My Chevening Journey at Durham

Christie Garbutt

A dream come true

I have had to pinch myself to make sure I was not dreaming. It’s not every day that I get to see a 1,000-year-old cathedral and castle towering over a historic English city. Except I do, and that is my view every time I walk to campus through what is now my favourite footpath over Observatory Hill. A lifesaving shortcut and one of the many surprising things I have found at Durham.

For my family, community and country

My Chevening journey started years before I mustered enough courage to submit an application of my own. Being one of the most coveted and prestigious scholarship awards available to international students, I knew I would have to set myself apart. So, I prepared myself by researching everything I needed to know about Chevening and UK universities. This also included reading blogs and watching YouTube videos on a variety of topics which I must say paid off when I received the good news on the 14th of June on being selected as recipient of the FCDO Chevening Award. I certainly could not keep calm, as a parent, educator, and social advocate, this scholarship is not my own, it is for my family, community, and entire country. It promises to be a game changer, using the skills, knowledge, experiences, and connections I will gain in the UK to build up capacity in my home country.

Why Durham?

When I was searching for a UK university, I knew I wanted to enrol in a top-ranking university with programmes that aligned with my area of interest. But more importantly, I wanted to be part of a community where I felt included, and that is exactly what I found at Durham University. Here, I feel like I am not only a student but an important member of a vibrant community with rich history, culture, and traditions. Of course, with all the modern amenities and facilities of an urban university, but with a landscape that could have very well been the setting described in one of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytales. Meandering cobblestoned roads, historic buildings, lush woodland and the magnificent Durham Cathedral and Castle standing proud. It is no wonder that this photogenic city is a World Heritage Site, with breathtaking views from practically every angle imaginable.

The collegiate system: A new home and family

While quite different from the tropical jungles, coral sandy beaches and warm sunny weather of my home country, Belize, Durham has become my new home and the residents of Ustinov College have become my new extended family. The thoughtfulness and kindness expressed through the numerous planned events has made my transition, and surely many others’ transitions, much easier. With many opportunities to get involved and make connections, or to pursue individual endeavours, settling into academic life has been made more meaningful.

The programme

My journey at Durham did not start when I arrived in the middle of September. It began when I completed my application to pursue an MA in Educational Leadership and Change. The follow up emails, telephone calls, WhatsApp messages, and webinars were informative and reassuring. Durham University always seems to go the extra mile to make me feel accepted and wanted. When I arrived, the warm reception that I received at the Matriculation Ceremony, during induction week, was only a prelude to what has already been an amazing educational journey unfolding among the hilly terrain and state-of-the art lecture halls. That is balanced with lectures, seminars, and workshops that are both engaging and thought provoking, delivered by experienced and accomplished professors who possess the uncanny ability to both challenge and support growth at the same time.

My overall experience

Overall, my experience at Durham has been wonderful and I am very pleased that I selected Durham University to pursue my postgraduate degree.

Discover more

To find out more, click here Chevening Scholarships – Durham University

Christie Garbutt

Hi, I'm Christie from Belize. I am studying MA Educational Leadership and Change, and am a Chevening scholar which is a dream come true!

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