By Suthida Chang
I am fortunate to be a full scholarship holder for MA International Relations and International Business at the University of Nottingham Ningbo, China (UNNC). Being a picky learner, I was looking for a crosscultural experience with British education standards and a curriculum that catered to my multidisciplinary academic interests; UNNC ticked all of those boxes.
Like many students around the world, my postgraduate program was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Classes and examinations were moved online but coordinating between different student and lecturer timezones was a major challenge. Now that I’m approaching the end of my degree, it is time to look back over my one-year journey and reflect on the lessons I’ve learned, especially the ones outside of class. After all, I wasn’t here just to study, but to be educated.
Learning how and when to communicate is my greatest takeaway. Although an introvert, I have grown confident in using my voice to defend my rights and that of others. Whenever there is doubt, take the initiative to speak up and let your concerns be heard. Often, your concerns will echo that of your classmates, and together, students have a stronger voice in negotiating for clarifications or changes that will benefit the larger student body.
I’ve also realized the importance of building a community of friends or people who you can confide in. Postgraduate studies are stressful and it’s perfectly normal to feel lonely when dealing with a heavy workload. Having study buddies and someone to complain to can take away a lot of that worry and doubt. Also, giving a friend a pat on the back or just a simple “Hi, how are you doing?” message sure can put a smile on someone’s face.
Finally, seek opportunities to engage with university clubs and societies, events as well as conferences. With a small postgraduate population at UNNC, I’ve realized that it is even more important to be actively involved in the on-campus social life. I always enjoyed my exchanges with undergraduate students, who may look up to you for advice or teach you about the latest popular culture trends — generation gap is just a construct.
With this much diversity at UNNC, there is never a dull moment. My best memories of UNNC were made while volunteering, interning, taking part in cultural activities, and going on field trips to different parts of Ningbo. Education for me isn’t confined within four walls; I learn best when I participate in the world and find my purpose in empowering those around me.
We’re often told to start with the end in mind — it’s cliché but very true. Start by reflecting on your academic journey to map out your interests and strengths. You may find yourself intellectually engaged with a range of disciplines or with your interests concentrated in one area, and both are fine! Discovering where your passion lies is the most important factor in applying for a postgraduate degree. Also, it’s okay to feel lost — the world is a big place.
Finding a scholarship isn’t easy and receiving one doesn’t mean ‘mission accomplished’. Your journey is only about to start. There is so much more await you at your new university. A master degree is also quite short so make the most out of your time. Enjoy your readings, your lectures, your seminars, your events, and your friends. Celebrate, frown, laugh, cry, be scared, and smile again! At the end of the day, savor this personal journey in nurturing a better you and learn to appreciate the little things in life — that is the purpose of education.
This article written by Suthida Chang from Thailand was submitted as a part of APYouthS’ Article Submission program. We are calling for enthusiastic and impassioned youths in Asia-Pacific who are willing to share their firsthand experience regarding youths projects and activities, volunteering involvement, conferences, exchange, and scholarship program in the APYouthS’ website. Submit your article now through https://bit.ly/submit-writing-apyouths.