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The University of Southampton

Olly Perreira MSc Global Health

Olly Perreira's Photo

Meet Olly Perreira – an MSc Global Health student from Guyana on a Commonwealth Shared Scholarship.

I will forever be grateful to my lecturers for all their teachings and guidance. They were always there to provide support and encouragement, inspiring me to do the same when I return home

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

First and foremost was the versatility of the course. There was enough variety in optional courses to allow me to tailor my degree to fit my interests, as such I have done courses that I thoroughly enjoyed. Secondly, the university was highly ranked among UK universities and this influenced my decision to consider Southampton from the beginning. Thirdly, I appreciated that the city itself is not as busy as the capital.

What do you enjoy the most about living in Southampton or Winchester?

I live in Southampton and my favourite thing to do is to sit in Mayflower Park and watch the sea washing over the coast, especially at sunset. The orange light bathes half the water while the other half is covered in shadow. The peaceful, salty sea breeze is also calming and the seagulls can be entertaining. I also enjoy going down to the docks to watch the boats, where I saw a jellyfish once. I also like the park across from my student building. The entire city has many trees and parks but I can enjoy the ones up close a bit more. When it’s windy and the leaves are falling is one of my favourite things to watch.

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

I joined the girls’ field hockey team. It was wonderful to be a part of a group that had completely different interests from you but we all played and enjoyed the same game. It was heart-warming being a part of a team and great fun playing games with the girls, who were all very friendly and welcoming. It also gave me a chance to meet new friends.

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

I now have the knowledge I need to confidently talk about the topics I’ve always been interested, knowing that I am giving out accurate information. I have also become a lot more verbal in expressing my opinion due to the many class discussions we have had. I still get nervous but I am definitely more confident speaking to a group. I also feel like my leadership skills and group interaction skills have developed from the group work done during my degree. I am able to listen better and wait before I express my thoughts, and I am able to confidently do so.

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

I am most proud of the things I have learnt while here and my own progress in getting there. I am not so afraid to express my opinion as I was before because now I have the knowledge to back it up. I still get nervous (and probably always will) with public speaking but I am more confident in what I am saying. I am a lot more comfortable in who I am because of my time here. I also felt like I was on the moon when I got an 83% on a paper I’d written, which I have been told (and experienced) is quite difficult.

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

The toughest time I had was when I first moved to the country. I struggled quite a bit to understand the bus system since it is so different from the one back home. I got on the wrong bus quite a few times. I also personally have a poor sense of direction and kept getting lost, even quite close to my accommodation. However, I am grateful to the student helpers who were all around campus during freshers’ week who informed me of the buses I would need to get to and from the university and also helped me navigate Google maps to find which buses were coming and when.

How have the people you have met at Southampton changed your life?

I will forever be grateful to my lecturers for all their teachings and guidance. They were always there to provide support and encouragement, inspiring me to be the same when I return home: to always be available to provide support to any who may need it from me. I also now appreciate the importance of maintaining good mental health after seeing all the outlets provided by the university. Even issues I didn’t know could affect your mental health were supported by the university. The friends I have at Southampton have taught me so much and made me into a humbler person. They are all so brilliant and talented and made me realise how much more I have to learn to keep improving myself.

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

My degree will be very helpful in my securing a job when I return home. I have gained knowledge and many skills that would help me to compete in the job market. I am going home to work in the health sector, to improve it and also improve the public health data available on the country.

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

Mind-opening, fun, refreshing.

Is there anything else you would like to say?

I would like to thank the university for giving me this wonderful opportunity, I truly have enjoyed my time here. I now have friends from across the world, including Vietnam, Nigeria, Uganda, India, the Netherlands and the UK of course, because of the high diversity of students at the university. I also have friends that I met in my student building who have been wonderful. I was able to experience a different, beautiful way of life whilst here. The city itself is beautiful and has just the right amount of people to be comfortable. I have taken many walks just to enjoy the architecture, something I never cared for previously. There is a great variety of activities to do here and great people to meet. Once you’ve gotten over the initial roughness of settling in and finding your way around, it’s a wonderful place to study.

What is the name of the scholarship or bursary you have received?
Commonwealth Shared Scholarship.

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

All scholars were invited to London for a welcome event that included workshops. It allowed me to see people from home again. It was also a great opportunity for networking and meeting other scholars. I even met a few Caribbean-country ambassadors. There was also a three-day workshop in London that I was selected for but sadly that did not take place because of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the commission has made arrangements for this workshop to be provided online via Zoom meetings and the first session went wonderfully. The scholars were given the chance to brainstorm solutions together to various problems, even online.

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

It is best to start the application process early. The application is lengthy and requires you to write many essays, which you should give yourself enough time to think about so that you can produce your best work. If you rush, you may omit things or make mistakes.

Do not be afraid to ask for help. It is always good to have a critical eye review what you have written as they might see something you missed. Finally, not securing a scholarship now does not mean you won’t get one in the future. I was refused twice by different bodies before I succeeded with the shared scholarship so do not be afraid to try because you do not think you are good enough. You will never know unless you try. It does sound cliché but this was definitely me before I received this scholarship.

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