Uthsara Dissanayake

When choosing where to study navigation and maritime science, the University of Plymouth was a clear choice for Uthsara Dissanayake. He was impressed by its world-leading research and expertise. 
Moving from his native Sri Lanka, he quickly became involved in activities to help settle into the UK, and is proud that the city and its offerings are some of the best in the world.
“One of the first things I did was visit the Barbican, and the sunset was just spectacular. The people are friendly across the city and it just feels like a world of opportunity.”

Currently in his second year, Uthsara devotes his spare time to helping other international students understand what it’s like to be in Plymouth. 

In his role as a Unibuddy ambassador, he’s already spoken to prospective students from India, Gibraltar, China and Sri Lanka, as well as many in the UK. 
He’s also provided reassurance to science and engineering students as a call handler during clearing, ensuring they know the pathways available to make their future happen. 
In addition, he supports international students already at the University through an initiative known as Global Plymouth, which seeks to unite international students and the wider community as one celebratory, diverse population. 
Uthsara Dissanayake
Uthsara Dissanayake
Usthara Dissanayake
Usthara Dissanayake 

Global Plymouth hosts monthly international dinners on campus, with the most recent event welcoming 120 people of more than 60 different nationalities. 

As well as helping out there, Uthsara is part of a team putting on community events, film screenings, and talks on topical issues. 
With a love of culture, he undertook an internship with The Arts Institute at the University to work on violin and orchestral concerts and as an invigilator for exhibitions at the Levinsky Gallery. 
Uthsara is also part of Student Action for Refugees – the Plymouth arm of a national student-led initiative to support refugees and asylum seekers in the city. 

I know how overwhelming it is to come to a new country with no idea of the culture, so it’s really important to me to help others feel at home.

The beauty of being in Plymouth is that it’s friendly, it’s a busy city without being too full on, nearly everything is in walking distance so you can get around it easily, and it’s got an amazing location – there’s nothing like being by the sea.
And the sea is very much where he hopes his career will take him. Studying navigation and maritime science will enable Uthsara to serve on cargo and container ships and, with his third year set to be a placement year at sea, he could travel anywhere in the world. 
“One day I may even go into maritime law and/or business. The area is always changing and with access to the ship simulator at the University, I’m getting hands-on experience for a career with lots of opportunity. Our lecturers are often speaking at international events on maritime and navigation so I know I’m being taught by some of the best in the world. 

“It’s not always easy being an international student, but I love the opportunities I’ve had here in Plymouth and I’m really passionate about helping others find theirs.”

Celebrating our international students 

The University is celebrating its vibrant community in a new event known as Colours for Scholars.
Taking place on International Students' Day, 17 November, the event sees staff, students and the wider community wear bright colours to mark the vibrancy and strength that our students bring.
Visit the Events Calendar for full details on how to take part
Colours for Scholars
ship simulator