Are you a Rwandan who has wondered what it would be like to study in the UK?
In 2013-14 Patrick Musafiri was awarded the Hornby Scholarship and spent a year studying for an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at the University of Leeds in the UK. Follow his adventures on his year abroad below:
I got lost on my first day at university in the UK
My first day at the university was a nightmare. Many people tell you that the best way to get to know a new place is by walking, not by taking a bus or train. I tried this on my first day, it normally takes 30 minutes to walk from my residence to the university but on the first day it took me one hour and 30 minutes!
For those visiting for the first time, the campus can be a very confusing environment. There are maps everywhere but I'm not used to reading maps and couldn’t make sense of what they really mean, I couldn’t practically interpret the information on the map. I thought I was the only one lost but I felt a bit more comfortable when I saw other British students who were lost. There were many friendly people designated to guide students so I did eventually get to the right lecture hall.
The MA is mainly assessed through written assignments and since the university is a research based university, these assignments aim at helping students to get used to doing research by reading a wide range of literature on given topics.
The university has two main libraries, Brotherton and Edward Boyle, which are well staffed to assist students in their research. I was blown away by the way the whole library system is organised and managed online. Before I go to the library, I know which book is available and which one is not. What is fantastic is that even if all the books may have been checked out, a student may still request them and then the library requests the person who checked them out to bring them back before the due date so that the other student can use them.
In the second semester I am supposed to produce four 3,000 word assignments and I have already submitted two of them. We don’t do exams, we just do assignments. I can’t wait to submit the next two assignments and then walk slowly to the library bar which is next to Brotherton library for a drink to celebrate and relax for a while.
My experience with Turnitin Technology
Turnitin is a web based system that provides comprehensive checking of submitted work for matching text on web pages, electronic journals and previously submitted student work. Before this technology was used students could easily copy and paste texts from journals or other online sources without easily being caught. However, these days things have changed, this new technology makes the lecturers’ job of detecting plagiarism much easier and has made some students lives much harder!
Since plagiarism is taken very seriously at the University of Leeds
and since they have this tool to detect plagiarism, all students are compelled to work hard and develop critical thinking skills that help them to come up with their own ideas while analysing texts from other writers.
If you are reading this and intend to come to the UK for study, you should not worry too much about it. As long as you do not copy and paste others’ texts and reference every piece of text you use, you will be fine. At MA level, students are expected to read critically and draw on other people’s ideas in order to bring in their own contribution.
Patrick’s highlights of study in the UK
Studying for an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) - Teacher Education has been an eye-opening experience for me; I am passionately interested in TESOL teacher training even more than ever. It has shed light on my understanding of why some TESOL teacher training and cascade training programs fail to meet expectations and how to prevent this failure. Although there may be drawbacks beyond control at macro level, I have learned how to approach teacher training issues at micro level successfully.
Prior to several sessions about a TESOL Curriculum, I had never thought about the gap that exists between most curriculum goals and the reality in classrooms. It also equipped me with analytical skills that helped me to understand what drives TESOL policy makers in most situations to suggest change and elements that should be carefully looked into before implementing any TESOL policy change.
It is the first time in my student life that I went to a lecture, not because I have to, but because of the interest I have in the course. This is basically due to the fact that the course is practical and gives me a chance to engage with the lecturer, the content and other students with rich experiences from different contexts. Lecturers engage with students in a respectful way and everybody’s ideas and views on the topic are welcomed and valued. I am no longer concerned about passing the course but I am much more concerned about what I am get out of it and how it connects with what is happening in schools in Rwanda and in the world in general.
Hervé's experience in the UK
Watch the video below to hear from Hervé Kubwimana as he shares with you his experience of studying for an MA in Business Strategy and Entrepreneurship at Cardiff University, UK, in 2016.