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The University of Southampton

Nirmani Amarasinghe MSc Operational Research, Sri Lanka

British Council Women in STEM scholar

Nirmani Amarasinghe's Photo

I chose to study at the University of Southampton for several reasons. Firstly, the university has a strong international reputation for its high-quality education and research across various fields, which was important to me in selecting a reputable institution. Additionally, Southampton offers the exact combination of subjects I am interested in, aligning perfectly with my academic goals and career aspirations. The university's location near the coastal area was also a significant factor for me, as I enjoy being close to the sea and the pleasant climate of the region. Moreover, Southampton provides ample research opportunities and access to cutting-edge facilities, which will undoubtedly enrich my academic experience and broaden my knowledge.

What do you enjoy the most about living in Southampton?

One of the best things about living in Southampton is definitely the abundance of green spaces around the city. It's so refreshing to have these areas to relax and enjoy nature whenever I need a break. Another great aspect is the easy access to a wide variety of restaurants and grocery stores. I love that many of these places offer online delivery services, making it super convenient to get what I need without even leaving home. What's even better is the diversity of cuisines available, especially with so many Asian food stores around. I can easily find authentic ingredients and spices to cook dishes that remind me of home

What do you think you have gained from your degree that you wouldn’t have developed without it?

Completing my degree, particularly my master's program at the University of Southampton, has equipped me with invaluable practical skills and experiences that I wouldn't have developed otherwise. While my bachelor's education largely focused on theoretical concepts, my master's degree delved into hands-on applications, particularly in areas like computer coding and problemsolving techniques relevant to industry settings. Through group projects and collaborative assignments, I gained experience in working effectively within a team, honing my communication and leadership skills along the way. These practical experiences have not only enhanced my technical proficiency but also prepared me to navigate real-world challenges and excel in professional environments, making my degree from Southampton instrumental in my personal and career development

What are you most proud of from your time at the University of Southampton so far?

One of the achievements I'm most proud of from my time at the University of Southampton is overcoming the initial challenges of being the only person from my country in the degree program and not living in university accommodation. Initially, I was apprehensive about how I would navigate university life and form connections with others. However, I am proud to say that I successfully integrated into the university community and formed meaningful friendships with peers from various countries. This experience has not only broadened my perspective and cultural understanding but also instilled in me a sense of resilience and adaptability. I am proud of my ability to thrive in a diverse and unfamiliar environment, and I am grateful for the friendships and support system I have found during my time at Southampton.

What has been the hardest aspect of studying in another country? How has the University helped you overcome the challenges?

Studying in another country comes with its own set of challenges, and one of the hardest aspects for me has been being far from family and friends. Adjusting to a new environment without the familiar support network can be daunting, especially during times of homesickness or when facing personal difficulties. Additionally, adapting to different teaching methods than those in my home country posed a learning curve initially, requiring me to adjust my study habits and approach to learning. However, the University of Southampton has been instrumental in helping me overcome these challenges. The university's diverse range of societies, including one representing my home country, provided me with a sense of community and belonging, helping me feel more at home despite being thousands of miles away. Furthermore, the university's supportive environment, coupled with lecturers who communicate clearly and have understandable accents, has facilitated my academic success and made the transition smoother

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

After completing my studies at the University of Southampton, I am enthusiastic about pursuing further academic endeavours, particularly a PhD. The reputation of Southampton as a high-ranking university, coupled with the knowledge and practical skills I have gained from my master's program, positions me well for securing a PhD opportunity. As I explore potential supervisors from different universities, I have noticed that many of them value a master's degree from Southampton, which strengthens my candidacy for doctoral research. Moreover, I believe that the rigorous academic training and research experience acquired during my master's program will serve as a solid foundation for my future research endeavours and career goals. Therefore, I am keen to embark on a PhD journey to delve deeper into my field of study, contribute to the academic community, and pursue my passion for research.

Can you sum up your University of Southampton experience in three words?

Enriching, Dynamic, Friendly

How has the funding enhanced your experience as a student at the University of Southampton?

The funding I received has profoundly enriched my experience as a student at the University of Southampton. As a student from a middle-class family, accessing a prestigious institution like Southampton would have been challenging without financial support. The scholarship I received has alleviated the financial burden, allowing me to fully focus on my studies without constant worries about finances. Moreover, being part of the scholarship program has provided me with opportunities to participate in various events and activities designed for scholars. These events not only foster a sense of community among scholars but also offer a platform to exchange ideas and perspectives with students from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

What advice do you have for future applicants who may wish to apply for this scholarship or bursary?

For future applicants interested in applying for this scholarship or bursary, my advice would be to focus on academic excellence during your undergraduate studies. This scholarship holds high standards, typically requiring a first-class degree, so dedicating yourself to your studies and achieving strong grades will significantly bolster your chances of success. Additionally, take advantage of opportunities to showcase your leadership skills, extracurricular involvement, and commitment to empowering women in your application. Emphasize how you plan to utilize the scholarship to further your education and contribute meaningfully to your field of study. Remember, this scholarship is not just about financial support but also about recognising and empowering women in academia.

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