About a month ago, I had an opportunity to share my experience in the University of Sussex to a group of directors and managers of education agency companies around the world who visited the university during what we called Director’s Summit. There were 6 students giving talks representing several regions: a girl from Colombia for America, a girl from India for Central and South Asia, a girl from Italy for Europe, a guy from Nigeria for Africa and Middle East, a guy from China for East Asia, and me from Indonesia as South East Asia representation. This was what I presented at that time.
My experience in the University of Sussex can be summarized in 3 parts: learning cool stuff, making new friends and traveling.
Currently I am studying Master of Science and Technology Policy. Every time I said this, everybody replied with “wow sounds difficult!” It is challenging. And so are other courses in Sussex, I believe. I have spent a lot of effort to come all the way here from South East Asia, I should have learnt something challenging, shouldn’t I? These are some cool stuff we did during the terms. In one of the classes, the teacher arranged a mock-up UN debate about Open Science and assigned us with a nation that we represented and the position we hold, either pro or against open science. In the other module, we had a role-play exercise where we acted as advisors to senior policymakers to solve an international crisis about a major disease outbreak. It was really stressful because we needed to propose ideas and convince the policymakers in one hour, but it was fun at the same time. And then recently, we had to create a poster of network analysis for any topic, and I chose to analyse the connection between new AI startups because you know, artificial intelligence is very happening right now.
My course is under department Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU). In 2018, it was ranked as the first science & technology think-tank in the UK and 3rd globally. Wow, I am really proud to be part of SPRU. And every year SPRU creates Sscience, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) Challenge for the students to come up with ideas to address any policy problem, give a short appealing presentation to the judges and audiences including professors of SPRU. And the winners get a prize.
These all cool stuff in SPRU I could learn because of the supports and facilities the university provides me, including the scholarship I received, the help from International Students Support (ISS), free workshops and one to one tutorials from the English Language for Academic Study (ELAS) which is very useful for students who do not speak English as the first language like me. I have a 4 years old daughter living with me here in the UK, and I feel grateful about the family rooms facilities on the campus especially in the library where I can study while my child playing in the children corner.
The second part of my life here in Sussex is making a lot of new friends from all over the world. As an International Student Ambassador, I meet other inspiring ambassadors and see hidden places on campus that not so many people know about. I am also active as a student parents representative in the Students union. It is very nice to meet the other students with children regularly, sharing our struggling in parenting while studying academics. I also meet regularly with my Indonesian friends in Brighton, including students from the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton. I know we are in an international environment but it is good to feel like being home sometimes. Last but not least, in SPRU we also have a very smart and fun community. My classmates are very diverse such as from East Asia, the UK, South America, and Africa, not including colleagues from the other courses in SPRU. We usually gather on Friday night in IDS Bar, not only master students but we also mingled with PhD students and the teachers! They are very welcomed and not exclusive at all.
Finally my life is full of wandering around Brighton, the UK, and Europe. Coming from a country with only 2 seasons: hot and very hot, I really appreciate the seasons changing here with romantic leaves in autumn, snowy in winter and beautiful flowers in spring. I also love visiting the old architecture buildings, ancient small towns and the English countrysides. Master degree here is only one year, and I want to use as much as I can while I am here, before going back home to my country this year.
That was my story. The University of Sussex not just teaches me about technical stuff in innovation policy but living here makes me become a more independent and stronger woman. I believe there is never too late to go back to school again after several years working, and after having a child. Never too late to pursue my dreams. Thank you Sussex for helping me to pursue my dream of studying master degree in the UK.
The talks session was going fine, and we got a very nice treat afterward in the Regency Restaurant. It is a fresh seafood restaurant near the beach. I chose Prawn Cocktail as the starter, Fish & Chips as the main course and Tiramisu for the dessert. I think it was the first time I ate a proper fish and chips in a nice restaurant in Brighton. Everyone was talking how not creative the British to have fried fish and fried potato as the national dish haha. The other option for dessert was Apple Pie, which was more English specialty, but I was not too fond of it and stick with my favorite Tiramisu.