The Chevening Scholar from Zambia tells us about her studies, the best thing about living in Cardiff, and her advice for future scholarship applicants.
Could you briefly introduce yourself? (Name, school, degree, country, year of study)?
I am Lisa Twaambo Sianyabo, a Zambian Chevening Scholar reading for an MBA in Media Management at Cardiff University.
Why did you choose Cardiff University?
I chose Cardiff University because of its good reputation and the innovative courses that it provides. It is also one of Britain’s leading teaching and research institutions and has very good learning facilities. Cardiff University is ranked 5th in the UK for research while QS World university ranking places it as the 123rd best university.
Can you tell us about what it is like to be a Chevening Scholar at Cardiff? Is there anything special you used in your application to make you stand out?
Studying in Cardiff has allowed me to interact and make friends with students from different nationalities. In addition, I have learned more about the UK culture by interacting with the locals and also travelling around the UK. I have also been able to interact with fellow Chevening scholars during organised and outside events from countries such as Rwanda, Ghana, Nigeria, Brazil, India, China, to name a few.
I was able to apply my experience and how the scholarship will help me become a future leader for my country. As a potential scholar one has to demonstrate that he or she will be able to make changes when they go back to their respective countries, they have good networking qualities and have future plans in place.
Tell us about your course. How is it different to classes back in Zambia?
The MBA Media Management course is challenging yet very practical as we were given a chance to do presentations to different panels of people on different topical issues from the beginning of the year. The range of modules is good for anyone aspiring to be a manager in different departments in an organisation. Besides class work, we had different experts such as Nick Newman from the BBC and Nicholas Brett talk to us on different topics.
The learning lecture rooms are well equipped with enough space to accommodate over 200 MBA students. Our lectures were recorded which gave us a chance to play lectures we were not clear with. The course also provided a range of modules which helped us choose modules we would want to specialise in and implement our knowledge and skills when we join different companies.
What you have enjoyed most about studying at Cardiff University?
The fact that I can find a library and an internet-connected computer plus recommended books in almost all the schools’ libraries at any time of the day has made my research and studies very easy to do. The libraries are well equipped both for hard copy books and online articles. The staff at the University are very helpful and are willing to advise you on any academic issue.
The cost of living in Cardiff is low and manageable for a student. It is also a peaceful city - I would say, a student city.
What is the best thing about living in Cardiff?
Cardiff is not only a multi-cultural city but it has friendly and helpful people. Whilst Cardiff is a good historical city, it has a good blend of modern infrastructure and amenities. Compared to other capitals in the UK, Cardiff is one of the most uncongested cities in the UK and its cost of living is much lower, therefore making it ideal for student life. It has easy access to public transport and also provides good access for those who walk or cycle.
How has the University supported you during your time here?
The open door policy of being able to make an appointment and discuss academic issues with lecturers really helped me throughout the year. I was also able to seek advice from University employees in terms of accommodation and my academic work. We had enough extra tutorials and surgeries which helped in our revision and gave us a chance to ask as many questions as we could. Having a personal tutor you can talk to at a personal level made this journey very easy and smooth. The communication between the students and the Students' Union was very good, we all knew what was happening around campus.
What would be your advice for prospective students thinking about coming to Cardiff?
The city is safe and has many restaurants run by both British and different nationalities such as Indian, Chinese and Italian restaurants. The cost of living in Cardiff is lower and it is a suitable place for a student.
Apart from offering postgraduate or undergraduate degrees, The University also provides skills development training such as Personal Effectiveness, Communication and Leadership which help improve students' soft skills.
Do you have any advice for students applying to a scholarship scheme?
The key to success is hard work, determination and having a focused goal you want to achieve in life. The scholarship has a high calibre of partner universities in the UK at which scholars can undertake their studies so not only will they get a postgraduate degree which they are passionate about, but they will be obtaining it from a world-class, reputable university such as Cardiff University.
What are your plans for the future?
I aim to strengthen the Chevening alumni community in Zambia and support the potential scholars especially those from rural areas. I also aim to sensitise students about the opportunity available from Chevening Scholarship by linking up with further and higher institutions of learning. This is because I was unaware of such opportunities before I was in college. I would like to use myself as an example as I started my tertiary education in a college then moved to a university and now I have been given the opportunity to be a Chevening scholar. This will hopefully give confidence to potential scholars that it can be done.
I also aim to provide talks at different universities and colleges especially to students studying journalism and mass communication about the MBA - Media Management course that Cardiff University offers, which most of them are not aware of.
My aspiration is to ultimately own my own public relations firm. Currently the public relations industry in Zambia is a closed industry. I have noticed that there are not so many females in the industry. My aim is to help open up the industry giving talks to colleges and universities about the profession. I also intend to have a deliberate policy to provide women with internships at my firm.