Margarita Damai

I’ve always dreamed of becoming a doctor. When I finished my secondary education in Albania, I got offers from three universities to study medicine, but my parents wanted the best for me. We decided to move to a place where the education, economy and lifestyle would be better.

I came to the UK in 2020 with my family. My parents don’t know any English at all; it was a bit of a cultural shock for them, and for me. I remember the day we arrived. It was a gloomy, rainy day! I thought to myself is this what London is like? It was a shock. Public transport was difficult – I would get the wrong trains and buses and end up in the wrong location. It was very stressful as I had to take care of all the paperwork within the family: paying bills, council tax, sorting out our immigration status. I think it gave me an insight into how things work here. I started to research universities that would accept me onto a science-related degree. It was the end of August, and I called London Met, and the people on the clearing line were so helpful because I didn't know anything about A Levels or transfer points.

My favourite place to eat is Humble Crumble in Borough Market. I also love Notting Hill. I'm all about aesthetics, and that place is a dream come true for me. Ever since I was a kid, I have dreamed about being in a colourful house that I could decorate as I wanted. When I saw the houses along Portobello Road, I told myself: work hard, become a doctor, and you can make your house look that one day.

Education in England is very different to Albania. Things here are more practical and not so heavily focussed on remembering exactly what is in the book. The lecturers at London Met are always willing to help. Even though my English was terrible, they gave me the time and were very patient with me and helped me to succeed in my foundation year. I got above 96%, which was unbelievable at the time.

My father used to be away from home most of the time, working in Greece. But since coming here, we sit and have dinner together. We tell stories of how our day was. My mom is a pastry chef and she will talk about a particular cake decoration that she did. My brother will talk about school, and I'll tell them how I helped new people or did exciting things at the lab. Coming here has brought us closer together.

Being part of the Students’ Union gave me a voice. I was always a shy girl and wasn't that confident, but I grew, learned more about myself, and realised what my values are.

Albania is a man’s world. Woman can struggle to get their independence. When I came to London I met women from different walks of life, of all ages. London is a place of opportunities. If you have a dream, no matter what, it can happen here.

Women are not so well represented within STEM areas. This is one of the main campaigns that I’m working on because I want women to feel empowered. I want them to feel that, yes, we are women and we can make it. We can be more successful in science. We can change the world if we want to.

London Met takes chances on people. The University gave me the opportunity to discover myself, develop, and start achieving my dreams.

"London is a place for me where I could grow in the best way possible. I felt so much more comfortable just being myself."

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