Discover how Samantha’s confidence-building university experience supported her personal and professional goals.
Before uni, I lived halfway across the world in Zimbabwe. I had already decided to study International Relations when I was in sixth form and the next question was ‘where’? I liked the modules that were offered on the course at Portsmouth, and I also liked that I could do a year abroad (unfortunately COVID had other plans).
Going to university abroad has always been a dream of mine, given the nature of my course, but the main thing that has always made me anxious is the visa process. It’s something that as an international student can really be a point of stress for some because you always wonder “will it come in time?” or “I really hope I get it”. It’s great that UoP has a dedicated team who can give plenty of advice and information, it certainly helps with the nerves!
Arriving in Portsmouth and making friends
When I got to Portsmouth the first and most overwhelming feeling I had was gratitude. I know that education should be a right for all, but unfortunately in our world this is not always the case.
I know to be an international student is a great privilege, and one that I have been so grateful for every single day.
It was easy to feel settled when I arrived because the city is so easy to navigate on foot, and most people I have met have been kind and patient. The University certainly has made me feel welcome as well. I met people firstly through my shared flatmates, and then in my classes and my part time jobs. As far as getting to grips with my studies, I was very determined from the beginning to make the most of my time in University, so I kind of just went in head first.
My amazing experiences
The most eye-opening and inspiring project I worked on while at uni was my dissertation. I travelled to the National Archives in London, discovering and researching many different authors from a wide variety of Southern African countries.
Another highlight was when some friends and I represented the university in a 24-hour livestream debate with universities from around the world, discussing and debating the 2020 US Presidential Election.
I was also lucky enough to be a delegate at Harvard’s National Model United Nations Conference with hundreds of other university students from around the world. In short - my undergrad experience was amazing.
I joined the Gospel Choir society, which I really enjoyed as it gave me a chance to sing and meet some like-minded people.
In my second year, I was the Secretary General (Sec-Gen) of the University's Model United Nations (MUN), which is part of the Academic Enrichment Programme for my course. And in my final year I was the Editor in Chief for the Law Society. Being the Sec-Gen for MUN was one hundred per cent the most interesting, fun and challenging role I have taken on outside of academia during my time at university.
Gaining real-world work experience
During my degree I had the honour of being a Research Assistant to a lecturer at the university. This was so amazing for me. I learnt so much in terms of the actual subject matter, as well as heightening my research and organisational skills.
I also had the amazing opportunity to be employed as a Student Ambassador, a role that I have enjoyed from the very start, and one I will miss very much when I’m gone. The role taught me so much about meeting different people from really diverse backgrounds. It also taught me so much about Higher Education in the UK and made me realise that in this world there really are endless roads that one can take to further their education and career.
Finally, I really like Whittard in Gunwharf! Firstly, free samples in store every day? Amazing. I really like trying all the new, adventurous flavours of hot chocolate, and the fact that they offer a student discount and a loyalty card sell it for me. I wish I could pack it up and take it home with me.
I’m still figuring out what I’d like to do next. I know I’d like to do a Master’s degree, but the question is what to study, and whether or not I’d like to continue in the UK or study somewhere else in the world. My time in uni has helped me to become more assertive and independent. My social skills have developed quite a bit and I will always be grateful for that.
The reality is I would not have been a Research Assistant, had the opportunity to speak with a number of world leaders or gained the confidence to be assertive in any space, if I hadn’t come to study here.
At the moment, I plan on enjoying the fact that I’ve graduated! This is because my life in academia has not really come to an end yet - not until I get my PhD! As I leave Portsmouth, I leave with a vast range of skills and experiences to include on my CV - thanks to all the people I have met and helped open doors for me - as well, of course, my education.
I know for a fact that the world is my oyster.