NorwaySophie K. Lisland

Sophie, from Norway, is currently studying Chemical Engineering with us. She decided to follow in her family's footsteps and study abroad. Here she tells us why she chose Strathclyde and what she enjoys most about studying here and living in Glasgow.

What were your reasons for taking on this degree?

I was very uncertain what I wanted to do when I started considering degrees, but I knew I wanted to go to university to give myself a stable foundation for getting a good and interesting job. My older sister ensured me that hardly anyone knew exactly what they wanted to do, and that I would never know if I liked a degree unless I tried! I have always quite liked maths, and grew fond of chemistry during upper secondary school, and felt a pull towards engineering as we have several male engineers in our family, but no female engineers. I researched professions online, found Chemical and Process Engineers, and I just went for it. 

What attracted you to study at Strathclyde? 

I have always wanted to study abroad, like my sister in England, and my father and uncle at Glasgow University. I therefore mainly researched British universities; I had not actually heard of Strathclyde, but it popped up as one of the best universities in the UK for my degree. I had only been to Glasgow once before I started, but remembered I liked the city. Also it was a benefit that the University is located in the city centre, close to all amenities I could ever need.

What is your favourite thing about Strathclyde so far?

Except from all the friends I have made here, I very much like that there are so many club and societies, something for everyone. I have tried a few different ones over the years; such as the International Culinary Society in first year, Cheerleading for three years, International Society and Nordic Society, Women in Engineering, and this year I am mainly involved in the Tennis club.

I find societies and clubs great because of the activities we do, but also because you meet lots of new people.

What do you like about your course and Strathclyde?

I like that my course is challenging, but that so far it has been manageable, due to the many knowledgeable and dedicated members of staff. I like that I have a modern faculty department, and that Strathclyde’s facilities in general are really good, with our big library, new sports centre, and many newly refurbished departments. I like that there are so many clubs and societies to choose from, and that campus is in the middle of Scotland’s largest city without being spread all around the city, as many universities are.

What specialist knowledge/professional skills have you developed whilst studying the course?

In addition to theoretical and some practical chemical, process and engineering skills, I have developed communication skills and teamwork skills through many group projects, as well as presentation skills. 

Describe Strathclyde in three words

  • acknowledged
  • diverse
  • friendly

What are your ambitions for the future and how do you think your time at Strathclyde will help you achieve your goals?

I am not 100% sure what I wish to do once I finish university or where in the world I would like to do it, but I am quite interested in renewable energies. Eventually though I want to progress to a position higher up, such as manager/project manager of an engineering company. Strathclyde will give me the foundation of a degree, as well as further confidence in my abilities.

Additionally, Strathclyde has excellent industry links which could make it easier to find jobs to apply for.

How have you found your time living in Glasgow?

I have very much enjoyed my time in Glasgow; because of both the University and the city itself, and I would strongly recommend it to other international students!

What's your favourite thing about Glasgow?

I think my favourite thing about Glasgow is that it is so much bigger than the city I am from, Bergen. Thus so much to do; so many cool bars and restaurants, lots of events on, galleries and museums, but also several parks where I can get my nature boost for a while.

Has anything surprised you about living/studying here?

Scotland and Norway are very similar in some ways, but so different in others which continues to surprise me. You learn a lot about yourself when you move away from your parents for the first time, and no longer have your “security net” in close proximity. I felt very homesick in the beginning which I felt never would pass, but I now cannot imagine living at home long-term again. On the other hand I also thought that I would suddenly feel like an adult and know everything about how to be an adult when I turned 20, which I was very wrong about! Also, I was quite worried about struggling to write and speak English all the time, but that time passed, and although I occasionally Google translate a word, I now catch myself occasionally thinking and dreaming in English which has been a positive surprise. 

What do you do to relax in your spare time? Are you part of any clubs with the Students' Association?

I love to read a good book, and I am very interested in food and wine, and both love to cook at home and to try out new bars and restaurants. My Norwegian genes have left me with a love of the outdoors; and I am very fond of hiking, skiing etc. I also like to go to the gym and I am a member of the University Tennis club. Further, we have a Norwegian society in Glasgow, a branch of the Association of Norwegian Students Abroad (ANSA), and I am on the committee of this. We organise events quite regularly and it is always great fun!

Have you managed to explore anywhere outside of Glasgow?

While studying here I haven’t explored many places around Scotland except from Aberdeen and Edinburgh. When I was younger on the other hand I travelled around most of Scotland with my family. So, I have been from down south in Newcastle (England), to Stirling, Loch Ness, Fort William, Aberdeen, the Highlands and Ullapool further north. I have also been to the Hebrides (the Luskentyre beach on the Isle of Harris must be the most beautiful beach I have ever been to, but I recommend a dry suit if you want to swim in the sea!). I still have not been to St Andrews though, and would love to go there, and I also want to try climb Ben Nevis.

What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to study in Glasgow at Strathclyde?

Go ahead and do it, I’ll give you a tour!