18 December 2018
After finishing my undergraduate programme, I made the decision to apply for a Master’s degree because I was looking for something to push and challenge myself with. I started looking at different universities, but I was only genuinely interested in coming to the University of Edinburgh. One reason was because I had visited Edinburgh many times to see my sister, who also studied in Scotland, and I came to really like the city and the people. The other, more obvious, reason was because the university has a great reputation and is considered one of the best in the country. There are a few things that I wish I had known before I came to the university, however, that might have changed the way I did things.
The Application Process
Applying for a job or university place can be a stressful process with many hoops to jump through. I submitted my application just after the deadline. Unsure whether my application would be considered, I called the university to enquire and the response was yes. I was slightly hesitant however, because the Business School uses a rounds system to process applications, which means that you get your response after all the applications in your round have been viewed. At that point I decided to apply to other universities just in case I didn’t get into Edinburgh. Then, the wait started. I received a notification that my application was being processed. However, I was getting anxious because by this time all my friends had received their responses and were looking for accommodation. Finally, almost 2 weeks before the start of semester, I received my acceptance letter.
It was a relief to get an offer from the university, but I regret that I didn't apply sooner for my programme. Getting the acceptance was only the beginning. I still had to get a visa to study in the UK, which was also complicated because I needed a CAS and to find accommodation before I was able to get a visa. In my case I only managed to come to Edinburgh after Welcome Week, which didn’t allow me time to interact with my peers and settle down before the start of classes.
Despite all the challenges, it worked out pretty well for me. If you’re thinking of applying to the university, make sure you apply early to give yourself time to get a response and to get yourself ready before you start university, especially if you’re an international student.
Edinburgh is a wonderful city to live in, however finding a place to stay in Edinburgh in September isn’t so easy. By the time I got my response, the start of the semester was nearing, meaning that it would be more difficult to find accommodation. Almost all student and private student accommodation was already full. So, I decided that I would get a one bedroom flat primarily because I didn’t know anyone who I could rent a flat with. I started searching for a flat online, but I found that they were either way too expensive for my budget or were only available months after university was due to start.
And there was another problem. Most letting and estate agents won’t let a flat if you haven’t seen it. But I was in another country; how was I going to view the flat? This was frustrating because without proof that I had accommodation, I couldn't apply for a visa. The only option was to have someone view on my behalf, which was really tedious and complicated. However, it worked, and I was able to find somewhere to stay after a lot of back and forth with estate agents.
Applying late for my programme massively impacted my search for accommodation. Had I applied sooner I would have been able to apply for student accommodation, which I think would have been better because you get to live with people on your course and you are closer to the university. However, the type of accommodation you prefer is really down to your own preference, and most importantly price.
All my friends who have been through a Masters have told me about how intense a Masters programme really is. One of my cousins said it was one of the most stressful years of his life. This shouldn't scare anyone or stop anyone from pursuing a Masters, but it's good to be aware of the realities. I had a preconceived notion of what I thought the classes and workload would be like, and after the first term that has completely changed.
The workload was a lot—at least for me it was—and trying to juggle different assignments and group work really put me under stress. However, I started to get better at handling it as the semester progressed. I think speaking to other people before you start a Master’s course is absolutely essential so that you get a realistic view of what the course is going to be like. I’m still learning to balance my workload, but next semester I will hopefully know what to expect and be more skilled at taking control of my work.
Mwenye Lumbwe, MSc Management