BA History and Archaeology
2015 recipient of Santander scholarship
Fernanda Costa’s taste for travel began when she completed her final year of high school in Kansas. The exchange not only helped the Brazilian student polish her (already excellent) English skills, but also broadened her horizon, inspiring her to follow an international education pathway.
As for her interest in history, that began much earlier, in fact ever since her childhood when her grandfather told her stories of medieval Europe and the ancient histories of Egypt, Greece and Asia. Pinpointing England as an ideal place to study history at university, Fernanda search on the UCAS website led her to find Birkbeck’s BA History and Archaeology.
Flash forward a handful of months, and Fernanda is now happily studying away at the college and living in student accommodation in the heart of Marylebone with four other young women, and even finding time to hold down a part-time job as a waitress at Savoir Faire on Oxford Street.
Hi Fernanda. Now that you’re here, how are you finding the Birkbeck experience?
‘I’m really enjoying my lectures. At first I wasn’t keen on the seminars because I don’t like speaking up, but now I enjoy the discussions. I’m talking much more in class than I used to. At first I didn’t think I was clever enough but I feel like I understand the readings a lot better now so that has helped my confidence.’
What is the makeup of your classes?
‘There’s a real mix. There are people of all sorts of ages – from my age, some are a bit younger, and some who are much older which is really nice because they have so much more life experience. I find that listening to what other people have to say is really mind-opening because hearing different points of view helps you rethink your own.’
How did it feel to be chosen for the Birkbeck’s Santander scholarship?
‘I was so happy because I really needed it. It meant that I could take the opportunity I wanted to study here. That was the best feeling ever. I felt like I had really accomplished something.’
What did the scholarship application process involve?
‘For part of it I wrote an essay saying why I deserved a scholarship. I struggled at first with writing it, and I said how I wasn’t even sure if I deserved it; the only thing I knew was that I really wanted it.’
Outside of your studies, what else have you enjoyed experiencing in London?
‘Definitely looking at the older buildings. I haven’t done much of the tourist things but, but I recently visited Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. I like going to parks as well – I like walking everywhere. And I love the architecture, it’s so interesting how long buildings have been there.’
What are you plans for after the undergraduate degree? A Master’s?
‘Yes maybe, I would like to specialise in one area. I used to always think about specialising in ancient Egypt, but right now I really like Eastern history, and I’m also loving medieval society, so I’m not sure anymore.’
What advice would you give other prospective students thinking of coming here?
‘Firstly, you need to know that it will make you happy to live and study in a different country. It’s very different to go to university here than back in Brazil. Here it’s so good it’s unreal. You feel like you are getting so much.’