Study Sustainable Development abroad


Study Sustainable Development in the UK

My name is Catalina, I am Chilean, and I have just finished my MSc in Sustainable Development at the University of Sussex in Brighton. My experience studying in the UK was truly amazing. I am extremely grateful for everything I have learned from this past year. Meeting incredible people from many different countries, learning from them, and having the chance to be student at one of the best schools in the country was really fascinated, considering additionally all the tools that the Sussex Business School has provided me through this degree. I am now confident that I have what it takes to build the meaningful career I strive for.

I decided to study abroad because I wanted to live an experience of staying in another country for a year. That was my initial excuse, but as I began to go on board on this path, I realized how favourable it would be to study for a master's degree, and especially in this country, because it has one of the most prestigious educational systems in the world and always I dreamed of being able to learn the English language at an advanced level. In addition to that, I was sure that even though it was not an easy decision, it was going to be tremendously enriching, both professionally and personally, so I left my job in Chile to start this adventure and thus have the possibility of expanding my knowledge.

I chose the University of Sussex in Brighton for several reasons. First, because it is one of the best universities in the field of development studies in the world and I was very interested in the master's program in which I wanted to take part because it was in line with my professional objectives and personal values.

Second, Brighton is a university town with incredible energy, so student life is very entertaining. It is a coastal city surrounded by national parks. Is very close to London and one of the main airports that connects with many other countries. It is said to be one of the sunniest cities in the UK, something that is really appreciated when you come from a country with a lot of sun and need that energy. It has the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen, many restaurants, pubs, and entertaining events or activities throughout the year.

Regarding accommodation, in my case I did not live on campus and decided to live in the centre of the city to be close to everything. I lived two blocks from the beach, next to a bus station and close to all kinds of shops, with another master's student from the university that I met here. The subject of accommodation is a bit complex at first, due to the large amount of demand, but if you dedicate time to it and investigate in detail you can find very good options.

However, the campus is also amazing. The university is in the middle of a national park, with lots of green areas, a very modern student centre, supermarket, bars, which made everyday life on campus much more entertaining. I studied mostly in the library and in my spare time I went to the gym that had very good classes and facilities.

Talking about the type of education, for me it was quite different from what I was used to. The educational system is focused on developing analytical thinking in depth with a critical look at different topics. It also allows you to improve research skills, promotes autonomy and self-management. It is a lot of personal study, and the limits of learning are set by yourself, depending on how much you want to learn and how much time you dedicate to it. Something that I consider really valuable. Regarding the other factors of student life, I think the main difference is being in a multicultural environment with different nationalities, genders, sexual orientation, and colours. This is undoubtedly one of the most enriching points of this experience.

Regarding my specific master's program, my main motivation for studying the MSc in Sustainable Development was for its action-oriented perspective and for exploring the ability to translate socio-ecological theories and technological innovation into effective policies and practices for sustainable development. As a result, I was able to obtain the necessary tools to address the areas of climate change, circular economy, sustainability strategy and reduction of carbon emissions, from an academic perspective and skills to create a framework for action in this regard.

All the lectures and seminars were in English, which was very challenging at the beginning, and specifically understanding the different accents of international students and the British accent, but after a while you incredibly adapt and start to understand everything.

For my dissertation, I had the opportunity to work with a South African development company and the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and Energy evaluating their sustainable projects. Undoubtedly, the prestige of the university and its network of contacts allowed me to develop my research with these organizations that gave me extra value at the end of this stage.

For its part, since the university is quite diverse, it provides the opportunity to participate in different events and societies for different groups of students, being one of the main ways to socialize in free time. In addition, some teachers organized walks, other students organized events associated with their countries, and other events focused on discussing current political-social issues, which were accompanied by dinners or beers. During my free time outside of the university, I used to go to the beach, have picnics, walks in the countryside, go to pubs, and organize trips to other cities within the country.

I think that one of the things that I would have liked to know before starting my studies was how prepared I had to be for the temperature’s changes. I think it was the most difficult to tackle, especially in winter, but clearly despite being a bit raw, I would relive this experience a thousand times.

Finally, it is important to mention that the support that Across the Pond gave me from before I submitted my application until I was at the university was invaluable. I participated in some seminars, where they clarified the application steps very well and some useful advice about life here. Also, every time I communicated with them, I got a very quick response and clarification. It was really a pleasure to always have their support.

Looking back, it feels unreal. This experience was everything I could have asked for and more, and what made it even more special was sharing it with a group of amazing people and in a fascinating culture. In addition, it is incredible the number of job opportunities that are opened by the fact of having a master's program in the United Kingdom. I absolutely recommend it to anyone who is thinking of doing it.

- Cata

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