I was one of the Postgraduate Students on the Educational Leadership, Policy and Development (ELPD) pathway at the School of Education during the academic year 2007-2008. I hold a BA in History & Archaeology from the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, which was a really strong motivation for applying to the University of Bristol in the first place. After graduating from the National & Kapodistrian University, I felt the need to enhance my knowledge of educational leadership, policy & development as, while tutoring Greek students, I realized that the Greek educational system is very much lacking in these sectors. Therefore, I started looking for a University in the UK that could embrace this need of mine.
After conducting thorough research on UK universities, I realized that the University of Bristol was the one and only university for me. Is there a better choice than the University of Bristol, especially in this area of studies? Looking back, I feel that it was the best choice I’ve ever made.
I have to admit that, at first, studying in another country – away from my beloved people – was a hard task to undertake. However, I managed to overcome these difficulties sooner than I expected, thanks to the valuable help of the people of Bristol, both within the University and out of it. I still remember getting lost during my first week at Bristol and always finding a nice Bristolian ready to help, without my even having to ask.
The faculty at the Graduate School of Education was one of a kind. I don’t know where to start – with the marvelous women in the administration office, the lovely ladies in the library or the unique teachers who were always there for me? Whenever I needed any of them, either by e-mail or in person, they were ready to help. And, believe me, there is nothing more helpful and consolatory than a friendly smile saying ‘don’t worry, everything will be all right in the end’, even when a really important deadline is approaching and you haven’t completed the required piece of work.
One of the best and, at the same time, hardest moments of my life in Bristol was around the time of one of these deadlines. I had a really high fever, a terrible cough and was sneezing all the time. On top of this, I had to deliver one of the most difficult assignments I’d ever had in fewer than three days. I was completely terrified. I went to Dr Ruth Deakin Crick’s office asking her to take a look at and comment on my draft assignment. The result? She advised me to change it completely and start from scratch! My first thought was to ask for an extension, but the look on Dr Deakin Crick’s face assured me that, in the end, I would manage to hand in my assignment on time. Thus, I started writing non-stop for the next two days.
Two sleepless days later, with loads and loads of coffee, I had completed my masterpiece. Why masterpiece? It was one of the best, if not the best, assignment I have ever written. My learning journey led me from a mind-mapping exercise to a written piece based on the question ‘do animals have emotional intelligence?’. Thanks to this assignment, I realized what kind of a learner I was and how to be an independent learner. This was the assignment that motivated me to apply for a PhD at the Gradate School of Education. I got accepted as a PhD student but, unfortunately, financial issues prevented me from making my dream come true. However, I do owe a special thanks to Dr Deakin Crick for inspiring me and for being by my side whenever I needed help.
After completing my studies, I returned to Greece. Despite the difficult economic situation of my country, wonderful things are still happening here. After working for three and a half years in the Events’ Industry, I have finally found my dream job in a Greek company called Agro-Know Technologies. We are a small, research-oriented enterprise that focuses on knowledge-intensive technology innovation for agriculture and rural development. Our innovative spirit and attitude is driven by a team of people with diverse backgrounds, who all share a common interest and vision in using technologies in innovative ways to educate and empower agricultural and rural communities. My role in this company is to arrange all the training programs and events and, at same time, to operate as a facilitator and trainer. I would like to continue participating in the worldwide research programs of Agro-Know Technologies and to make my dream come true by starting my PhD studies at the University of Bristol.
I would advise new postgraduate students at the Graduate School of Education to enjoy their studies as much as they can. There will be tough times and difficult deadlines but, believe me, they will definitely be worth the time and effort.