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The University of Southampton

Peter Mbao MSC Applied Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing RS)

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Having interacted with so much cultural diversity, I have come to realise that even though we may differ in many aspects of life, people are capable of working towards a common goal if they shed off those impediments. We have a lot in common than what meets the eye.

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

Firstly, it was location because I knew it would be slightly warmer, although not really that warm, I discovered  it had a balanced kind of weather and it was the only University offering literally two programmes in one (GIS and RS).

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

A peaceful and safe place for which research indicates that Southampton prides itself among five of the safest cities in the United Kingdom. It is endowed with lush ‘green spaces’ which are a great therapy for mental health and true to the banner I saw, 21% of the City is in forest and vegetation.

Have you undertaken any work placements, collaborations with industry, internships or volunteering? How has this enhanced your experience?

Due to the COVID-19 it was not possible to get any placements or internships.

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

Though not a very active member, the Student Christian Union was very welcoming, and it was the first group I got in contact with and really made me feel I had a home away from one.

What do you think you have gained from your degree that you wouldn’t have developed without it?
Having interacted with so much cultural diversity, I have come to realise that even though we may differ in many aspects of life, people are capable of working towards a common goal if they shed off those impediments. We have a lot in common than what meets the eye.

Academically, all I knew about GIS and Remote Sensing was map production, but it’s a lot more than that; actually, mapping is just a tiny component. Above all knowledge gained, is the ability to site Solar and Windfarms as the world explores alternative forms of energy

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

As a result of the program coupled with my own research, I have finally learned how to use ‘Drones’ for land surveys, but most importantly the ability to set-up and operate Surve-Grade Global Positioning System (GPS/GNSS) equipment.

After two years of practicing I will be allowed to apply for a SURVEYOR’S License, a lucrative business even after I have long-left active employment. Before this opportunity, it was all a pipe dream!!!.

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

Apart from cooking, I first had a hard time finding my way to a lecture room or building, but the Highfield Campus has these extremely illustrative location maps placed all over that greatly assisted me until I could do so un-aided. Whenever I lost my bearings, I could always frantically search for the circular spot that says “NOW YOU ARE HERE” and in no time rest my course.

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

I have had friends whose presence became a matter of life and death, success, or failure! There were times when things became so unbearable that I could find myself either mixing-up or completely forgetting my assignments deadlines and they could miraculously remind me so. “Truly, two are better than one”
 My supervisors were awesome, they put a human face to the modules and could literally come and KNEEL beside me to provide a solution to some tough processing. They made feel nothing is impossible in life and I’ll forever cherish that.

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

I know the chances of getting a promotion and a higher pay are higher but, ultimately I want to start my own Consultancy Firm and provide solutions to the many challenges my country Zambia, is faced with in Land-Use Planning, Energy and Mineral Explorations and Climatic Change Impacts.

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

“Education is Life”

Is there anything else you would like to say?

This exposure has made me have a wider and different perspective to life and I wish more would come here so we can change some of the ways we do things.

What is the name of the scholarship or bursary you have received?

The British Chevening Scholarship

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

With the stiped, I have been able to visit places I only dreamt about like London, Portsmouth, The Saints Mary’s Stadium home of Southampton Football Club, watched movies at West Quay Showcase Cinema de Lux, attended academic and social events, acquired personal effects, academic books and equipment. I had even booked for the Silverstone Formular-1 British Grand Prix and would have had an exhilarating moment  had it not been for the COVID-19.

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

Education is all about acquiring skills and material that can be applied to solving real world problems, so even as a prospecting applicant, there must be tangible evidence of either practicing that or well defined plans to do so if given the opportunity.

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