Jessie’s summer in Seoul, South Korea

Jessie Nsingo, having completed her first-year studying Music, Technology and Performance, spent 4-weeks at Yonsei International Summer School (YISS), one of the world’s premier universities in South Korea! Through the YISS program, Jessie studied in one of the most exciting cities in Asia, Seoul. Based in centre of the city, she was taught by both Yonsei’s distinguished faculty and was immersed in Korean culture throughout the experience.

The opportunity was partly funded by the Turing Scheme and was open to all DMU students. Below are some of her thoughts about the experience…

Why did you decide to travel abroad with DMU Global?

I decided to travel abroad with DMU Global as I wanted to have the full experience of what University has to offer, and broaden my understanding of education on a global level. As a musician and artist, being able to study abroad is particularly important as it helps with inspiration for projects, practicing social skills and learning essential skills needed for the industry. I also wanted to travel abroad, especially to South Korea, as I am currently practicing my Korean language skills. I also love to challenge and push myself out of my comfort zone. When you are in a different country, you are forced to adapt to diverse cultures and mannerisms as well as communicate in a completely different language.

Were there any barriers that you had to overcome to participate on this experience? Were you nervous about anything prior to going abroad?

There definitely were barriers! As I was travelling on my own for the first time, I had to learn how to check in for my flight, manage my time and make sure that I had all the essential documents . After arriving in South Korea, I had to build up my confidence to communicate in Korean to get around, whilst appreciating that I was still learning. I was extremely nervous that there would be things that I did not understand, but the locals were very lovely and extremely helpful.

How helpful was Widening Participation Turing funding in allowing you to participate?

The funding, which I am really grateful for, allowed me to pay for the program fees, cover the cost of the housing and overall helped me to take part in this experience. Alongside my travel insurance, the funding gave me security.

What activities did you participate in whilst abroad?

I was studying abroad, this allowed me to get experience from another university as well as learn a whole new subject. I was able to visit loads of tourist attractions; I hiked up a mountain, I got to see the whole city from a tower, and I got to try numerous different foods as well as experiences. Honestly, there are so many things that I can list out. It’s better to experience it for yourself rather than hear it from me!

What would you say to somebody considering participating on a DMU Global experience?

Do not miss the chance! Honestly, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Do not let the fear overcome your thoughts and just do! It was a 1 in a million chance and it happened to be. If you do not get this opportunity now, there are so many others.

‘DMU student, Stephanie makes a difference volunteering in Fiji as part of the Turing Scheme

Stephanie Muthambulwa, a first-year Law student, has recently returned from her very first DMU Global opportunity – Volunteering in Fiji for four weeks with Think Pacific!

With a focus on youth empowerment for sustainable development, as a part of the opportunity, Stephanie lived with a Fijian family in a rural community and worked in a team to assist community development projects that help the Fiji National Development Plan succeed.

The opportunity was partly funded by the Turing Scheme and was open to students that meet their criteria to help widen access to international experiences. Below are some of her thoughts about the experience…

Why did you decide to travel abroad with DMU Global?

I decided to travel with DMU global because of the support and guidance that is provided especially for me not having travelled a lot by myself. I applied because I believed that it would be a good personal development step in my life. In addition, as I am a first-year student, I wanted to make the most of my time at university.

Were there any barriers that you had to overcome to participate in this experience?

One barrier that I had to overcome to participate in this experience was my lack of extra finances for the trip. I was unable to find a part job during my time in university and I was worried about the extra costs of the program, especially being a careleaver, meaning that I did not have any help from my family. I was able to speak to my social worker and she managed to help me get funding for the extra costs of the trip. In addition to this, I had to overcome my shyness and be confident in being the first to engage in a conversation in person (unlike the messaging we did on the group chat) with the other people coming on the trip.

How helpful was the Turing Scheme bursary in allowing you to participate?

The Turing Scheme bursary was helpful for the trip in covering flights and the Think Pacific fees. This allowed me to secure my place in the program and feel less anxious about the major details. Once the flight was booked and the fees were paid, I didn’t really have to worry about anything else.

Were there any local foods or drinks that you discovered and enjoyed?

The abundance of coconuts in Fiji means that the majority of the local cuisine is prepared using fresh coconut cream, and I love coconuts! My favourite meal would have to be the taro leaves which were boiled in coconut cream. However, I also loved lovo which is cassava, pork or chicken, taro leaves and dalo (taro) wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in the ground. The flavours were rich and delicious.

Due to the heat, I drank a lot of water, but I also tasted kava, a traditional Fijian drink that is consumed both medicinally and for social purposes. It has a really earthy flavour that not everyone would like, but after a few days, I got used to it. If you visit Fiji, I recommend that you give it a try. In fact, you might have already received a lot of offers before you even asked.

What was the highlight of your DMU Global experience?

The highlight of my DMU global experience must be the local aspect of the whole project. Living with a host family and getting to know them, spending time with them. We taught what in England are normal basic skills to which in return they taught us their culture and customs. At the end of the whole 14 days, I got to perform and show them what I learned from them. Also, I seem to pick up languages quickly so that was a bonus for me because now I know basic Fijian!!! I am still in touch with my host family, and they have told me countless times that I am welcome in their home anytime which is such an honour for me.

Has your DMU Global experience inspired you to pursue further international experiences?

This is my first DMU Global experience and it has 100% inspired me to apply for more programs that offer cultural exchanges or anything to do with volunteering and learning about people. I plan on applying for a year abroad as well to build more on my cultural and personal knowledge.

Finally, what would you say to somebody considering participating on a DMU Global experience?

Go for it, you won’t regret it! Even though it might seem daunting, and you may be worried about meeting people or talking to people, there will always be someone to talk to. Worrying about settling in, trust in time, and soon it will be home. Do things that you are afraid to do, that is what aids growth!

DMU Global praised by student wheelchair user for making trip to Berlin accessible to all

Umaymah Dakri, 21, who is studying Speech and Language Therapy at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), flew to Berlin this week for a DMU Global trip looking at how Germany’s capital is working towards the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, and has praised DMU Global for helping organise her first solo trip overseas.

Umaymah says the team at DMU Global, the university’s international experience programme, and the DMU Global Disability support officer Dipika Patel, went out of their way to ensure the trip was tailored to her needs as a wheelchair user.

It means that Umaymah, who has Spina Bifida, had arrangements made to ensure bus travel, passenger assistance at the airport and a personal assistant in Berlin were  all in place to ensure she experiences everything her fellow students do during the trip.

Umaymah says other students with mobility needs should also apply for DMU Global trips, based on her positive experiences.

“It is fantastic that there is this amount of support for a disabled person and it makes sure I can enjoy a DMU Global trip and do the same things as everyone else does,” Umaymah said.

“They have really ensured I can have the best possible student experience. It is the first time I have been overseas without my parents helping me and they are very excited for me.

“I had lots of meetings with the DMU Global team and was asked what support I would need. So we have discussed getting on and off the coach to the airport, passenger assistance at the airport, getting a seat at the front of the plane to get on and off easily, hotel access and a personal assistant to help me while in Berlin.

“It is going to be so good to experience some independence and also get some creative content for my Instagram page and show how easy or difficult it might be to navigate your way around Berlin in a wheelchair or other mobility aid.

“I want to be able to give people who use a wheelchair or who have mobility issues a deeper insight into where to visit, how easy it is to find a toilet, where there may be lots of steps and so on and then give my view on whether the city is a good place to visit.”

Umaymah started to campaign on access issues when she had problems with cars parking on pavements around where she lives in Leicester.

In the past year she has run a campaign called #dontcurbtheaccess about cars which pull up on to kerbs.

“I’ve created videos to highlight problems caused by parked cars and how it affects people in wheelchairs or people with mobility issues. Parking on the kerb means I have to go on to the road in my wheelchair to get by and it’s obviously dangerous.

“I live in the city so we have people parking badly for work or when they go to the mosque or some people park where there is a dropped kerb which is the only way I can cross a road in my electric wheelchair.”

Umaymah plans to record her trip on her social media channels to show her 2,000 followers what it is like to visit tourist destinations in the city. You can follow or catch up on Umaymah’s story on Instagram

Hurray for Hollywood! DMU Global takes to the skies again with Film Studies students’ trip to LA

The Wonder Con poster by comic artist Jen Bartel

After being grounded by worldwide travel restrictions, the award-winning DMU Global scheme is taking to the skies again with overseas trips resuming after more than two years.

Film Studies students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) could barely contain their excitement as they jetted off to Los Angeles today and the world capital of movie making.

It’s just one of a number of new overseas experiences being run by DMU Global for DMU students this spring and summer as a pilot to resume trips.

During their 10-day visit to LA, the Film Studies students will head to Wonder Con – a three day internationally-renowned comic convention – to look at fan culture, which they study as part of their degree.

They will gather information from fans they meet to inform their degree work and understand how media culture, such as film and TV, is consumed experienced, lived and celebrated around the world.

On top of that, students can complete their once-in-a-lifetime trip to California by vising fan pilgrimage sites such as the Hollywood sign, Universal Studios, Disneyland, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Dolby Theatre where the Oscars took place on Sunday, Paramount Pictures – including a rare opportunity to see the paramount archives – the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.

Dr Matt Jones, Deputy Programme Leader for Film Studies and Academic Practices Officer, has organised the incredible trip for the students with the DMU Global team and has been involved in designing and delivering overseas opportunities since 2014.

He said: “It is a once-in-a-lifetime, literally money-cannot-buy experience that gives our students the connections, knowledge and adventurousness of spirit they need to succeed in the global film industry. What an absolute and utter relief to have DMU Global back!”

Before heading off to LA, Film Studies student Kimberley Clarke said: “it was DMU Global that convinced me to come to this university. The course is brilliant but a trip to LA too – that was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I could not miss. Then COVID hit and I really thought the chance had gone.

“When it was confirmed we would be going to LA I think I just squealed. I couldn’t contain myself.”

Fellow Film Studies student Lucas Parker, whose favourite movie is Jaws, said: “This will be the first time I have been to the US and the first time I will have ever gone to a convention.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for me to experience the world and broaden my horizons.”

Bethany Peake, also Film Studies, said: “We are going to be travelling to the heart of the film world and immerse ourselves in it. I know we share the same language with the US but we are going to be experiencing a completely different environment and culture. It is so exciting.

“I grew up watching Marvel Films and the DC Comics universe so to be able to go to a convention in LA does not seem real.”

Maddie Kirby, Film Studies and Creative Writing, added: “I was watching the Oscars on Sunday night and to be going to the very same theatre where that happened is amazing. When I think about touring round LA I can’t help but think ‘who are we going to bump into?’.”

Iona McGinn, also Film Studies, said she is excited about visiting the Friends set in the Warner Bros studio lot. “This is our moment to shine. After three tough years of study, and 18 months spent learning online I think this is our reward. This has bonded us as a group and we are all so excited to be going to share these incredible experiences as a group of friends.”

Dr Jones added: “One reason our students choose our Film Studies programme is its global focus. During the pandemic, that has had to be largely theoretical due to the imposition of travel restrictions. We coped just fine, but I know the students felt they were missing out on experiencing international film cultures first-hand.

“So now to be able to take final year students, who have had a rough few years of missed opportunities, to Los Angeles to see the world’s most famous film industry in action and to attend a major fan convention of the sort that you just can’t find anywhere else is simply incredible.

“Several of our students have never left Europe before, and a couple have never left the UK. To have the privilege of being able to open up their horizons in this way is so special and is one of the reasons I am so proud of the work I do at DMU.”