Udita Banerjee, 23, an engineering graduate from Manipal University, joined the one-year Taught Master’s programme at University of Edinburgh in September 2012. Before this she worked with STMicroelectronics in Greater Noida for a couple of years. Udita, who enjoys reading fiction, writing poetry, blogging and travelling, shares her experiences as a student in Scotland.
Read Udita's experiences in Scotland below:
When I applied to the UK for an MSc, I’d decided to focus solely on the reputation of the university and my budget. From the options I had, including names like King's College, Leeds, Manchester, and Glasgow, I chose to come to Edinburgh. The prime reason was the course they offered, an MSc in Electronics. Now, most universities in the UK and other places in the world offer really specialized masters programmes. So, a student must choose between analogue and digital, nano and micro, and so on. I wanted to do a course that was fairly generic, so that I had all my industry and further study options open. At the same time, I didn’t want to compromise on the depth of the modules either. The University of Edinburgh’s website information about this course was precisely aimed at students who were thinking on these lines. Of course, stories of Edinburgh being the most beautiful city in the world and the university’s overall very high reputation helped my decision making. After all, while I was accepting my offer of study, Mr Peter Higgs (British theoretical physicist and emeritus professor at the University of Edinburgh ) was taking the world by storm!
Edinburgh really is beautiful! And more so because of the fact that it’s a mini globe here. In my first week, I met students from over 30 different countries. The cross-cultural bonding is immense. The University Students Association had put together a fabulous first week of formal and informal events for international students to meet each other, interact and settle in. Local students had signed up to help initiate us into the city and local customs, the International Office was available round the clock, and members of staff were approachable. There were Scottish dance events, food fests, hikes and trips, whisky and tea-tasting sessions, and what not! It was a brilliant start to what promised to be a great year.
Our academic orientation took place in some of the oldest educational architectures in the world - places that have been around since the 1500s. We were felt welcome as part of the student body and given a taste of how intense coursework would be. And since then, there has been no lack of work. A one year Masters is very intense. Since the style of teaching and learning is very different from what we are used to in India, it takes a while for students to get used to it. There are lectures and assessments, lab work and assignments, and there is a huge focus on individual research. The infrastructure is world-class and the faculty is very dedicated. It is a very inspiring university and the College of Science & Engineering is at the forefront of leading research.
Before one embarks on this path from India, a student must take into account what he/she really wants. It is difficult to do well in any course if one is not truly interested. One of the main challenges, for example, if one is in a self-catered accommodation; there are labs and lectures, cooking and cleaning, groceries and bills! And of course, there’s the odd partying and a bit of travelling. Managing time is key - you don’t want to miss out on any experience. Making time to mingle with the locals and volunteering add that extra bit to your CV and more importantly, to your bucket list!
Budgeting is important as well. We learn to stop converting into our currency! At the same time, if you’re on a budget, then it is good to speak to former students who’ve been in the city and know all the student haunts. Edinburgh has a huge student population and so it wasn’t too difficult for me to align quickly to where I wanted to shop from.
Students should try and form a network of acquaintances; it helps when you’re far away from home to have people to lean on, help out, hang around with and even crib to! The British Council has a lot of students on their network; they have regular events in most universities, and have some really useful pre departure and initial arrival information guides. There are programmes like the 'Host UK’ that the more curious of students should definitely look into.
One year flies by! Before you know it, the semesters have whizzed past and it’s time for the next step. There are a lot of job opportunities for worthy students in the UK. Most companies have highly reputed graduate programmes and applications for these begin about one month into the course! So it is vital to have a sort of plan even before you start your Masters! It helps to research companies, know your interest areas, be proactive and forthright. For diligent students, there are a lot of opportunities, well-paid and rewarding career paths on offer. The UK is one of the leading countries in the world in terms of economic growth and quality of living. And once you get here, you’ll see why. I find it an inspiring journey and so far, the United Kingdom has been good.
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