It’s Happened to be Surrey – Reflection on a module

Dear all,

Most of the Vietnamese students who are preparing stuff coming to Surrey may worry a little bit what they will study here. Thus, I would like to compose the reflection on a module which I had in the second semester. This module did bring me a lot of important experience which I can adapt in my future. To me, I hope this reflection could help you to imagine how may happen when you attend a master class here. It depends on modules you have that you will have exams or only individual essays or have both of an individual essay and a group report. In this module I am going tell you about, I had to do essay and group report which I think this was good to help me improve my skills. Because, through one year in Surrey, becoming a “deep learner” is my highest target, I would like to look back to myself, in the four-month period,  why I decided to do something and how these processes went through. So from this point, I would like to focus on my own development when studying this module.

In the learning process, I figured out there was a conflict of feelings inside me which were named “up” and “down” during playing two roles in this module: individual student and group leader. To me, these feelings have contributed my “experiential learning”.

At first, my individual role is discussed. I used to work in a visitor attraction management organisation which belongs to tourism department of Da Nang city, my hometown in Viet Nam, and it can be said that my hometown is a destination. There is no doubt that “up” feeling always come to me whenever I think about a lot of impressive knowledge I gained. It can be said that this is more than I imaged before. The most impressive thing which I want to mention here the question Alkmini gave students while I first met her: “What is “table”?”. Not only me was “shocked” when getting this question. Then trying to answer it made me realise everything should start from the simplest, like teaching and like learning. As Einstein said that “if you cannot explain it simply, you do not understand it well enough”. And the important thing that I can construct some ideas/ questions relating to Da Nang based on what I learned from this module. Then I hope I can create “something” in tourism aspect at my hometown, even though it may take time.

However, I felt “down” that I realised I was unsuccessful with being managing my learning process during involving this module, especially interacting within my “learning spaces”. Regarding Kolb (2015, p.288), “[I]n experiential learning theory, learning is conceived as a transaction between the person and the environment. [T]o learn means to learn something that exists somewhere”. Frankly, something I learned, which I mentioned in the previous paragraph, may “greater” if I could create the better multi-dimensional learning spaces. About interaction with lecturers, it took me several weeks to be confident enough to raise my voice in class. It happened because of the little regret that my group did not show our answer to “what is “table”?” because we were not confident enough. Although we did not have full answer mentioning both of table’s definitions like other groups, I thought my group had something different from others. We played with the first letter as the beginning of a table’s characteristic including:

  • [T]angible (shape);
  • [A]wesome (uses);
  • [B]elievable (strength of supported legs);
  • [L]ovely (decoration);
  • [E]verlasting (duration of use based on people’s desire).

After this class, I kept our answer paper and pinned it onto my room wall reminding me every day about confidence and then I could make my own noise. In addition, another “down” is interaction with friends. During a four-month period, I just talked closely with Asian students. Although there were several times I worked in a group with some Europeans, it seemed that I was forced to talk with them to show my opinions and nothing’s more. This is not because I do not like them or I feel uncomfortable while being with them. It can be said I am not a good ice-breaker.

In my second role which is, I think, a group leader, I would like to mention the feeling “down” first.  Three of four members in my group used to work with me in the first semester; then I felt that the leader of the group became my duty without anyone said. To be honest, I did not want to take this responsibility and tried to avoid it at the beginning. Although our choice of research question and method were contributed by all members through voting, I still kept wondering whether other friends had well understanding of what should do next. To get the agreement among us about each part of group report was so difficult, especially methodology writing. And I believe everyone has problems when working in a group, especially using the second language.

However, all these “down” feelings could not weigh “up” feeling. In my group, after agreeing with others, we did everything unitedly. For example, I was not good at interviewing people. Others did help a lot and encouraged me to try to interview tourists. This skill will be very useful to my dissertation process because I chose the qualitative method. I did learn from them a lot of things. As it is usually said that “nobody is perfect”, we are perfect when we stay together. Or in another word, our group report could not be successful with a member missed. In addition, I really appreciate the valuable memories we created together during our meetings, our field trip.


Cardiff trip

Even when we seemed to reach the bottom of bad feeling, we did control our motion and talk to each other nicely until we got the agreement. Thus, I feel I am so happy to have them as my group mates.

I will keep moving on in my life with the new knowledge and skills based on what I learned from lectures as well as this failure, especially all of my “up” and “down” feeling can motivate me to improve my social skills. Moreover, I have some recommendation relating to my weak social connections:

  • Do not be afraid to raise your voice in classes because no one knows what you want to say and both lecturers and friends are happy to listen to you, no matter that you are not confident with your English.
  • Do not be afraid to say “hi” and smile with your friends in your class because you may meet the amazing friends which you can keep in touch for your whole life

Lastly, I am grateful to not only Alkmini and Christine but also my friends who helped me create a wonderful memory in Surrey.