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Abbie-GayleI was really excited when I was notified of my approved funding from the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission. I’m not sure whether it was the chance to study at Bournemouth University, in its prestigious tourism department with distinguished academics such as Professor Buhalis or the joys of finally getting funding to attain a Master’s degree in the UK as a Commonwealth Scholar.

As a 25 year old postgraduate student from Jamaica pursuing MSc Tourism Management, one of my biggest fears was embracing the unknown environment. I was told the weather in the UK could be gloomy, but the weather in Bournemouth is much better than other areas of the UK as Bournemouth is situated on the south coast of Dorset (home to the Jurassic Coast and Bournemouth Pier).

At university there are many others on the same path as you despite differences in nationality, gender and background. You should embrace as much social interaction as possible, just like I did! You may be on one of the university buses with some time to spare, so why not take a moment to learn a few Korean or Taiwanese words from your friends.  You could head to the kitchen with a host of friends to prepare African, Caribbean or Thai food, just like I did!

Abbie and friends

The days are not always easy and there are definitely difficult ones in the mix. Be warned, Easter and Christmas are not holidays as you will have assignments! Then you will not only appreciate your friendships as they will add comfort, but you will also realise that your social unit and sense of spirituality will in fact be necessary to carry you through those late nights. Whether you make friends from Germany, Brazil or even Iceland, or they are from a different faith like Islam or Hinduism, their goals may just be the same as yours. I have realised the differences have not divided my pool of friends; it has only made us stronger as a unit and one step closer to our goals.

Abbie and class

“Inspiration, aspiration and role models”; these are words Commonwealth taught me to live by, which are simple and may not be anything new, but are actually deep and meaningful. I have used this platform to not only develop my interests and thinking as challenged by my lecturers (with this, the library will be your best friend), but also to develop personally and professionally.

Abbie in London

Who would have thought I’d be volunteering at the annual trade show World Travel Market in London, or be on a retreat engaging in development discussions with representatives from over fifty countries in the Commonwealth at Cumberland Lodge where Queen Elizabeth II is the Patron? I have garnered many opportunities but these are just a few which I shall cherish for years to come.

Abbie commonwealth

I can definitely say that I have no regrets about accepting this opportunity which I am truly grateful for from the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission and Bournemouth University. Carpe Diem! Seize the day! Be the next to apply for this prestigious but unforgettable opportunity. The details are accessible online and I am here to guide you if needed. From the next pool of applicants, you may be the next lucky scholar to pursue studies in an area you are passionate about.

Abbie and friend

Step out of your comfort zone as the world is yours for the taking. Hopefully you will be next to fall in love with pigs in blankets, pop open a Christmas cracker or be a volunteer in order to assist with the cleanliness of the Bournemouth community. Whatever you do, get involved and balance your scholastic duties as there is a world of opportunities waiting for you at Bournemouth University. Without the scholarship, I sure would not have been able to gain this experience.

It is the experience from the journey that truly defined me and not the attainment of the end goal.

Thank you BU!

By Abbie-Gayle Johnson