Muhanned Kalash (Chevening scholar) - MSc Global Governance

Tell us about the process applying for the Chevening scholarship?
They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Applying for the prestigious Chevening Scholarship in itself was a journey, a journey of patience, perseverance, difficulties and of course great anticipation. The application process within itself was a smooth flowing one since all the steps required are clarified both online and offline in what needs to be done and provided with the designated timeline. 

The difficulties in my case were split into two obstacles which fortunately I overcame.
1) Was providing the proper paperwork requirements: To obtain some of my documents I needed to go further extents to have original copies mailed to me due to the fact that where I am from “Libya” almost everything international is on pause due to the current political turmoil and ongoing civil war and sometimes I had to travel abroad to attain these documents for example to the British Council in neighboring countries to partake in my IELTS exams or have my undergraduate transcripts stamped for me.
2) Keeping my calm: I needed strong will to stay patient in order to hear the result of each phase of the application process and whether I passed or not. Thankfully I did!

So was it difficult? Somewhat yes, but was the application worth it? Absolutely! Because in the end I received the great news that I would fulfill one of my biggest dreams, an MSc in the UK and that was worth every minute spent working for it and waiting.

Why did you choose to study at USW?
Why not? There are so many reasons why you would want to be part of USW. A few of mine include:
-One of the biggest Universities both academically and campus wise in Wales and the UK! – The university had the program of my choice that would help me further progress in my career path & which I have not found elsewhere in the UK. Also the MSc in Global Governance not only gives me the Academic knowledge database in the world of Governance, business, NGOs but it also equips me with rare opportunities to visit high profile venues and meet with high calibre officials which gives me the upper hand to obtain higher chances of qualifying for a job in my desired career path. And last but not least the course leaders had a great CV and experience in the field which reassured me I would be in good hands.

What has been the highlight of your time at USW so far?
Whenever I get asked this question I always find it hard to pin-point one! If I had to choose one of my highlights it would be the following memory. 

When I first arrived to Wales on my first day I already had a long journey to arrive at my final destination which was Treforest campus (3 Planes, a Bus, a good amount of walking and a train. I arrived there soaking wet from the rain, no luggage (the airlines lost my suitcases), no emergency accommodation because all the hotels were fully booked and the rooms on campus were all reserved and taken. Of course not to mention I was dead tired, starving and the next day was my course induction! 

What to do!? I was already stressed out and starting to feel home sick. You might think this is a terrible start and a lousy memory to have as a highlight but it isn’t lousy and is my preferred highlight because of our International Officer at USW Joanna Scaplehorn who to my luck came to the rescue! Yes we have a USW Hero and she helped me secure a temporary accommodation, get some new clothes and have a warm meal that day and gave me support until I was able to get back on my feet and start on my own. This is an example of what the USW staff would do to ensure their students are supported and feel at home, because I truly do.

What do you think of life in Wales generally?
Wales without doubt has become one of my favorite spots in the UK because of its cozy feeling and how easily you can fit in which helped me feel at home. The people are very warm and friendly and Cardiff in particular is multi cultural because you see international families and students everywhere. 

The city is a mix of history and modernity with how the latest trends, technologies and vibes are fitted into historical architectures. It has a lovely nature’s touch to it with all the parks, woods, hills and rivers and is composed of impressive historical sites such as their well known castles. I found a lot of things to do and it is really up to me! I can have a laid back time as simple as trying out the different cafes, restaurants, and cinemas or get my tourist hat on and go sightseeing and of course not to mention if I wanted to have fun I can join in on all of the different activities available from adrenaline packed cliff diving to smooth evenings spent at the theatre watching a performance. These of course are examples of the many other great things available to do!

Although do not forget your rain coat, boots and umbrella because the weather tends to get a little wet & cold unless you are feeling romantic and do not mind a walk under the rain.

What do you think of the course/lecturers/facilities?
I believe that USW does its best to accommodate students well, here are examples of what I appreciate about the university in terms of my course.

-The course is well structured in terms of having a wide range of subjects that touch on important factors in governance and sustainable development. – The classes are not only about theory based teaching, it involves us having our own input and discuss various topics from many angles which increases our learning and enables us to stay active within class and always interested.

-The master classes and global choices talks as part of my course are great because we get to meet high profile experts in various fields and interact with them one on one which is beneficial to us if we are doing research within certain areas for our thesis and we needed to ask these experts a couple of questions.

-The study trip opportunities such as to Brussels and NYC to “VIP” locations.

-Lecturers: In our course they do their best to incorporate active learning by interacting with us, pushing us out of our comfort zones to always engage and encourage us to present our ideas and motivate us to use our full potential with the different form of assignments. For example one of our modules “Global Governance” we had to make a video interview in a certain area of our choice which was very challenging yet rewarding. They use a variety of tools such as movies, clips, audio and power point presentations during class time to further enhance learning.

Our module leaders usually do their best to support us with inquiries inside and outside the class.
Our course leader Dr. Bela Arora does her best to stay on top of things and make sure we are on the right track, know where we are and what we want to achieve in terms our thesis and also our career options. She also updates us with various internships, volunteer programs and job opportunities that are very beneficial to us and fit our course very well. 

-Facilities: Various programs for international students are available to infuse themselves in the Welsh environment and culture and feel at home. Examples are the university social & study trips – All the facilities you need on campus!

In my case I was based in Treforest campus and it has all what a student needs! When I wanted to get some serious studies done I had a 24/7 fully equipped Library available to my service, if I want to get my sweat on there is a big sports center with great classes and sports available, we have a convenience store to get all my goods and groceries and in case I was hungry we have a lovely food joint and cafes such as Starbucks and when the weather gets the best of me we also have a health center and last but not least when you need some weekend fun and socializing you can just take the train right in front of campus to Cardiff Central.

If you need support on any issue I have the advice zone, academic support in and out your course, immigrations office to deal with all my visa concerns and in my case they helped me know all what was needed to bring my wife along.

As a postgraduate and mature student sometimes you need some peace & quiet to study and you can just do that at Ty Crawshays our postgraduate center equipped with study rooms, a lounge and our own café. I use it for getaways and some silence.

Where do you live? Do you like living there?
I currently live in Cardiff (in Roath, Cathays). I adore it here! I am in the centre of it all! All the city highlights are 20 to 30 minutes maximum walking distance to me such as Cardiff Queens Street or just a few minutes by bus! 

My neighborhood has all the facilities I need! Community centers, gyms, mosque, different supermarkets and stores, all the different cuisine restaurants and cafes you can think of both local and international and of course the lovely Roath park which is great for jogs and walks. I prefer off campus living and my apartment is great for me and my wife.

What do you plan to do when you graduate?
Indulge myself in the world of further progression. My short term goals are to locate a job or internship within one of my main organizations of interest such as the UNHCR, UNGC, UNDP among other international NGOs not only to use the knowledge I attained via my MSc but also to expand my experience in the UNSDGs (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals) and Refugee protection line of work. 

My long term plan is to allocate enough experience, knowledge, and increase my network of experts to expand my civil society work via our national NGO back home “Volunteer Libya” in which I am one of the board members. The NGO works on several issues and I would like to see it grow, recruit more motivated youth and to participate in bigger projects on a national scale which will give people the opportunity to have positive impact on our society and also advocate for a pro peaceful change in Libya and not to mention help spread the message of the beneficial impacts volunteering and civil society work has on people and the community.

Would you recommend USW to other Chevening scholars?
With all my heart! Absolutely yes, This scholarship gives you various opportunities such as these:
-To be part of an international big family and Alumni!
-It also gives you the opportunity to meet wonderful people from all over the word and form lovely friendships.
-It gives you the opportunity to purse high quality postgraduate studies and expand your knowledge base and it increases your chances to improved future employment.
-And you get to spend an entire year in the UK to experience life there and not to forget find out how mouth watering fish & chips and tea times can be.

Any other comments you would like to add?
My advice to anyone who wants to make it!
-Have a clear, concise long term plan
-Have a clear strategy and steps on how you want to achieve it
-Start today!

Remember once again the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step! So take your first step today and apply for the scholarship. 

If anyone is interested in reaching out to me for support please do so on [email protected]