quick turnaround before I was to meet one of our most respected Journalism alumni for dinner. This was the first time I'd experienced serious jet lag and I'm not completely sure of the impression I gave but it seemed to go OK and she’s still in touch.

I then went to set up our exhibition stand. I will never ever forget that year’s exhibition - it was so busy that we didn't sit down or take a break for eight hours and our stand almost toppled over at one point from the crowds pushing to get to the front. The Chinese exhibitions aren't quite as busy as this these days, but that year more than 40,000 visitors attended the exhibition over two days and we felt as though we'd met every one of them! After the exhibition I went on to visit our partner universities in Beijing and help set up a lecture series for Professor Patrick Minford, of the Business School, later in the year. I then flew on to Dalian briefly in the North (which was the coldest place I've visited for the University) and then on to Shanghai. The excitement of arriving in a new place is one that will never leave me. The next morning we were back on the exhibition stand in Shanghai for two days and meeting students and agents in the evenings. The trip was a real baptism of fire but was an experience not to be forgotten.

Since that first trip I have made many trips to Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Taiwan, the Philippines, the UAE, Russia, Norway, Thailand, Brunei and China for the University. I have had some incredible experiences and met some great people along the way. I've travelled by every means possible, almost crash landed in Malaysia, delivered a graduation ceremony in Borneo, had numerous dinners at Embassies and official residences, been stuck in a Philippine hotel due to national Security issues, interviewed students in every conceivable public space, waited numerous hours at Schipol Airport, and so on and so on. In this job, you take the rough with the smooth. Some of the academic staff who we regularly travel with are great company and make a real difference to our trips, as well as a great network of people travelling from different Universities who you get meet up with around the world and share experiences with. If you hear an international officer say casually “see you in Bangkok next week”, they're not showing off, that’s just life!

I'm always amazed at how well the University is known internationally and the enthusiasm that alumni, who often help us with our visits, have. A high percentage of our students do have a very positive experience here and that often shows in the way in which they act as ambassadors when they return to their country. Personally, I don't travel as much now but my enthusiasm for promoting the University has never diminished, particularly when telling students about what it has to offer. For me - it's easy - it's a great University and Cardiff is a wonderful city - why would anyone go elsewhere!

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