Nigerian PhD student Tolulope Ijitonda stands smiling at the camera in a bright yellow and white corridor

Tolulope Ijitona

Nigeria

Nigerian student Tolulope is currently doing a PhD with Strathclyde's Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering. She first came to Glasgow in September 2013 to study for an MSc in Electronic and Electrical Engineering. During an outstanding first year at the University she received the Best Student – Academic Excellence award and was also the recipient of the prestigious Commonwealth Scholarship, only one of which is awarded per year at Strathclyde.

Why did you choose to study at Strathclyde?

The first thing that attracted me was the funding opportunities; there are so many funding opportunities available at Strathclyde. The second thing that attracted me was the quality of research and the level of industrial engagement in Strathclyde especially in the Faculty of Engineering. Strathclyde’s Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering is also ranked one of the best in the UK. The University of Strathclyde was also the Times Higher Education UK university of the year when I joined Strathclyde in 2013. I didn’t regret making that vital decision.

Was Strathclyde helpful in the application process?

Yes, very helpful. Strathclyde has a system – Pegasus – that helps with applications. Application forms can easily be filled out online. The system shows that the University really has prospective students in mind. The departmental secretary, Elaine Black, was very helpful, sending me lots of emails throughout the application process, advising me what to do at each stage. For me, communication was the key; all my questions were answered promptly.

Has the University lived up to your expectations?

I was expecting to find a world class institution, which is what I found here. I was expecting to find a diverse environment and have the opportunity to meet people from many different nations, which I have been able to do. I had heard people say that the UK can be a hostile place, but when I got to Glasgow I found that not to be the case; Glaswegians are very welcoming, very nice people.

What differences are there between studying in the UK and studying at home?

The teaching styles are completely different. In the UK, there is a high level of engagement with respect to coursework, tutorials, practical work and assignments. There are timeframes for everything and it is all very well organised. You do your theoretical work in the class and then straightaway you’re doing practical work, which relates to what you’re learning.

What have been the main challenges for you as an international student?

Understanding the Glaswegian accent can be both fun and challenging. Finding African shops where you can get food and hair products can be challenging for new students but meeting the right people will help you get around the city with ease. If you talk to people and ask questions things become a lot easier.

There is a Chaplaincy Centre in Strathclyde for your religious needs. There's also the Strathclyde African Caribbean Society (SACS) were you can meet students from your background. You'll also meet people from countries all over the world at the Strathclyde International Society. You can even learn new languages if you want to.

Do you enjoy living in Glasgow?

Glasgow is the place to be in the UK. The people are so welcoming and so nice and they make you feel comfortable. I know it may sound strange but I also like the weather here!

Tell us about the Nigerian community in the city.

There's a Strathclyde African Caribbean Society (SACS) at the University, based at the Students’ Union. It’s a great opportunity to meet people from the same background and with whom you're sharing the same challenges. It's also good to get the chance to speak to fellow students in your home language, too.

For places to eat, there's Kashmir on Eglinton Street, African Embassy on Duke Street, The Calabash on Union Street, The Experience Kitchen on London Road, the Savoy Centre on Sauchiehall Street.

What's been the best part about coming to Scotland?

Coming to Glasgow itself - the city is fun and lively and the people are very welcoming and nice. What else would you want? You have everything you want here, it is home from home for me! I have even convinced one of my friends from Nigeria to come and study here.