Hi, distinguish scholars, Happy New Year to you all.
Congratulations on making it to the New Year. There’s a lot to be grateful for in the previous year and we hope that the new year brings us more cause for gratitude. Last year, I shared my experience with you about being selected to participate in some global opportunities, the most remarkable being the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Chevening Scholarship and my admission into the prestigious University of Surrey. These, after gratitude for life and well-being are my most cause for gratitude in the previous year. These are life changing opportunities for me, and I look forward to you sharing similar story in the coming year.
In this blog post I will be sharing with you my experience at the University of Surrey so far and how its diverse networks of people, organisations, and programmes are positioning me for greater opportunities to come. It’s been over 4 months of teaching and learning and we are gradually rounding up the first semester with exams and deadlines for the submission of assessments. Despite the top-notch teaching and learning standards, my favourite experience so far goes beyond academics, its in the extra-curricular activities engaged in.
It may interest you to know that the University of Surrey Student Union Society is a home of over a 100 clubs and society across sports, games, academics, religion, ethnicity, professional development and so on. As they say, its hard not to find one you would be interested in. I joined a couple of them, and the experience so far has been life-transforming.
One of my favourite societies is Surrey Model United Nations Society (Surrey MUN). We meet every week on a United Nations settings to debate on issues around Human Rights, Climate Change, Sustainability and other pressing issues around the world. Each member of the society represents a member state and debates on issues from the perspective of the countries they represent. Through my participation, I have been able to improve on my communication skills as well as develop more confidence in public speaking. Beyond these, I established connections with students from diverse nationality, academic and professional backgrounds and developed understanding of issues from a diverse worldview. Members of the society are also presented with opportunities to attend Model United Nations in other Institution and other events both within and outside the University. You see, you never can tell how much opportunities these experiences, and networks will open for you, you just have to develop a strategic mindset. For me, its another step on the path to becoming a global citizen.
Like the Surrey MUN experience is the experience gained from the optional extracurricular courses provided by the University. They include courses on languages such as french and Spanish, as well as courses on Global Citizenship and Sustainability. Being passionate about SDGs advocacy and having gained prior experience, I opted in for the course on Sustainability. We attend weekly online classes to discuss issues around climate change, biodiversity, water, ecology and conservation, Corporate Social Responsibility and lots more. I gained insight on how issues on these topics are being addressed on a global scale and how our roles and responsibilities as individuals can bring about change in the world. I also gained practical experience by volunteering for a tree planting programme I was referred to through the course and in extension of this, I honoured Chevening’s invitation for tree planting activities too. I wondered about the possibilities of getting these opportunities elsewhere beyond Surrey.
So far, you will agree with me that one blogpost is not enough to share all my experience but let me share one more which I believe might interest you. Being a Nigerian in a foreign country, keeping in touch with other Nigerians is one of the mechanisms for easing on stress and having the taste of home. The Nigerian Society at the university presents Nigerian students with opportunity to get together, share experiences and support each other in whatever way possible. The society organises events such as meet and greet, picnics and most recently the Christmas hangout. Though I couldn’t attend the Christmas hangout, my experience so far with the Nigerian society has been such a homely and warm experience. I have met amazing Nigerian brothers and sisters who are doing tremendously well in their respective fields and are ready to support freshers like me. Knowing that I can always call on my brothers and sisters for support gives me the reassurance that I am not alone. You need to be here to truly feel the experience.
To wrap it up, I believe you are more convinced now that I have experienced more than the University promised to offer within my short stay here. And you will also also agree with me that some of these opportunities for engagement are steps towards becoming better personally and professionally and ultimately harnessing more global opportunities. Like I initially mentioned at the beginning of this post, I look forward to you sharing similar experience with me. Till the next post, stay cool, experience more and keep growing. Cheers!!!