American graduate student Brittany Woodall talks to us about her experiences of London and her Master of Public Administration (MPA) course at London Metropolitan University.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and why you chose to study at London Met?
I have worked for non-profits for several years, until the birth of my son. At that time, I re-entered the private sector working at a mortgage bank, but spent a lot of time volunteering with the bank's charitable organisation. I enjoyed my management role, but knew that charity has always been more fulfilling. I decided a master's degree would be the best way to learn about management in the third sector, and after extensive research into schools in the UK, London Met's MPA programme stood out among the rest.
What made you choose London in particular?
I have been to London several times on holiday and instantly felt at home here. I love the city, I love the diversity, I love the theatre! I love the opportunity to see so much in daily life, but also to be able to travel so easily and affordably to other countries and new experiences.
Can you tell us a bit more about where you are living whilst you study (eg student halls, home etc) and what you like about it?
I lived in student family housing through International Students House. We live in a set of 12 flats, with six families and six couples. As a single parent, this was a lifesaver for me, as there was instant community among the residents. There were always children for my son to play with, other parents or adults in the building to help watch him while I attended class, and lots of barbecues in the back garden. We are able to relate well as we are all from different countries living in the UK for the first time, and adjusting not only for ourselves but for our children. It has made a huge difference in my experience here.
What are the facilities like at London Met?
I use the library the most, which is a wonderful place to study and write. My favourite service is the laptop borrowing machine! My laptop died two weeks before papers were due in the fall, and being able to borrow a laptop while on campus helped me complete my papers on time. For the Holloway campus, if you can manage to navigate the confusing hallways, the classrooms and lounge areas are always neat and clean, with comfortable seating and up-to-date smart boards and other technology. My professors used this in every lecture, and it definitely enhanced the learning process.
I start my work placement in two weeks. I can't wait!
What do you like best about your course?
I liked the expertise of the School. They are all actively working in public administration and research, which gave us opportunities to learn the latest information and to participate in live projects. They are all clearly very passionate about their field, which helped keep us all invested even in the busiest times with several deadlines looming.
Did anything surprise you about your course or London Met?
It surprised me how much the course leader genuinely cared about each of us. She is always available to discuss any question, big or small. She asks about our future goals and goes out of her way to help us achieve them. My work placement is with an organisation that has never done student internships, but the course leader used her vast connections in the third sector to help me get a position there, knowing it was my first choice. She is truly a kind, caring person and has made a huge difference in my studies and professional life.
What makes you love living in London? What’s your favourite thing to do on a weekend?
I love going to the theatre. I try to see one or two plays a week, especially small independent theatre. On the weekends, my son and I have visited every park and museum in the Greater London area! My favourite thing about London, though, is the multicultural atmosphere. In our home town, there isn't much diversity of any kind. Here, my son is exposed to people and languages from all over the world. He gets to see families that look different from his, and to learn about inclusion and acceptance. He's grown so much this year in how he sees the world, and I'm very proud of him.
Have you found it easy to make friends at London Met?
As a postgraduate student taking night classes, I really only see my classmates. However, we have all become very good friends. We have the same goal of achieving the MPA, and the same drive to study despite also working full time and taking care of our families. We also come from different backgrounds, have different career goals, different experience and knowledge, and different passions, so we have learned a lot from each other. Collectively, it has been really helpful, as whenever one of us struggles with a particular aspect of the course, another of us is gifted in that area and is always willing to help. We have approached this course and this year as a team, and that's how we've succeeded.
What are your career plans? How do you think London Met is helping you achieve these?
My career plans are to return full-time to the third sector, preferably in a management role at an international charity. London Met has helped by hiring my amazing course leader, who constantly gives of her time, wisdom, and connections to help us achieve our career goals. London Met is also providing me with the knowledge and experience I need and a well-respected MPA degree to help me stand out among applicants.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your time at London Met that isn’t covered above?
It's been a great experience. On to the dissertation!