Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre SouthamptonPostgraduate study

Amanda Ceroli MSc Oceanography, 2020

Fulbright Scholar

Amanda Ceroli's Photo

I chose Southampton because it is world-renowned for ocean sciences, and one of the best places to study with access to leading scientists in the field. I have heard the scientific labs are exceptional, and I am looking forward to working in one when I finally determine a project.

How did you find out about the Fulbright Award and why did you choose to come and study at Southampton? Why did you choose MSc Oceanography?

I was first introduced to Fulbright while I was a second year when a few of mine won the award to continue their studies abroad. I was intrigued by the prospect of studying abroad, as I have a passion for traveling and learning from other cultures. I began researching the possibilities and requirements of the award. I found that Southampton University had a Fulbright partnership award to fund master’s degrees.

I chose Southampton because it is world-renowned for ocean sciences, and one of the best places to study with access to leading scientists in the field. I heard about Southampton through their undergraduate exchange program for marine biology with my uni in the US (University of North Carolina Wilmington). I didn’t have the chance to participate with my degree course (Physics), but I had some friends who did, and it has interested me ever since.

Which pathway have you chosen and what is it like studying here? How does it compare to studying in the USA?

I chose the Physical Oceanography pathway. I feel university life is essentially the same, well with respect to my daily life. The main difference is there is a lot more independent study time here, where the expectation is for you to enhance your learning on your own, mainly through recommended readings. Whereas in the US, independent study time would more be focused on completing daily assignments related to the course material. It is an interesting mental transition where I feel I am less productive with my time by just reading papers. Concerning the city, in general, it is easier to explore around here than where I am from in the US. The ease of either walking or using public transportation also makes it feel a bit safer here.

What are you enjoying most about your course and what are you looking forward to doing on the course? Are there any field work opportunities?

The degree itself is set up for students to gain a general understanding of the inner workings of the ocean environment. Though most of the courses aren’t in my particular concentration and are challenging in that sense, I have enjoyed learning the fundamentals of each aspect, their interactions, and especially how they make up the world oceans.

The Master’s Boat week was definitely a highlight in my opinion. I enjoy practical hands-on experiences like that and is one of the biggest appeals of this field for me. This occurred in the 6th week of term. We were separated into small teams that rotated around stations on the ship, so we could experience every scientific aspect of normal research cruises: software management while deploying the instruments, chemical and biological analysis, and data recording.

Which modules are you enjoying at the moment and which ones are you looking forward to undertaking?

Though I enjoy all of them, my favourite course right now is called Coastal Sediment Dynamics. This is mainly because it is taught from a physics and engineering standpoint, which I find more exciting and understand more easily. The versatility of physics always fascinates me, and this course is no exception.

I am looking forward to my courses next semester, especially the Modelling Coastal Processes course. The coastal zone is one of the most complex and least understood areas but is also the most important for human societies as it is where our daily lives intersect with the ocean. Therefore events in this region have the greatest immediate impacts on human societies. However, I am looking forward to all three courses I am taking: Ecological Modelling, Climate Cycles, and Modelling Coastal Processes. These are short 3-week intensive models, which will be another challenge in itself as I have never experienced this type of lecture schedule before. I’m excited to learn more about the global applications of the fundamental concepts I’ve learned this semester.

What are your thoughts on the facilities here and what’s it like to study at NOCS, based on the waterfront?

Unfortunately, I have not been able to utilize the unique facilities at NOCS, besides being on the research vessel during boat week, since this semester is more focused on gaining a general understanding of the individual fields within oceanography. It does live up to the expectations for scenic views being waterfront, especially when it is sunny outside. To me it creates a calming atmosphere to study an do work. I have heard the scientific labs are exceptional, and I am looking forward to working in one when I finally determine a project.

Did you have the opportunity to study modules outside of your core subject area?

Most of the modules are out of my core subject. It is refreshing to gain a more extensive understanding, but sometimes I do miss the mathematics.

Are there any areas of research that interest you?

I’m very interested in the physics of the coastal ocean. Though, I have not narrowed down a specific focus within this research area. I am intrigued by the geophysics of sediment movements and coastline morphology due to the tides, but I am also interested in the actual water movements in this region, primarily through estuarine systems.

Have you undertaken any extracurricular activities? How have they enhanced your experience?

Outside of academics, I have taken up lindy hop dancing (aka swing dancing) and bouldering (rock climbing). I have also gone to the occasional pub quiz with friends from my course. These activities have enhanced my social experience here, allowing me to learn more about English culture (mainly through the pub quiz) and create stronger bonds with my coursemates.

I mentioned trying to learn traditional UK social dances like the ceilidh in the interview. This is a goal of mine but is limited due to schedule conflicts. There was one during fresher week I went to and absolutely loved, but I haven’t heard of any others here.

What has been the hardest aspect of studying in another country? How have you overcome the challenges? How has the university supported you?

I am pretty good at adapting to new places, but in general, I’d say the hardest aspect is the initial process to establish your life in a new country. I had no orientation to where things were in the city or within UK and no immediate support system. The university and Fulbright committee were very helpful in helping me become acquainted with the area and different resources. The office of international scholarships was very friendly and always willing to answer any logistical question I had. Maria Norton, the Senior International Partnerships Manager, even came to London to meet me in person at the Fulbright orientation reception.

I would say I was most worried about developing a solid friend group, but Fulbright and my course helped me in that aspect by introducing me to a lot of people in the same situation.

Besides adjusting to a new life, the biggest challenge I’ve had is getting accustomed to academic expectations. The UK system has a much more strict and realistic grading scale than the US, which requires a bit of a mental adjustment to actually understand how you compare with the standards.

What has the scholarship/funding allowed you to do/experience that you may not have experienced otherwise?

The scholarship funding has let me engage in activities and the English social culture without the worry of finances. It allows me to spend more time developing quality relations with others rather than wrapped up in a job.

What are you most proud of so far?

Maintaining a decent life balance between school, socializing, and personal time (sleep). Navigating this balance has always been difficult for me, and usually I choose to pour myself solely into my studies and jobs while neglecting the social aspect. My personal goal for this year was to step out of my comfort zone to develop a healthy balance of all three. I would definitely say life is more enjoyable with friends to share it with outside of school and work.

What are your aspirations for the future? How has your degree so far assisted with your ambitions?

Eventually, I would like to pursue a PhD, but that is a goal for the distant future. In the immediate future, I aspire to enter the workforce and gain real-world experience in my field. My degree so far has challenged me in many ways, which have especially helped in defining my aspirations after this year. I aim to have a career that utilizes the knowledge learnt to make significant contributions to society through areas outside academia. All my course mates come from different backgrounds and levels of life experiences, and I have learned a lot from their perspectives.

The lecturers and staff understand the variety of career options following this program and do everything they can to help the students network as whole and on an individual basis. We receive information about potential PhD, research, and job opportunities. I believe the degree program organizes (or helps organize) an ocean science career fair in the spring, which I am really looking forward to attending. They have also informed us of a larger event in London in late spring, that I would also like to attend.

What advice would you give to a Fulbright student starting their studies at Southampton?

To another Fulbright student, my advice is to not give in to the imposter syndrome that can come with the Fulbright label. Be diligent and keep up with the recommended readings at the beginning of the term.

Share this profile Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings