Sumalka Mendis – MPhil/PhD in Business Management

I was introduced to the University of Plymouth while I was reading for my BSc in Sri Lanka which was an affiliation program with the University of Plymouth. It was the best decision I have made so far as the academic progression in my BSc enabled me to secure a scholarship to study my MSc here in Plymouth. 

Ever since my BSc, I was really impressed with the way the University works and handles situations. My decision to do my MSc in Plymouth was a firm choice and I believe the experience and exposure I gained during my programme strengthened my willingness to choose Plymouth for my doctoral studies.”

Welcome to Plymouth

“My first journey to Plymouth was exciting and scary at the same time. Flying from Sri Lanka all the way to the UK for 12 to 14 hours and then taking the coach from the airport to Plymouth was all strange for me.

It was my first time flying abroad and coming to the UK. I flew with a friend of mine who was also sharing the same thoughts as me. 

The moment we landed at Heathrow airport to the coach pick up location, we were given support and help with our luggage from strangers which made us feel secure and safe. The coach driver was also warm and welcoming.”

Plymouth – a home from home

“Leaving home, my family and my comfort zone for the first time to live in a completely different country was a great challenge for me, but I believe the support and all the exciting events the University organised for international students helped me gain new friends and settle in.

The weather is the first major difference. Coming from a tropical country into a cold environment 6000 miles away from home was definitely my biggest achievement.

Food is the next difference, but the UK has so many Asian and oriental restaurants and grocery shops with all the spices I needed for all the dishes I was missing. I discovered a new chef in me within my first few months in Plymouth. 

Furthermore, the difference in culture was also another highlight because I was shifting from an Asian collectivist system to a more independent individualistic environment where I could be in charge of my own self and be fully independent. 

Living in the UK has changed my views, my lifestyle and me in a positive way which I believe is the greatest exposure any international student can get by studying abroad.

The only thing I wish I had here is my family, my parents and my two siblings. 

Apart from that everything else is available in the country and is a couple of minutes away.”

Read more about students and family at the University of Plymouth

 

“Over the year I spent in Plymouth, the city became my second home.”

<p>Dartmoor. Getty Images</p>
<p>Royal William Yard. Getty Images</p>
<p>Barbican 4</p>
 

Stepping out of the comfort zone

“Be open to new opportunities and challenges and be flexible towards change. Leaving your comfort zone and family will be the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but always remember that it is for the betterment of yourself and them. 

Embrace all challenges with a positive attitude and take pride in whatever you do.

Settling in a strange environment can be scary sometimes, but a positive attitude will help you go a long way. 

Make sure you make new friends and explore new places and seek help where necessary. 

Meeting new people was not usually a challenge for me as I am naturally a friendly and outgoing person, but I found myself a little nervous the first time I had to meet new people and talk to them. 

The University and the University of Plymouth Student Union (UPSU) organised a variety of activities during the Freshers' week which enabled me to meet new people. It was done in a relaxing environment which made me less nervous eventually. 

The University of Plymouth

I made sure I took part in events where most of the time I went in all alone. I found myself talking to strangers beyond my comfort zone. I wouldn’t say it was easy, but I think you need to take that first step of saying ‘hello’. 

I have met a lot of beautiful people from different parts of the world all because of Plymouth and I will be forever grateful for those friendships.”

Feeling supported

“The University offers a wide variety of support for international students, so make the most of it. Make new friends, meet new people, work hard on your studies, travel around, explore new things, different cultures and most importantly have fun because for the rest of your life, you will cherish the memories you make and the friends you meet.

As an international student the International Student Advice service will be your most visited location in the University. All the queries you have regarding work, visa, settling in or anything you will seek assistance from them.

They organise a variety of activities for international students to help them settle in and mingle with other students. I have met many new people from the movie nights and it is amazing.

There is always someone to help you out with whatever the problem you have and I believe they are the best in what they do.

Firstly, keep in touch with International Student Advice and ask them all the queries you have. Try your best to have a clear mind before you fly to the UK and Plymouth

I would recommend University of Plymouth, not just because of its ranking or academic excellence, but for the warmth of a home it provides to all international students and the amount of effort the University puts in to give the students the best experience. 

The support and guidance and the comfort you get from the University staff and academics is what I admire the most.

I have never felt any different being an international student at the University because I always felt like I was part of a big community and was treated the same as the other students. 

The support I had from the University, my academics and all the new people I met in Plymouth was amazing and I think because of that I have never felt alone.”

The view from Smeaton's Tower on The Hoe

“For me everything about Plymouth is beautiful. I would say The Hoe is my favourite place. The view from Smeaton’s Tower overlooking Mount Batten, Drake's Island and Mount Edgcumbe is my best.”

Food, glorious food

“My favourite places to eat are actually the University cafes. Specifically, the RLB café and Drakes because the food is tasty and the cakes are spot on. 

The staff are friendly and the menu gives a lot of value for money.

Outside of the University campus, I would recommend Mr. Wok, a Thai noodle bar just outside the University. 

If you walk a little further towards the city centre there are many good food places – I particularly like Nandos, The Stable and a couple of coffee shops in the city centre area.

My favourite coffee spot is The Canadian Muffin, just next to Subway, because they serve the best muffins in town.

I am also becoming a regular at BabaWok Plymouth – a new Asian and Oriental restaurant, just 10 minutes from Royal Parade. Their portions are big and the staff are super sweet. 

They do delivery so whenever I am having a lazy day at home I am prone to ordering from them.”

Wonderful weekends

“My weekends in Plymouth can be extremely busy or extremely slow. I enjoy strolling around the city with my friends or by myself. 

I like walking to The Hoe and the Barbican for fish and chips and I enjoy the views. Sometimes I stay in, cook a good meal with my flatmates and enjoy their company.

I have always been a huge fan of spontaneous road trips to the beach or random treks towards the hills. There's so much to do in the city if you actually look around. 

Everything about Plymouth is green and beautiful and my weekends are always filled with activities and entertainment.

Plymouth has always helped me keep up my spirits and I find myself planning a day out or a trip every now and then.

I also find myself wandering around just exploring the city. I enjoy finding new routes and shortcuts to walk back home and feel a sense of pride and belonging in the city.

I also like sitting down on the benches near the Barbican or The Hoe during the summer to do some reading or have a barbecue with friends.

The Barbican

I love swimming at the Life Centre, and when and if time permits, I enjoy walking the whole way to the Life Centre through Central Park.

The view of the city from the top makes me feel happy every time I do.”

Events for our international students

 

Holi festival 2018, at the University of Plymouth's Drake's Place Gardens

The best times 

“Out of the many exciting moments I had at the University, becoming a Student Ambassador and working for my first open day was the best. 

The role gave me a sense of belonging at this prestigious institution and the excitement of working as a part of the huge student body was really exciting. 

I’ve had a lot of fun during many events run by the University as a student, but if I am to choose one the Holi event organised by the Indian Cultural Society was the best. Only because I was covered with colours looking like a smurf at the end of the event, but it was so worth it.”

Find out about more about the Indian Cultural Society

<p>Sumalka Mendis – Holi festival <br></p>
<p>Celebrating the Holi festival 2018&nbsp;</p>
<p>

Sumalka Mendis – Holi festival 

<br></p>