DMU pharmacy student on fact-finding visit to Dubai

Thanks to the global opportunities offered by De Montfort University, Leicester (DMU), Pharmacy student Yasmin King has just returned from a fact-finding visit to Dubai with 18 fellow students.

While there, they had a chance to exchange ideas with prospective pharmacy graduates from that country and attend a three-day instructional conference.

As well as interacting with students from the Dubai Pharmacy College for Girls, Yasmin got a flavour of what it is like to study in Dubai, saw a working robot dispensing machine and went on a tour of the country’s newest private hospital.

Yasmin was full of praise for the eight-day trip organised by DMU Global, the university’s award-winning international experience programme. “It was a fabulous trip packed with activities,” said the 21-year-old from Nottingham.

“It’s given me a wonderful opportunity to meet other pharmacy students elsewhere in the world and see how another country approaches this subject.

“On the first day, we visited the Dubai Pharmacy College for Girls where we were given a tour of the grounds and gained a bit of an insight into what it is like to study pharmacy in Dubai by sitting in on a couple of lectures.

“The students we met spoke very good English, which made it really easy for us to communicate with each other. It was great to be able to discuss with them their course in detail. In the pharmacy industry so many medication names are the same all around the world, which is an exciting concept because it makes global discussions around pharmacy easy and increases job prospects.”

Yasmin also enthused about a tour around the Fakeeh University Hospital, a new private hospital in Dubai which was only built two years ago. “They showed us the latest technology they use, including a huge dispensing robot and a chute which transported medication to different wards,” she said. “We got to see so many of their different areas, including an amazing maternity suite.”

Yasmin and her group, which also included two pharmacy academics from DMU, went on to attend the DUPHAT three-day conference at the Dubai World Trade Centre. She said: “Like most other things in Dubai, it was on such a huge scale, with speakers and exhibits from 75 different countries. I loved the fact that we were able to choose which talks we could go to, because this made it really interesting and relevant to our own experiences of pharmacy so far and for the future.

“I attended some interesting talks on drug-beverage interactions, pain management, health promotion in pharmacy education, medication shortages and the life cycle of drug development.”

Yasmin revealed that there was also time allocated in the schedule to go on some exciting excursions. “We stayed at the Rove Trade Centre hotel, really close to the World Trade Centre and sampled some of the exotic attractions of Dubai, including seeing the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa,” she said.

“We also had some down time, when we all went on a desert safari as a group. We tried dune bashing – that’s riding in a vehicle circling sand dunes – plus quad biking, sand boarding and even riding on camels.”

This trip was a grand finale to the start of Yasmin’s final year on the four-year integrated master’s course at DMU, which she began when she was 18. From August she can look forward to starting her foundation training year at Kingsmill Hospital in Mansfield.

“I like the idea of continuing working in a hospital in the future,” she said. “I have already worked in a community pharmacy part-time for a number of years, while studying at DMU.

“My friends were really jealous hearing about my trip to Dubai,” Yasmin said. “It has been a life-enhancing experience and I feel very lucky to have taken part in this amazing opportunity.”

Georgia’s unforgettable year studying in the USA

Georgia Fidler a third year Interior Design student, spent a year studying at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. Below she shares her experience of living, studying and travelling in the United States.

How did you find out about studying abroad and what made you want to do it? 

Since my first open day at the university, DMU Global, and everything they offer, was a huge influence in me deciding to study at DMU. The opportunities they offer stuck with me at the back of my mind right until my second year, when I had to decide whether I wanted to make the most of a possible sandwich year between my studies, or simply carry on with my third year. I had no reason not to study abroad, so I looked more into it and realised it was something that would be so beneficial to me – personally and academically. 

Tell us a bit about Weber State University, Ogden city and the state of Utah

Weber State University is in Ogden, which is North of Salt Lake City, in Utah. Just like the rest of the state, Weber’s campus is surrounded by a stunning range of mountains – evidently different from DMU’s city footprint. Utah has a population of around 3.3 million, and there are a lot of activities to make the most of, including hiking, skiing, and, famously, exploring National Parks. As well as everything the state had to offer, Weber State itself offered a multitude of exciting events, the most prominent being the football and basketball games – go Wildcats!

What kind of accommodation did you stay in

Weber State provided a range of accommodation options – both on-campus and nearby. As I was moving to a completely new country, I decided to stay on campus – in a shared dorm with my own room. This way I could be in the centre of the community and really get involved in the Wildcat life. I made so many great connections by staying on campus and what’s better is each accommodation offered meal plans, so everything I needed was right at my feet. It also meant I didn’t have to walk far in the deep snow!

Favourite place that you visited whilst you were there? 

I was lucky enough to become very close to one of my roommates and her family. They really looked out for me whilst I was there, which I am still extremely grateful for, and they were kind enough in making sure I got to see every aspect of Utah. For Easter break they took me to St. George, a city in Utah close to the Arizona border, south of Ogden and Salt Lake City. This was by far one of my favourite places I visited in Utah. Despite being in the same state, it felt like we were in a completely different country, it felt very tropical. There were palm trees and red rock everywhere, and what’s better… High School Musical 2 was filmed here!  

What did you find most challenging in your year abroad? 

As you can imagine, moving to a new country alone comes with a lot of ups and downs, but one of the most challenging aspects I encountered whilst away was coping with the time difference between Utah and England. Utah is 7 hours behind time in England, which meant it was difficult to just pick up the phone and call my folks back home – of course they would’ve answered but I didn’t want to call them at 3am to tell them I tried a new food or that it was snowing! 

What was the funniest moment during your experience? 

I laughed a lot whilst out there, especially with my roommates. But perhaps the funniest moment was dressing up as the Scooby-Doo gang for Halloween. Making an appearance as Velma, alongside my roommates Daphne, Shaggy and, of course, Scooby-Doo was a hilarious way to spend my first American Halloween. I have to say, we pulled it off very well and going for ice cream afterwards (yes, we actually went and sat in a public restaurant) was the cherry on top – we certainly helped make a lot of people laugh that night.

What was your most memorable experience whilst abroad?

Again, there is a lot to choose from, but if were going off what I remember feeling in that very moment, it’ll have to be when I first saw the Grand Canyon. We took a road trip in Fall Break to a variety of National Parks around Utah, and the Grand Canyon was on the list of destinations. Myself and my friends, who were also not local to Utah, were extremely excited for the trip, but our breaths were taken away the moment we witnessed the sheer beauty of the Canyon – and I still remember that very feeling a year later. 

What benefits have you noticed so far after returning to DMU from your exchange?

I didn’t realise just how much my study abroad year was going to benefit me. I have noticed that I have a greater passion for my degree since returning – perhaps because I experienced a new perspective of the subject. It has also become evident that I am so much more confident in public speaking and even more independent than I was before. I am sure that in a few years’ time, I will still be experiencing even more benefits! If there are no reasons for you to not go on a study abroad year, then don’t even think about it – just do it!

Sian’s employability and cultural experience in Vietnam

Sian is current second year Computer Games Programme student, and in November 2022 she went to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for a weeklong DMU Global trip focused on employability and Vietnamese culture. She shared her thoughts with us about her time in South East Asia…

Why did you decide to travel abroad with DMU Global?

I’d always wanted to go on a DMU Global experience, and it was a key factor in choosing to come to DMU. I’ve never been to Asia before and when I saw the Vietnam trip, I thought it was a great opportunity and affordable, due to the generous funding offered by the University. 

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

I had travelled abroad before and enjoy travelling, but the culture of Vietnam compared to the UK is very different and going with the guidance and support of DMU and Pagoda Projects helped reassure me. Going solo would’ve been very intimidating and watching YouTube videos could only do so much to prepare me. Having the local guides and expertise in-country made the transition and integration much easier.

Did you notice any cultural differences whilst abroad, that you needed to adapt to?

Basic things such as crossing a road in Vietnam was a challenge as the vehicles come at you from all directions, but you learn to adapt and almost enjoy the experience. From spending time in Vietnam, I also learnt more about the community-focused nature of their society and how people are much less individualistic. People tended to mix more, and there was a communal aspect to how people socialised and spent time outside together.

The other thing that I need to adapt to was how in the marketplace it’s acceptable to haggle, as this is not something we do in the UK. I learnt that you had to firm when making an offer, but also not focus on just one stall as you may be able to negotiate a better price elsewhere. Understanding that the seller wanted a deal, gave you the advantage in the negotiation. 

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

I want to spend a year studying abroad after my second year of studies. After these kinds of experiences, I feel like I can adapt to different cultures and environments more easily. I think that spending a longer time overseas will help enrich my studies and make me more culturally aware as well. 

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

I would recommend other students to apply as the trips are well organised and by travelling as a group with other students and staff you have the safety net and support from the University. This support helps remove any stress, and it allows you to enjoy the experience.

Emily’s year abroad studying in the USA

Emily Haisman is a third-year student at DMU currently studying Psychology. She shared her experience of studying at Northern Kentucky University in the USA.

I knew travelling and spending a year on exchange was something I wanted to do and when I was applying to DMU I wanted to make sure that was an option. Because of COVID I had been a bit unsure about moving overseas.

But it was when I was looking at housing for my final year at DMU that I thought ‘I just have to apply’. When I was younger I’d see American colleges on film and watch videos of American campus life on social media and it was something I really wanted to experience.

I applied for one US university and I was waiting and waiting to hear back. Then at the final minute the university decided, because of COVID, that they were not going to allow overseas students to travel there.

I was devastated and it was a stressful 24 hours but DMU Global got in touch and said there was a space at the Northern Kentucky University (NKU) and did I want to go?

The DMU Global team and NKU made things very easy for me. I arrived at the end of August 2021. The first thing that hit me was how much warmer it was. I didn’t expect that. And the people were so helpful. I already knew who my room mates would be and so that was all fine. I arrived a week into term so lectures were already underway, which meant the campus was busy and I could hit the ground running.

There were so many events happening and I really liked the teaching in Psychology. It felt like I was back in school in a way. I was so used to big classes and lectures but at NKU groups were a lot smaller and it was just like the films I had seen about American high school  – with the one arm flip down desks and all the professors knowing your name.

It was a lot more intimate and it meant I made friends a lot more quickly. When I walked through campus every day there were people everywhere saying ‘hi’. It was so friendly.

The international students had trips arranged during the year. I went on a spring break trip to the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee with South Americans, Asians and Europeans and it meant we all cooked different foods I had never tried before. It was a great experience.

Sport on campus was also an eye opener. We went to watch the NKU Norse basketball team play at the arena (which holds 10,000 people) and tickets were free. They were playing their rivals from the University of Cincinnati and weren’t expected to win. The campus is alcohol free but this was a huge game and so there were tailgate parties in the car park. NKU won and I had never seen scenes like it.

I made a best friend, Kayla, who is now here at DMU on exchange. She was one of my room mates and for the Labor Day holiday in September I went to her family’s lakeside retreat and went on their boat – it was incredible. I also went to Frat Parties and celebrated Halloween – I went as a student from Ravenclaw in Harry Potter. I stayed at Kayla’s house a few more times and now the roles have reversed. She has been to see my family in Milton Keynes and we have had trips to London together. She is a friend for life.

I would say to any student considering an exchange to go for it. I had to take funding the trip into consideration and think about how much I could spend each day, but it is manageable. It is by no means cheap to go to the US. But it is not as much as people might think.

My family and friends have certainly seen a change in me since I got back in the summer. They can see I am more confident and after a year at NKU I seem to be an even happier person.

Rumbie’s exchange year in Switzerland

Final year Law student Rumbie Makonise, spent a year studying Law at the University of Lucerne in Switzerland, and shared her story with DMU Global.

Switzerland is really advanced, everything is really clean, people are well organised and the public transport is good.

I always knew I was going to go on exchange even before I joined DMU. I am studying Law and the first two years were spent in lockdown so I had only had an on-campus experience for a couple of months.

I had a choice of four universities to study Law for a year. I didn’t want to go to Germany, France or Cyprus so I chose Switzerland. To be honest I was apprehensive. People were saying ‘why Switzerland’. Even the Swiss asked what I was doing there! But it turned out to be the best thing I have ever done.

Because I had not been on a university campus due to COVID I think I was like a stereotypical Brit abroad and was going out quite a lot. But then other students – most of them were aged 23 or above – were really mature and had a great work ethic. It rubbed off on me.

There were just two faculties and about 4,000 students and they were so hard working. Everyone I knew went to the library from 8am to 6pm with lectures in between. I watched other people so I could learn what to do and how to work.

Sometimes the work was intense but this work ethic has helped me out no end. I am so much more focussed and really know how to handle a work load. I am definitely a different person.

Since I returned my friends have said ‘what happened to Rumbie’ and ‘you have definitely changed’. I have certainly matured. People do say that going on an exchange does that to you. I am living proof of that!

I am pretty good at advocacy work and there was a specialist Moot Court I applied to study in.

When I started, I was the worst student there. I was coming from a Common Law background and Switzerland was very much about Civil Law. In fact, my professor told me he expected nothing from me.

But then, when he and my peers helped me out, by the time we reached the advocacy lectures I came to life. We entered a competition for the best Moot Court in Europe and I was in a team of three chosen to represent the university in Barcelona. We did not win but it was a great bonding experience and we were so proud about how we had worked as a team.

You never know who you are going to meet on exchange. Myself and another DMU student, Hope Abraham, teamed up with an American friend I had met and started a business called Heruno [it involves a portable coat and bag hook that can hang from anywhere on your travels which is embellished with personal designs].

I made a best friend who was an intellectual property lawyer and he showed me how I can become a businesswoman as well as a lawyer and he influenced me to get into Intellectual property law. I also did some work experience at his firm.

Law students might think these types of exchange trips are not relevant to them. But you just never know what experiences you are going to be given. It is the best thing I have ever done.

Joe’s experience studying in Seoul, South Korea

Joe studies English Language with TESOL at DMU, and chose to study on exchange at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. Here are Joe’s reflections on his year spent in South Korea.

Did you notice any differences in the teaching styles between the UK and Korea?

Studying in Korea is a lot more intensive. We had to dedicate all our spare time to studying and revising to keep up in class. Education there is highly valued and so it is expected that people work extremely hard to surpass the high-grade boundaries. However, it can be an enjoyable experience! There are many coffee shops in Korea and in almost all of them there are students studying hard, either alone or amongst friends. The passing grade there is a lot harder to attain. There is a lot of difficult content but over 70% is required to be a pass benchmark. Online learning is a lot more engaging. Although I hated the thought of my face being streamed to the whole class, it made me focus a lot more on the lesson and remain engaged!

Did you meet any new people?

In my classes there were a wide variety of students from all over the world! These nationalities include American, German, Croatian, Chinese, Thailand, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Japan. Everyone is so interesting and is always nice to be around. It was interesting to learn about other cultures and what they think of current events going on in the world. I also made local friends with whom I spent the Christmas break instead of returning home!

Did you discover and enjoy any local food or drink?

Kimchi Fried Rice? This is a mean question because there are so many amazing foods in Korea! Anyway, this dish is tasty, nutritious, easy to make at home and when made in a big batch can supply the weeks lunch.

What was the biggest challenge you experienced?

Adapting to the fast-paced lifestyle while tackling a daunting language barrier – This exchange has been a wonderful experience which has brought many happy memories and experiences. However, I found myself often exhausted. Just doing a simple weekly shop at first brought a sense of anxiety within me; taking time to understand what I was buying all the while trying to figure out what was a fair price and trying to not the be in people’s way.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone planning to study on exchange in Seoul?

My advice for shopping in a country where you can’t read the language; before you go to the supermarkets, look up the countries equivalent online so you know what you’re looking for along with key words. However, the most important tool someone will need when out and about doing anything is the translator app Papago. It is far better than Google and usually translates well between English and Korean (as well as Japanese). This was vital when doing complex errands like setting up a bank account or organising details with the immigration office.

What was the most memorable experience of your exchange year?

The Han River Cruise! On the anniversary with my partner Georgina, I organised for us to go along the Han river on a boat cruise for two. We went as the sun was just beginning to set, getting to see the city beautifully transition from day to night with the city’s lights casting into the water. In short, it was quite a sight to behold and made me appreciate even further what an amazing and different place we were in.

Tilda’s work placement in Amsterdam

Tilda Eriksson, a third-year student at DMU currently studying Fashion Buying with Design, shares her reflections on her placement year abroad at Hunkemöller, a global lingerie brand with headquarters in Amsterdam.

Why did you decide to travel abroad with DMU Global on an overseas placement? 

I decided to travel abroad for my placement as I see it as a fantastic opportunity for growth, both professionally and personally. Professionally, alongside enhancing my CV, it’s an asset to be able to adapt to a new setting and culture, and show that you can work hard. Personally, it was a great insight that boosted my independence and self-confidence. Challenging myself to meet new friends in a new country was an important part of the decision.

Did you notice any cultural differences whilst abroad, that you needed to adapt to?

Coming from Sweden, I moved to the UK for my studies and then from the UK I moved to Amsterdam for my placement. Cultural differences are always something that I noticed, from different work ethics to food culture. I believe cultural differences are important, they help you to grow and understand different viewpoints. Plus you learn new ways to do things! During my placement, I found that I needed to adapt. For example, the directness of a Dutch person is different from what I come from. What I realised was that the directness in speaking probably solves more conflicts than it creates. 

What was the most interesting thing that you learnt as part of your traineeship abroad?

As a design intern at Hunkemöller, the most interesting part was understanding and being a part of such an established commercial brand. Working there helped me to gather insights into how a successful business works and how to design for a certain consumer. These insights influenced the whole process of the design journey. Another important thing I learnt during my internship was my limitations, and what I am capable of, both professional and personal. This gives me a great advantage in coming back to university to be able to set up a more accurate timeline for myself and prioritize personal development. 

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

During my time in Amsterdam, I got to try a lot of fantastic food and experiences. I have such a sweet tooth, my favourite dutch sweets were Poffertjes- which is a mini pancake and the stroopwafel- which is a waffle with syrup in between. During my weekends I often visited different food markets around Amsterdam, where I got to try a lot of their specialities. I also enjoyed Amsterdam’s famous fries which are found all around the city.

What are the top skills you have improved from your international placement experience?

Responsibility, both personally and professionally. During my time at Hunkemöller, I helped organise their fashion show which came from me demonstrating my ability to be responsible for completing tasks. I also developed a greater commercial awareness and understanding of the industry which is extremely useful for both my last year and future work experiences. Last but not least, I developed my personality to grow stronger with an awareness of my limitations and goals. 

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

Moving abroad has inspired me to pursue further international experiences. When challenging yourself in a new city you create new ways to work and get to know yourself better. This opportunity creates a bigger picture for the future and opens more work opportunities. I believe when I finish my studies at De Montfort University, I will continue moving to other countries to explore what the world has to offer and what level of personal development I can reach. I would recommend all people to do a placement year abroad!

Kitty’s Canadian exchange in Calgary

Kitty Hollet is a third-year student at DMU currently studying Criminal Justice. She shared her reflections at the mid-way point of year studying at Mount Royal University in Alberta, Canada.

Travelling to Canada

To my surprise, I found the travel aspect of my year abroad the most difficult part of the process. Luckily, to study in Canada you do not need a visa, just a study permit. However, this process was rather lengthy and look them five months to get back to me! I found out that my permit had been approved just a week before I left. This made it rather stressful! To anyone hoping to go to Canada to study I recommend applying as early as possible to avoid the stress I had!

Furthermore, the flight process was something I was really daunted by as I had never flown alone before; however, it was so simple! I now feel so much more confident with the whole airport process, and if this is something you’re worried about never feel awkward to ask someone for help. Even if the question feels stupid! When I arrived at Calgary airport, all I had to do was go to the immigration office for them to check my papers, which was really easy and went smoothly. Then I got an uber to my accommodation and met my housemate!

University accommodation
I am currently staying in university-provided accommodation, which is a house with shared bathroom and kitchen. There were meant to be four of us staying here, however it is only me and my other housemate. The house is lovely, and is in such a great area. I am less than a five-minute walk from campus and right by the library! Being in a house is also much nicer, in my opinion, to being in flats as there is more space and feels more like home. I have since decorated my room slightly to make it homelier, with lights and such! My housemate is also really nice and we get along really well!

First Impressions of Canada

My first impressions of Canada have been overwhelmingly positive! One big difference is the weather, as in Calgary it is very cold and very snowy, so it has been icy and chilly. It has even got to -14 degrees Celsius at one point! Another difference is that the price of food is so much more expensive than the UK! Even when converted to pound sterling, my food shop which has stayed mostly the same has more than doubled in price. Relating to this, there have been some food items that I can’t get here! For example, things like golden syrup and Weetabix. Lastly, there is a big difference in the wildlife and animals here. They have lots of ground squirrels and black squirrels, which are cute to see. Also, they have lots of eagles and rabbits, which are now turning white for the winter!

Meeting new people

Since being in Canada, I have gained myself a boyfriend which is lovely! Therefore, with him living here he has shown me lots of places which I potentially wouldn’t have gone to without him. For example, Calgary Zoo and many parks in the city.

Academic studies

There is a huge difference between teaching in England and Canada. At DMU, for my course, I only do one large essay roughly once a month. However, in Canada, the assignments are much smaller but more frequent. Luckily, all of my exams have been open book and/or multiple choice. This I have found quite difficult because I am quite a procrastinator, but it has forced me to get a good work ethic going. Which will be really beneficial when I return to DMU for my final year.

Challenges

Luckily, I haven’t had many serious problems since being here! Apart from expected problems like homesickness, I have been quite lucky. One way to combat homesickness is the obvious, to just keep in constant contact with friends and family. Me and my friends have been facetiming just to keep up to date with each other’s lives, which doesn’t make me feel so far away. As well as this, I am seven hours behind the time in the UK, so to deal with this I just make sure to call family in the evening and keep my world clock on for London! Therefore, I know when is best to call family and friends to stay in contact.

In conclusion…

All in all, this has been one of the best decisions I’ve made and I’m having so much fun! So, if you’re thinking about doing it, I would recommend it to everyone!

Nik’s year abroad in Strasbourg

When most people think of France, they think of wine, cheese, and picturesque villages. While these are all accurate reflections of French culture, there is so much more to discover. With its rich history, diverse landscape, and unique language, France is a great place to study abroad. Plus, the French language is one of the most spoken languages in the world, making it a useful asset to have on your resume when finishing university.

If you’re thinking of studying abroad in France, or studying abroad more generally, here are some of my experiences that you may find useful…

Language barriers

You may think being one of the closest countries to us geographically, that the culture shock will be minimal, at least that’s what I expected. But if like me, you’ll be surprised to know you’re wrong. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you’re willing to drive in! Perhaps one of the most obvious things that hit me was the language, now while most people you meet will be able to speak English, don’t expect everyone to, and you’ll realise this pretty quick.

My move in experience certainly wasn’t the smoothest and the language barrier was a big player here. If you don’t speak the language of the country you’re visiting, then my top recommendations are:

  1. Make are to make friends with someone that does speak the language
  2. Use translation apps, (Deep L is surprisingly good, and uses AI) to help communication with others
  3. Lastly, be as expressive as possible with your body language.

All of these will help you get around when language does become a problem.

Meeting new people

So, after I had moved in my next step was meeting people whom I was going to be spending the next year with. While you’ll meet people on your course, joining international groups via Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms is a great way to meet people even before arriving in the country and also helps break the ice for when you do meet in person for the first time.

This is how I met most of my 1st semester friends and meant I had friends from a range of different degrees. I mention 1st semester specifically because it’s quite common for European exchange students to only take part in a single semester exchange, which meant I had two friend groups for each semester and means you can meet even more people. This of course doesn’t mean there won’t be people that do the full academic year like you.

Academic studies

This is another aspect that may give you a little culture shock. Whether this be in terms of how classes are presented, the expected arrival times or the seriousness of failing to attend. For example, in Strasbourg, missing 2 seminars for module in a row results in the removal of your participation of that class. As an international student they are however a little more relaxed about this. But something to be aware of and may be similar at other institutions.

Social life

I perhaps had a rather unique exchange experience compared to most; I speak specifically of the COVID-19 pandemic here. I took my exchange in the height of restrictions yet still managed to have an amazing time. While clubs, pubs, shops and cafes were all closed at some point or another during my time abroad I still managed to enjoy every second of it, which just goes to show that a year abroad is not just about the activities you get to do but the people you do them with!

Try to make the most with what you have, for example we went on hikes, picnics and bike rides and whatever else we could find. And some of my most memorable moments are from these. Like falling down a hill while hiking to canoeing through the cities rivers to swimming in a lake! The best piece of advice I can offer you is to say yes to everything and anything that comes up, the worse case scenario is you find out you don’t like something. It doesn’t hurt to try.

In conclusion…

The biggest benefit I’d say I have taken from my exchange is that of the progress I’ve made on personal development, primarily my confidence. I used to be shy, withdrawn and unsociable, and while I can admit I may still have some of those traits, I can not begin to explain how much they’ve improved. I now enjoy giving presentations, actively participating in class and made connections with my lectures I didn’t have before I had left. All things I never thought I would be able say by the end of my degree, but here I am.

If you’re considering a year studying on exchange, please take my advice: Go for it! you won’t regret it!

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.

Learn more about Jessie’s experience in her VLOG below.

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 @disability.living.

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.”