Luisa Yax Valle
Tell us a bit about your background...
I was born and raised in Guatemala City, most of my studies were completed there. I finished high school in Russia. I then went back to Guatemala and studied international relations before moving to Buenos Aires to study political science. I came to Strathclyde last August and plan to stay here, in Glasgow, after completing my postgraduate degree.
What inspired you to study your course?
When I started studying international relations I was also very interested in international security. When I was browsing for courses I found the MSc at Strathclyde that includes international relations so it enhances what I have studied already, and also includes international security and law which is exactly what I wanted to explore. I was accepted to two other Scottish universities but this course covers all elements - that was the deciding factor for me.
Why did you choose to continue studying at the University of Strathclyde?
The first time I came to Scotland I was actually backpacking. I ended up in Glasgow after coming through from Edinburgh and I really liked the city so wanted to come back to Scotland to study. I really pushed myself to come here. I applied to other universities in Europe but after visiting I decided I must come here.
What has been the highlight of your time at Strathclyde so far?
I think it is so easy approach anyone you may need help from, teachers’, people in the street – everyone wants to help you. I’ve made friends here too. I think the classes are amazing and the teachers are great as well. I really like the relaxed environment, I prefer this approach as I definitely feel comfortable here. Glasgow is such an international city, I love it.
What specialist knowledge/professional skills have you developed whilst studying the course?
Critical assessment on articles definitely, I wasn’t very good at that before, now my skills have developed. Being on my own and developing my legal paperwork skills too – this has built my confidence. I have to do so much research as part of my course and from this I have found my skills in research and critical analysis have definitely developed. I think Strathclyde is very research focused, which is great.
What would be your advice for people considering taking this course?
It is very complete in the sense that it covers many different disciplines. You have the opportunity to really tailor your studies, as there are a lot of different options for classes, so you can vary or specialise in your learning. The staff are great. The classes are smaller, that is a plus because it feels like classes are more personalised to you.
And key advice for anyone coming to Scotland... don’t worry about the weather – just bring a coat!
What have been the main challenges studying at postgraduate level?
Time management. You have so much to do in so little time. I had to manage my free time well. In my downtime I initially wasn’t pushing myself as much as I should have been, so I have now learned how to divide my tasks and not bury myself in tight deadlines. I wasn’t used to having to time manage or research. Also, I think you become more mature as a person and a student in your postgrad.
What do you think of the support available?
I have asked the academics for support certainly. When you are a foreign student it’s good to know that there is support there for you, whatever you may need. I asked for support and guidance on pursuing a PhD, to ask how you could get into the programme, and how PhD funding and research works. I would like to continue here to do my PhD. The plan is to continue studying human trafficking and human rights violations in women, focusing on Guatemala.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I want to focus on my PhD, I want to find a job in an NGO or international organisation. I would also like to continue my research in Latin American studies.