Jaime Gomez Diaz
I came to Leeds in 2017 to do a Masters in Transport Planning and Engineering. Before moving to the UK, I lived in Colombia where I studied a Bachelors degree in Civil Engineering and a Masters degree in Project Management at the National University of Colombia.
I am currently working as a Technical Director at ISTCables, developing cable cars for cities in South America. Key aspects of my job include planning, directing, and coordinating engineering projects to ensure client goals and objectives are accomplished within the prescribed specifications, time frames, and funding parameters.
For as long as I can remember, I was determined to study abroad at some point in my academic career. I had a map up in my bedroom that identified the different places I could go and study abroad. After looking at UK, Australia and USA, I decided to focus on the different universities in the UK, as I knew they had a good reputation for academic prestige.
Whilst looking at the ranking tables to see which university was the best for transport studies, I came across Leeds and saw that the Institute of Transport Studies (ITS) was ranked number one in the UK. It was because of this I chose to study my Masters at the University of Leeds.
Studying at the University of Leeds
Studying in Leeds was a different learning experience to what I was familiar with in Colombia. In Colombia, we were given regular assessments along the academic year. However, at Leeds we were assessed at the end of the semester through exams and essays.
I preferred this method of examination as it allowed me to manage my time and plan my revision ahead of time. This was essential for me as I was also working part time at ISTCables alongside my Masters.
My advice to you if you are not used to this type of assessment style, is to be responsible and spread your revision out through the year, otherwise you will find yourself with a lot of work to do in a short space of time.
Studying abroad offers a unique opportunity for learning. Having classmates from all over the world means you not only gain academic knowledge, but you also have the chance to gain knowledge from their experiences and cultures.
The facilities at Leeds are also very good, and the professors are leading researches in their field increasing the quality of your learning experience.
Whilst studying my Masters degree I was awarded with the AECOM prize, which was given to the student who achieved the best mark on the programme of Transport Planning and Engineering.
One of the main skills that I learnt whilst at Leeds was the ability to evaluate each situation from a holistic perspective and think of the best solution by critically thinking. I was also able to improve my academic writing and improve my arguments by providing evidence, something I have to implement on a daily basis at work.
At my current employment, most of the manufactures we work with are from Europe meaning I have to interact with many people from different nationalities. Studying and living in Leeds allowed me to enhance my ability to communicate efficiently and effectively.
I had an amazing experience working as a Link to Leeds ambassador where I helped international prospective students by answering queries they had about studying in Leeds. Through this job, I was able to improve my communication skills as I was talking to people from all around the world who also did not have English as their first language. I also enjoyed becoming friends with the other ambassadors I worked with.
At the start of my Masters programme, all incoming students were given a pack filled with information about the facilities on campus and support links. Receiving this at the start of our studies was helpful for us so we knew who to go to in order to resolve any issues we had through the year.
I also attended sessions about academic writing where I was provided 1-1 support when writing my essays.
Living in Leeds
Moving around Leeds is easy as everything you need is conveniently close together with most things being walking distance. This is great for students, as you do not need to spend a lot of time commuting. There is also a bus service that runs from town into the student area that offers discounted student tickets. Leeds has a very active environment with many students, there are always activities going on so you will never be bored.
Whilst studying in Leeds, I found the facilities on campus to be better than the ones I was used to in Colombia. I loved going to the libraries, cafes and the Old Bar, which is a pub in the university union.
At the start of the year, I was having a drink at the Old Bar with some of my course mates and then I noticed that on the table next to me there was a group of students speaking Spanish. Once I got talking to them, I discovered they were coincidentally from Colombia. They then became my friendship group through the course of my Masters degree, finding them so early in the year really helped me to settle in to Leeds.
There was also a great Latin American community in ITS, I had course mates from Chile, Cuba and Mexico. It was great to have people that had a similar culture and spoke the same language studying alongside me.
Recommendations and tips
There are many advantages when it comes to studying abroad in the UK. Studying in English allows you to improve your spoken and written language. The University of Leeds has many programmes that are high ranking and recognised in a number of countries. You will also have a great time, as there is a very active student life.
My advice for making the most of your study abroad is to first be open-minded and learn from people around you. Make sure you are engaging with different students and cultures as well as utilising your professors by going to them for knowledge and guidance.
It might feel intense at times, but remember, it will be a very short period of your life and you will make unforgettable memories.