MSc Diplomacy & International SecurityNavya Dinah Saji, India

Tell us a little bit about your background...
I am from Kerala, a state in the southern part of India but have lived in different parts of the country over the years. I completed my triple major BA (English Literature, Journalism, Political Science) in Bangalore, Karnataka before taking up a long internship in Chiang Mai, Thailand with the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), a regional ecumenical organisation. This is my first international student experience.

What inspired you to study your subject?
International relations has been an area of interest for me right from high school. I remember being fascinated by the many theories and arguments around state behaviour, and that interest influenced my decisions later on. I was drawn to diplomatic practice as well, therefore it seemed like the logical step to pursue something that was an amalgamation of my interests.

Why did you choose to continue studying for your Masters at the University of Strathclyde?
I was excited when I saw that the MSc Diplomacy & International Security course was supported by the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship. The course seemed almost tailor-made for my interests, and so it was easy to decide to study at Strathclyde. As the course was an interdisciplinary one, I was eager to learn from not just History but also International Relations and Law modules. Moreover, the University of Strathclyde’s stellar reputation as a top university in the UK, as well as its location in a city as vibrant as Glasgow certainly helped me make my choice.

What has been the highlight of your time at Strathclyde so far?
I must say that the department has gone above and beyond to ensure that the students are able to cope with studies and the stress of a pandemic. My lecturers and peers have always been open to assisting me in whichever way possible, and their kindness and warmth make the experience much easier for me as an international student.

How have you found studying online, in the current situation?
I certainly did not expect my first international academic experience to be during a pandemic but despite the frustrations of not being in a physical classroom with other students, the zoom learning experience has been interesting. I am relieved that the university library has a number of electronic resources and provides access to a wide range of journals and databases. The fact that the university acknowledges that this is a challenging time for students and tries to support us in whichever way possible provides comfort.

What would be your advice for people considering taking this course?
Classes are more informed discussions than lectures and so a lot of independent study is required and expected. It is easy to fall behind if you do not pace yourself from the very beginning; being systematic with course work is probably the best way to do it. Taking a module from the other departments may feel overwhelming but it is certainly an exciting challenge.

What have been the main challenges studying at postgraduate level?
The biggest challenge for me was to get accustomed to the new system of education than what I was used to back in India, especially when it came to research and long essays as assessment tools.

How has your scholarship supported your studies?
Without the support of the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship, I would have never been able to study in the UK and with a prestigious university like Strathclyde. I am immensely grateful to the University of Strathclyde and the CSC for supporting my studies and giving me an opportunity of a lifetime.

What do you think of the support available?
I am extremely satisfied with the support available to students at Strathclyde. I have only encountered friendly staff who are kind in dealing with requests and queries. It is quite evident that student welfare is a priority for the university, and it helped me settle down and cope better in a new environment.

What are your ambitions for the future?
I do not have anything set in stone as of now but I’m hoping to continue in this field and pursue my aspiration of being part of a diplomatic body.