Continued learning at Ulster University – Luz Ayda Gomez
“I never felt that something was lacking and there was always someone to whom I could turn to for help and advice.”
Ulster University is a public university with many campuses around Northern Ireland and it is the second-largest university in the country. The university provides world-class learning to over 26,000 students and offers more than 150 undergraduate courses and 200 postgraduate programs in a wide range of subjects.
SchoolApply interviewed Luz Ayda Gomez, an international student from Colombia, to get insight into student life at Ulster University.
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Student Name: Luz Ayda Gomez
Graduation: December 2018
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Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Luz Ayda Gomez and I am from the beautiful coastal city of Santa Marta, Colombia. I am currently finishing up a Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies and I hope to graduate in December of this year.
I have only lived in Colombia and this wonderful country of Northern Ireland, but I have visited more than 20 countries during my work as a journalist. I like to travel and learn about different cultures and new people and adapt to new customs.
What is your professional background?
I have been working in journalism for almost 10 years. I hold a Specialization in Political Marketing and I was a fellow of the International Institute for Leadership of Israel for the Media for Peace in Conflict Zone program. As a political journalist, I was covering the peace process between the Colombian government and the rebel group FARC-EP (2012-2016). Now, I'm working for the BBC in Northern Ireland, which makes me feel very proud.
How did you hear about Ulster University and what made you decide to study in Northern Ireland?
The coincidences of life brought me to this amazing place. I am a political journalist and while I was covering the peace process in Colombia, the Colombian president travelled to Belfast during a presidential tour. He went there to receive advice on the Irish-British peace process that took place in 1998. With this news, I realized that Northern Ireland was the right place to learn and develop tools in this field. So, I researched the area more and found out that one of the best universities and research institutes on peace studies is also located in Northern Ireland – Ulster University. I did not think twice, I just gathered all my documents and applied. And here I am now, making my dream come true!
Did you have any problems adjusting to life in a new country and university?
When you are an open-minded person, it is very easy to adapt to different situations. And as a journalist, I have learned to adapt to different cultures and respect the diversity. Being here at Ulster University has been the best student experience of my life and I am proud to be part of the Ulster family. I say family because I truly feel that I found a family here and when I go back home to Colombia, I will leave a piece of my heart in this city.
What were your first few days at Ulster University like?
The university is excellent in this regard – upon your arrival they receive you at the airport, they explain the management of the university and the most important locations, and they help you with visa documents and if you need any other information. The university also organizes tours of the city and shopping trips and also provides emotional support and academic help when needed. I never felt that something was lacking and there was always someone to whom I could turn to for help and advice. This was very important, especially when you arrive in a country where you do not know anyone and nobody knows you.
What has your experience been like as an international student at Ulster?
The accommodation in the university is great because it is only a few steps away from the classrooms. The university provides you with everything you need: clean rooms, a kitchen, a living room and a desk. The rooms are warm and cozy and there are always lots of friends around. Being close to the university not only reduces travel costs, but also helps connect you to the university so you do not feel alone or lonely.
Did you have a job while studying?
I was working at the university as a Global Outreach Coordinator and the experience was invaluable. In addition to receiving a salary, I gained experience in the area of communications and made great friends.
What is your favorite school event?
The tours to the North Coast held during the university’s welcome week for international students were the best events. You get to learn about new places, the history and culture and also have fun with many friends.
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What are your plans after you graduate?
I stopped believing in making plans as life has surprised me so pleasantly along the way. I now dedicate myself to creating options to be happy. I want to continue working hard in my journalism career combined with political consulting and I want to be the best in my field.
What would you say to international students who are considering studying at Ulster University?
Belfast is a city that has it all. It is not such a huge city to make life stressful, but it is modern, developed and welcoming. Ulster University is of high academic quality and recognized as one of the best in the UK for research. Another added advantage is that Belfast is an economical place to live and study. The best advice I can give to new students? Dare to live an unforgettable experience while you study.
If you are interested in applying to Ulster University, click on its SchoolApply profile page and start your application now!
About the Author: Muneeza Kizilbash grew up in the United States and Pakistan and was active in her university’s International Student Council. Now settled in Dubai, she loves to inform, educate and entertain her readers through her writing.