Margarita studied architecture in Mexico and worked in the industry for 4 years before deciding to pursue a Master's degree relating to sustainability and design in the UK.
Name: Margarita Cuesta Lopez
Degree: MSc Environmental Design of Buildings
Year of study: 2017/18
Tell us about your course. How is it different from studying back home?
My course is MSc Environmental Design of Buildings. It focuses on energy consumption and how the exterior and interior design of buildings has an effect on the climate. One of the first countries to start focusing on sustainable design and to develop standards was the UK, so therefore the knowledge here is considerably better established than in Mexico. People might think this course is about new high/expensive technologies, but it actually makes us think how to design better buildings using less energy and focus on occupants. Even though in Mexico sustainability is gaining more importance, the building market is still focusing on economic profits, rather than environmental benefits. I believe people in Mexico are still reluctant to understand how environmental design implies also having social and economic benefits.
What have you enjoyed most about studying at Cardiff University?
The Cathays Campus is quite unique; the atmosphere it transmits is of students, staff and professors willing to tell their stories. As my first time studying abroad, I find it amazing how multicultural the University is. The sports societies and events throughout the year give students a way to relax between assignments and exams.
What is the best thing about living in Cardiff?
Even though Cardiff is a capital city, almost everything is within 20 minutes walking distance; restaurants, pubs, libraries, cinema, you can find almost everything near where you live. I enjoy walking through the parks to get to Campus Buildings; it is nice to have fresh air. Coming from Mexico, not having to use a car or public transport is just great.
Are you a member of any clubs or societies? If so, what’s it like to be part of a society?
Yes, I first joined the Tennis Club; it is the sport I like the most and I wasn't able to practice it back in Mexico. Here I can play twice a week and meet more students that also enjoy it. It is fun to have a social league and after playing, a social meeting at a pub.
Also, I recently joined the Latin American Society where we have reunions to share food, dancing and share our stories. I think it's one of the best ways to feel closer to home.
How has the university supported you during your time here?
There is so much going on in the University that sometimes you don't have enough time to attend all the events. However, the University is good at filtering the events and it gives good information through social media. This is how they share information on places to study, options for outdoor activities during Holidays and workshops to improve professional skills which have been helpful.
What would your advice be for prospective students thinking about coming to Cardiff?
Be ready to meet people from all over the world. You'll have to manage your time in order to have a balance between studies, social life and travelling. You'll learn more about yourself, and also acquire knowledge that would only be possible in the UK. It will be fun and you won't regret it.
What are your plans for the future?
After one year abroad, I want to return to Mexico and have a couple of years to practice and share the knowledge I've gained here. I will look for a job and try to establish my own architecture firm in Mexico, I am confident I can help communities and cities to have environmentally friendly buildings. However, I have long-term wishes to come back to the UK and work here in the future.