Salma El Youmi MSc Project Management, graduated December 2016
The infrastructure of the university is ideal. We also feel like we always have someone to talk to if we struggle, may it be a professor, a tutor or even an advisor. Southampton has a diverse campus where I honestly feel like I don’t stand out, in a good way, I am free to just be who I am. I never thought I would be able to leave home for a long period of time and not only survive but actually enjoy every single minute of it.
Why did you choose to study at the University of Southampton?
So many variables come into play when we are an international student. I did an exhaustive compare and contrast analysis between all the universities I got accepted into based on the cost of living, the reputation of the programme, the reputation of the university as a whole, the diversity of clubs and societies, the campus, the scholarship…and believe it or not Southampton wasn’t the university that offered me the highest scholarship. However, there was an event organized in Casablanca where many UK universities were represented and the 5 min chat I had with Rami Al Mousa made the choice so much easier for me. I felt like I was special, like I wasn’t just another candidate in the pile, a mere number. Then the speed by which the university would reply to my emails supported that feeling. This is the best decision I could have ever made.
What do you enjoy the most about living in Southampton?
The green spaces. That would be my favourite thing in Southampton. Lots of parks everywhere and one literally 2 mins away from where I live. I also like how everything is pretty much close and I can walk to wherever I need to get, even though I do have a bus pass. I also like how the city is pretty small and contained, yet I never get bored. Last but not least…the food. Being a foodie myself, the thing I wish I could do most is magically make my parents taste a Sprinkles waffle! I haven’t been to all the restaurants I wanted to go to but I am rapidly crossing items on my list so I’m sure I will very soon get there.
If you had any difficulties during your studies, how did you overcome them?
The grading system is very different from the one I got used to during my undergraduate studies. In fact, the whole system is different. However, it’s nothing major that a quick discussion with one of my favourite professors here didn’t fix. As for the dissertation, let’s just say that I still need to be done with semester’s modules before I start worrying about that as well. But I have a feeling that no matter how hard it will get, I will miss all of this very soon so I’m really just focusing on enjoying every minute of it.
What will you do with your degree after you have finished your studies?
Ideally, and hopefully, I want to use my degree to find a job as a project manager in event planning in the short term. I say in the short term because in the long run, I want to become a professor and be able to teach the people’s side of project management, but I need extensive years of experience if I could ever dream of going into an academic career. My MSc would therefore also help me find a good PhD program, still within the field of Project Management.
Did you receive a scholarship for your studies?
I have indeed received a scholarship for my studies. I was granted a £5000 scholarship from the University of Southampton simply because my grades during my undergraduate years were high enough. I didn’t have to apply for it or anything. However, seeing that all those efforts I had made during four years of my life had paid off, and without me even asking for it, it meant the world to me. Also, coming from Morocco where the conversion rate is 1 pound to 15 Dirhams on average, I could have used as much money as I could have gotten and £5000 is no small amount.
If you could give your past-self one piece of advice about coming to study in Southampton, what would it be?
Don’t worry Salma, you will love every single minute of it!
Would you recommend the University of Southampton to students from your home country?
Absolutely! I actually have and it paid off because a friend of mine just received his offer to study at the University of Southampton. First of all, Southampton is such a nice city with an ideal location. I absolutely love living here, especially that it is much cheaper than London for instance, so it’s always good to mention that point when money is an important issue.
Also, the infrastructure of the university is ideal. We also feel like we always have someone to talk to if we struggle, may it be a professor, a tutor or even an advisor. The amount of club and activities is also ridiculous and being an active person, with active friends, I always stress on that point.
Finally, and most importantly, Southampton has a diverse campus where I honestly feel like I don’t stand out, in a good way. Being a Muslim student who’s veiled on top of it, I unfortunately faced a lot of racism in many places I’ve been to around the world, especially during my exchange semester in the US. I was extremely nervous I would face the same thing coming here. To my delight, I feel like just any other regular student and it’s nice not to feel like we need to prove a point all the time. I am free to just be who I am and this a point that I never forget to mention because any Moroccan that would be coming to Southampton would be in the same position I am in right now.
What is your favourite spot on campus?
Being a singer, I’m going to have to say Turner Sims because that’s when all my performances have been, and I am never happier than when I sing.
What were your first impressions of the University of Southampton?
Coming from Morocco, I got very confused with the whole driving on the wrong side of the road, but I guess that’s a UK thing in general rather than just Southampton. It still took me longer than I care to admit for me to get used to that. Apart from that, I was lucky enough for the weather to be warm and sunny the first time I got to the University. Therefore, I only have great memories of that day.
What has been your proudest accomplishment while you were in Southampton?
Getting out of my comfort zone and doing things I never thought I was capable of doing. I never thought I would be able to leave home for a long period of time and not only survive but actually enjoy every single minute of it. Yet, here I am dreading having to say goodbye to all of this. This is why I would say that my proudest accomplishment is actually the whole decision of leaving everything I know and everyone I love behind to embark on this adventure.
Do you have any stories about your time in Southampton or a happy memory you want to share?
All my happy moments in Southampton (and frankly in life in general) have two things in common: friends and food (in that specific order). While I cherish all of these moments so very deeply and each one of them is unique to me, I don’t think it’s something really worth sharing though.