My education background is in psychology, but when I was doing my undergrad I had experience working with other undergraduate students as a peer mentor and also working in an advising office. I got really hands-on experience knowing what it feels like to help undergraduates and to support them with their academic work – that’s what got me interested in the field of educational counselling.
To have the background of working with international students, some of whom might not have English as a first language, is valuable in my area. My course really focuses on how to use specific counselling and helping skills in an educational setting and that’s what I think is so important to have in education, especially if you have students who come from different backgrounds. They’re there at university and they want to be there, they want to learn and they want to get a degree, so to support them in any way possible, I think, is one of the most important aspects of university support. That’s what led me to this degree – to know that was a priority in this programme. I could tell by just speaking to the tutors before I even started that they were really passionate about this programme and that was such an important area of education. That solidified the decision to come here for me. The collaborative nature of this course is just amazing. To really talk about these student well-being issues and have people who feel the same way you do about that same area, and are just are passionate, is so cool and so rewarding.
I realise now that counselling is not as easy as it looks. I think there’s always a stigma attached to counselling; people say ‘oh, it’s just listening to somebody’. But it’s a lot more than that. You have to try your best to be empathetic with somebody whose shoes you might never otherwise imagine walking in. What I’ve experienced on this course has really solidified that I want to go into higher education and support students. I think Bristol is one of the most interesting cities I’ve ever lived in. They’re friendly here; everyone’s welcoming to every cultural background. The experience on my course and the experience of living in Bristol are all tied into one.