"Since childhood I always wanted to go abroad for my studies, but I never thought I’d be able to fulfil this dream. While studying in Pakistan for my Bachelor’s degree in software engineering, I got selected in a cultural exchange programme in the United States of USA and from then on, I was unstoppable."
Growing up and seeing London in pictures and movies, I knew I wanted to visit this place. One fine day, while I was filling out my Master’s applications, I came across the University of Kent. After going through the University’s website – I found the beautiful campus, amazing rating, and great subjects – I applied for the MSc, Advanced Computer Science programme.
I was curious and had sleepless nights waiting for the response from the University. One morning I got the acceptance letter, but I was both happy and confused at the same time. I knew I wanted to go to this university, but how would I afford the expenses, fees, and everything else? I began my search for scholarships and learned about the Bestway Foundation Scholarship. When I read about the scholarship, it was an amazing opportunity. So, I went for it and applied but the thing that was bothering me was it would be highly competitive.
I was at work when I got an email for interview. “What are the odds?” I thought to myself. Considering only six people will get this scholarship, I prepared for my interview. Two days later I received confirmation that I had been selected for this scholarship. The feeling was beyond explainable. My parents’ faces were full of joy and it took no time at all for them to say:
Now here comes the even harder part. It was peak of the pandemic, July 2020, and nobody knew what the future would hold or when international travel would resume. I was not sure if I’d be able to travel to the UK. The flights were banned, visa offices were closed and with no prospect of news, I was shattered but didn’t lose hope.
After a month, finally it was announced that student visas would resume so I applied for the visa right away. Given the pandemic, I thought my visa processing would take months; ironically, I got it in ten days! The day I received my visa, I resigned from my job and was about to begin the adventure.
Pandemic travelling was crazy. It was a very long flight, and everybody was supposed to wear a mask. Nobody was allowed to sit beside another person and everyone feared anybody who would cough and would ask them to stay away from them. It was one hell of an experience. Once I landed in London, I said to myself that this is it, this is the beginning of my dream.
I took accommodation in Woolf college, moved in here was super excited to start my journey as a Master's student only to find out that the term would be taught online. I wanted to attend physical classes but alas, pandemic was at its peak. Anyway, I took a chance and started studying online from my university accommodation. It was a different experience, but the teachers were amazing and considerate towards the students. I started to explore UK and took my first trip to Cambridge and London and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Well, after a month into moving to the Canterbury the UK went into a nationwide lockdown. Unnecessary travel was not allowed so I started exploring campus and Canterbury and how amazing this small city is. It has the famous Cathedral, historic buildings, amazing city centre, good options for food and Westgate Gardens which looks amazing in spring.
Summer here in the UK was different. When it rained, I couldn’t understand why everyone would have gloomy faces as I found it a welcome difference from the heat of Pakistan!
Even in the pandemic, in a lockdown, and at times the loneliness, I managed to get good grades and the University well-being support was an amazing help in such tough times. My experience in the UK is one full of adventures; from receiving the scholarship to the struggles getting a visa – and of course getting used to UK weather!
The Bestway Foundation is the charitable trust of the Bestway Group in the UK and Pakistan. It’s focused on the health and education sectors. The Bestway Foundation is proud partner of University of Kent where it has established five dedicated annual scholarships for postgraduate students from Pakistan.