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Laura Sofia Ugarte Rivas Venezuelan, graduated in July 2015

LLM Maritime Law

Laura Sofia Ugarte Rivas's Photo

The University of Southampton has a lot to offer, apart from the excellent academic part, there are several social events organised by the Uni and lots of societies to be part of...I did not know the university was so well connected to the city centre and so well integrated to the surrounding community.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Southampton?

In 2012, while I was working as a lawyer for the Maritime Authority in Venezuela, I started my own personal search about potential opportunities to study a Master in Maritime Law abroad as LLM studies in this specific area do not exist in my country.

After a long search and several conversations with some Professors from the University where I completed my bachelor degree, I concluded that the University of Southampton was the best option for this kind of studies. It is categorized as one of the best universities in the world to study maritime law, taking into account the environment of the city, the academic programme offered and the top quality of Professors who teach every single module. One of the things I most liked about the course is the range of modules and the variety of alternatives to choose, that practically it becomes a tailor made course depending on your interests.

These positive aspects were more than enough to consider Southampton the best option for me. That is why I decided to apply back then. I was also awarded with the Iberoamerican Master Scholarship offered by Santander Bank.

What were your first impressions of the University of Southampton?

The University of Southampton has a lot to offer, apart from the excellent academic part, there are several social events organised by the Uni and lots of societies to be part of. The Library is one of the biggest I have ever seen, I remember that healthy food options can be found in any of the cafes inside the campus and a lot of fun activities like karaoke and movie nights. I did not know the University was so well connected to the city centre and so well integrated to the surrounding community, and it was great the young and vibrant environment of the whole city.

What do you enjoy the most about living in Southampton?

The city is very beautiful and the weather turned out to be very pleasant, in comparison with other areas of the country. I lived in Glen Eyre Halls, one of the halls of residence that the University offers, and being there made my stay more enjoyable because I was surrounded by lot of students and we could gather to watch a movie, playing some board games or preparing traditional foods from our countries.

What is your favourite spot on campus?

My favourite spot was The Bridge. It was the most common place to meet my friends to revise some academic material, but we also enjoyed the wine/cheese tasting and the comedy shows presented there… Just thinking in that place makes me smile and remember really good times.

What has been your proudest accomplishment while you were in Southampton?

Without any doubt, I would say that it was my Graduation Day.

For me, it was the first time studying in English and in an UK University, so academic demands were a bit intimidating at first. However, after some advice from the Faculty of Law personnel, personal tutor and classmates, I developed my own rhythm to catch up with the lectures and tutorials. I did finish my master with success and I could not feel more proud of myself.

Would you recommend the University of Southampton to students from your home country?

They should expect to live in a very nice environment, surrounded by young and friendly people. I am pretty sure it will not be difficult to get used to live here because there are a lot of international students, so the opportunities to share experiences with people from other cultures, like food, music or art, are big.

At the beginning can be a little bit overwhelming because you are arriving in London with all your belongings and little information about Southampton in general, so if an international student decides to come here, I would highly recommend to sign up for the Greet and Meet service because you will receive guidance, by the University staff, from the moment you arrive to the airport in London until you are settled in your accommodation in Southampton. I took it in September 2013 and it helped me a lot to settle down in an easier way.

What will you do with your degree after you have finished your studies?

After delivered my dissertation at the end of August 2014, I started an internship at the Marine and International Trade Department of the international law firm Clyde & Co LLP in London. The internship lasted 4 months (September - December) and fortunately in January 2015 they offered me a place as Paralegal at the same department for a whole year. It was a wonderful experience as I could see in practice all the information received during the master and deepen my knowledge in maritime law.

Do you have any stories about your time in Southampton or a happy memory you want to share?

I really enjoyed my whole stay in Southampton. I was part of the Hill walking Society and Yoga Society and that kept me busy during the weekends. I met wonderful people that I am still in contact with.

A good memory is that a group of classmates from different nationalities that were also living in Glen Eyre decided to meet every month for dinner and each one of us had to cook a dish from our country. That was a great opportunity to try new food and learn for other cultures.

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