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My Journey from MA to PhD

MA Student, soon to be PhD student, Hui Sun has written a blog about her journey so far.

Written by PhD Student Hui Sun

London, I’m coming back! Birkbeck, I’m coming back!

Having made every effort for the SSHP research studentship and been praying for it every day, I still can’t believe that I got it finally… Yes, it means I can come back to do PhD at Birkbeck without worrying about the expensive tuition fees and high cost of living here!

Two years ago, I came here from Beijing to study for a master’s degree as an exchange student. Honestly, I was super lucky to catch the collaborative programme of Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) with Birkbeck, through which I was able to work on two master’s degrees of both universities at the same time. So yes, a new adventure in this fantastic kingdom began…

At the very beginning I was surprised that we’re only required to take four main courses, because in BIT it’s more than doubled. But soon I started to thank god! Though each class just took one and a half hours, I needed to spend hours or even days to get prepared and to review… let alone those huge essay assignments at the end. I’m sure everyone who has gone through this learning style gets a clear idea of “independence”.

Wait, it’s not the best part yet. Since each course showed up as a collection of popular issues in a certain field, students got chance to taste various topics and pick their favourite ones to dig deep. Plus, thanks to the diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences of students, there’s never been lack of fascinating ideas and enlightening discussions. It felt amazing to take courses like TESOL and Professional Development for Teaching with experienced teachers. I learned a lot, not only from the lecturers, but also from my dear classmates, in terms of teaching, researching and even career development. This is what I have rarely obtained at Chinese universities. Another thing making me excited here was the thousands of workshops going on every day in a full range of fields and at different universities. I was so grateful to get exposed to smart people from all over the world as well as their fascinating experiences. For example, I met someone who used to have aphasia for the first time in my life, a real case to listen to! I guess London is one of a few places where students in linguistics can find real passion.

That’s why I have been extremely motivated to apply for the PhD scholarship at Birkbeck. I do appreciate that the department and school has recognised my potential and I hope whoever passionate about doing research here will also realise their dreams. So in case you want to apply for the scholarship one day, as you may have been told, the research proposal is the key. A good-looking proposal directly demonstrates your research potential to experts. Nothing else can do the same job. However, you should read the requirements carefully to make sure that you focus on the right topic and have some experts to supervise you. Then you can go ahead to contact them for advice and finally work out something really nice. Without the great support from my supervisors I could never make it. What’s also important is how well you’ve done for previous degrees and how well you impress other experts. Thus in fact the race has started long before the application! Good luck everybody!

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