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The University of Southampton

Roshny  Saji

MSc Chemistry

Roshny  Saji's Photo

I aspired to study in The University of Southampton because of its excellence in the fields of education, research and innovation. Ranked among the top 100 universities in the world, its global reputation with regards to the quality of education makes it an abode of international students like me.

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

I aspired to study in The University of Southampton because of its excellence in the fields of education, research and innovation. Ranked among the top 100 universities in the world, its global reputation with regards to the quality of education makes it an abode of international students like me. The university has the academic facilities of international standard and also houses world-leading research in chemistry, biochemistry and physical sciences, thereby making it the best choice I had in higher studies in science.

I would like to pursue research in Chemistry, with prime focus on Biochemistry and Chemical Biology. I aspire to do my PhD in cancer and genomic sciences and then continue to contribute to these fields through my research. The research in these fields in the University of Southampton is of high standard with world-class equipments and facilities. The university pioneers a wide variety of research projects that have profound impacts on the society, including those pertaining to the study of cancer and other diseases. The contributions of the professors from the university in these fields have been greatly appreciated and recognized and I believe that they will guide me in my path to my dreams.

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

Southampton is a very welcoming city, especially for international students. In this city, I met with a community that was willing to extend a helping hand to their fellow beings in all possible ways, even if not asked for. It is heartwarming to start your day by greeting smiling faces on the streets, even when they might not be familiar ones.  I feel very safe and confident to walk on the streets of Southampton even late at night.

This historic city holds in store a great deal of opportunities for students. Whether it be basic facilities like accommodation and transport or bigger issues like career prospects, Southampton always presents a list to students. The prime location of the city is also an additional benefit. But the most striking feature of Southampton is its subtle nature. Despite being a city with all the necessary facilities, Southampton has a calm atmosphere, away from the hustle and bustle of bigger cities. This feature, coupled with the scenic beauty and the friendly community, makes it an abode for international students.

I arrived in the university a week prior to the start of classes. This gave me the chance to meet some new friends and to familiarize with the university and the city of Southampton well in advance. My first day in the university was the first day of the welcome week; the walk around the campus was a bit tricky at first but the student volunteers were always available for any help needed. Many programmes had been arranged for the freshers, among which the main highlight were the campus and city tours, the freshers’ fayres and the Bunfight. Through the campus and city tours, I was introduced to the various facilities for students in Southampton. The Bunfight was indeed a memorable event whereupon I got to explore for a whole day the different clubs and societies in the university. I was quite astonished to see the number of opportunities available for students in terms of extra-curricular activities.

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

I have been selected as an intern for the Excel Internship Programme by the University of Southampton. The post is that of a Chemistry Technician. I will be working with SouthWestSensor Ltd., with most of the work based in the university campus. During the course of the internship, I will be supporting the chemistry and engineering R&D teams and performing chemistry experiments to analyse the samples collected from various natural sources.

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

A great deal of focus is given to extra-curricular activities. Over 300 societies and clubs are open to the students to explore their skills beyond the classroom walls. What interests me most about the university is that along with providing students with all the facilities, it takes back a feedback from them. The university ensures that the students are satisfied with the amenities, and if not it makes sure that any problems or required improvements are dealt with. The university puts extra effort to give the students what they had been promised in the first place.

The University of Southampton provides a wide range of opportunities when it comes to extra-curricular activities. It provided me with the chances to explore my skills in areas that I was not familiar with before. The most interesting among them was archery; I joined the Archery Club and completed the beginner’s course with them whereupon I was familiarized with techniques and styles of archery. It gives me immense pleasure to go down thrice a week to the archery range to continue with the practice.

I am also an active member of the Catholic Society. The daily mass and the Bible study sessions with the Catholic Society keeps me closer to God, and helps me to reflect more on my life and the lives around me. Also, the happy meal after Sunday masses is where I found most of my friends in Southampton.

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

Apart from the regular lectures, the School of Chemistry puts a great deal of effort in making its students the best scientists. We were given training in safety practices, including a practical session with fire extinguishers. With the aim of making students well-versed in scientific writing, special classes are conducted devoting to structural writing, referencing and plagiarism.

The university also makes sure that the students are guided through their careers in the best possible way. Career guidance workshops and meetings with different company delegates are regularly conducted for Chemistry students.

What are you most proud of from your time at the University of Southampton so far? (This could be social or academic)

The news that we would be meeting the British Prime Minister Theresa May took us all by surprise. It was such a privilege meeting her as a British Council scholar. Who else would be going straight to 10, Downing Street on their first visit to London? It was indeed a true honour. We had a small interaction with the Prime Minister, followed by a photo session and a reception at her residence. The PM extended her heartfelt congratulations to us for securing the scholarship and urged us to thrive harder to achieve our goals.

The day was added with more colour when we were invited for a high tea in the House of Lords and then a grand reception in the Science Museum. We met with UK parliamentarians and connected with key businesses and universities to explore potential work placements and internships.

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

Moving away from your family and settling all alone in a country with an entirely different culture and people was a challenging experience. I was worried if I would fit into a place that was totally new and unknown to me. However, what awaited me here in Southampton was a very welcoming society, consisting of people with warm smiles and helping hands. It didn’t take me so long to realize that I have come to the right place where I am accepted as who I am. All my doubts and fears vanished with each new encounter here; no one in this community left me alone unless they were sure that help has reached me. I never felt helpless or alone in dealing with issues here whether it be small things like finding the correct venue in the campus or bigger issues like home sickness.

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

Upon completion of my post-graduation, I intend to pursue Ph.D. in Chemistry, preferably from the University of Southampton, with focus on cancer and genomic sciences. I would then proceed to work as a research scientist so that I can apply the scientific knowledge and expertise that I acquired from Southampton for the betterment of the society. I aim to maneuver my knowledge and research skills in Chemistry to practical use by studying cancer and its pathways and developing better and efficient methods for its treatment.  The superior quality of research in Chemical Biology in the University of Southampton is sure to provide me with the necessary skills for the same.

After a brief period of service in the UK, I intend to return to India and contribute to the research studies there. Despite decades-long war against cancer, it has prevailed to be one of the most life-threatening diseases of all time and India has seen a significant rise in the number of cancer patients in recent years. Having witnessed many of my relatives and friends succumb to cancer, I decided to base my research studies on cancer and genomic sciences, and develop methods for better and cheaper methods for its treatment.

I would then move on to serve as a college professor as it would help me achieve my two main goals – to contribute to scientific research and to illuminate young minds with the knowledge and wide arena of science. Hence, I intend to serve my country in a two-fold manner – by basing my research on developing efficient methods for cancer treatment and by preparing the next generations to deal with the challenges of the world by sharing the knowledge that I acquired and will acquire over the years. I will make sure that my efforts do not get limited within a small proportion of people, instead would reach out to the masses far and wide.

I am confident that the education and experience that I gain from the University of Southampton would prepare me for my ventures that I wish to undertake in my future. I would make the maximum benefit of the unique approach that the university have towards education and learning, and promote its best features upon my return to India.

Is there anything else you would like to say?

The student-oriented atmosphere in the university is the key feature that makes it one of the best. The university focuses on the all-round development of the students; all kinds of academic and personal support are ensured to the students 24/7. The department faculties, other staff and the students’ union work endlessly to ensure that each and every student is provided with all the facilities and support that they require. Having a Personal Academic Tutor to guide you through the university further makes the university a wonderful experience. Furthermore, students are provided with well-quipped laboratories, 24/7 library, common study spaces and also, a convenience store for basic amenities.

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

British Council India Scholarship

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

The British Council India scholarship is aimed at women-empowerment in the fields of Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics. It focuses on encouraging women with sheer talent, creativity and innovation to come forward to the limelight of science and research. I believe that it was these qualities of mine, coupled with my deep passion for science that helped me in procuring the scholarship. I was confident and enthusiastic about pursuing higher studies in Chemistry in world-class facilities in the UK.

Moreover, I was able to present myself as an ambassador who promotes the educational association and cooperation between the UK and India. I had assured that I would convert the theories and principles that I learn during my post-graduation to a practical approach that aids in better health, as well as good quality education. And hence, I will be setting a fine example to demonstrate the importance of excellent educational facilities, as well as an unending passion for the subject. I am sure that this would encourage more students to pursue their higher studies where globally recognized quality education and a global exposure are assured to them. Thus it will aid in strengthening the relationships and eliminating any barriers between the people in both the countries.

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