Alicia Eduardo Pareja
- Course: Water, Sanitation and Health Engineering MSc
- Nationality: Peruvian
Why did you decide to study a masters at the University of Leeds?
Firstly, I chose to study at the University of Leeds because it is one of the most prestigious universities in the UK, it has received academic awards and an outstanding reputation for the quality of education and its dedicates lots of research in the area of public health crisis, which is one of my areas of interest.
Secondly, after looking at different Masters courses in Europe and comparing their course structures, I found that the MSc offered by the University of Leeds had interesting modules with topics that I wanted to learn more about. Therefore, its course perfectly fitted to my needs since I wanted to deepen my knowledge in water, sanitation and health, mainly focusing in developing countries.
Finally, from my previous research I realised that University of Leeds staff are not only concerned about the academic issues, but they also make sure that students enjoy their time at the university, through the Leeds University Union (LUU), offering many activities, in order to avoid stress and stimulate interpersonal and cultural development, and also this university has a fitness suite called The Edge, which has a swimming pool (my favourite!) and facilities to workout and practice sport, all of which motivated me even more to choose the University of Leeds and it’s a decision which I don´t regret for a second.
What has been the best aspect of studying on your course and at the University so far and why?
So far, apart from the massive amount of knowledge acquired first hand from experienced professors throughout all the lectures, one of the best aspects of my MSc was the exchange of knowledge and experience with my professors and classmates. My professors master their subject very well and through their didactic and interactive lectures gave us valuable knowledge based on their experience. Also, they promoted our interventions in lectures, and thus, sharing our experiences from the field and different viewpoints about the same topic with my classmates, who came from different backgrounds, helped me to learn more and expand my perspective.
Moreover, professors were very approachable so if you had any doubts, you could ask during classes or by sending them an email afterwards.
Tell us about some of the exciting projects you have completed.
For my dissertation, I am researching on how Latin American countries are tracking towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), specifically SDG-6, which is focused on improving the infrastructure and service of water and sanitation. I chose only four countries of Latin America: Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Haiti, and the aim of my study is to assess the progress made by each country to meet the targets of SDG-6, mainly targets 6.1, 6.2 and 6.3 and thus identify the barriers that are limiting the current pace of progress to meet the 2030 deadline.
What does Leeds as a city have to offer students?
Leeds is a great city to study, not only because of its safety and peacefulness but also because it offers a wide range of places and activities for students. It has everything that you need such as many stores, restaurants, museums, parks and supermarkets, which are located a short walking distance from the university. Also, there are coffee shops, pubs, clubs and cinemas where you can go with your friends to have fun and relax during the weekend or in your free time.
Another important characteristic to highlight is the strategic location of Leeds, which allows to travel to many UK cities such as York, Harrogate, Liverpool, Manchester, London and among others, buying coach or train tickets are rather cheap.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I would definitely like to apply all the knowledge learned from my MSc and work in the WASH sector focusing in promotion and delivery a safely managed water and sanitation service to rural communities in my home country. Furthermore, my dream job is to work for the United Nations (UN) in any headquarter located in South America or in a developing country, to gain more experience about WASH projects focused in those areas.
What experiences at Leeds do you think will help you in your future career?
To be honest, adapting to a new teaching system, employed by the University of Leeds, was quite challenging for me, since it is far different from my home country, Peru. Therefore, it helped me to develop important skills to adapt to any circumstance outside of my comfort zone.
Through lectures and lots of group works with my classmates, I developed new skills as we shared our experiences and insights by coming from different backgrounds. Some of them include critical thinking, communication skills (I improved my fluency in English!), teamwork skills, tolerance, analysis of a topic from different perspectives, being practical – open my mind to any possibilities and adapt the solution to any circumstance – among others, that will help me at the present and future.
What would you say to students coming to do the same course?
You won´t regret choosing this course at the University of Leeds because it is well organized, has outstanding staff, and has relevant modules focused on how to face the current needs related to water, sanitation and hygiene needs mainly in low-income countries. I would also say, enjoy every second, learn as much as you can from lectures, experience of your professors and classmates, because their background has an enriched and valuable knowledge.
But, also don`t forget about your mental health and wellbeing, use the facilities provided by the university such as The Edge to practice a sport, workout or just relax after a stressful day (I love swimming, so I try to go frequently). In addition, you can join any club or society that you are keen on and go to any activity organized by the Leeds University Union (LUU), where you can make friends from different countries, relax yourself and enjoy your stay here. Finally, try to explore Leeds and other cities around here to get in touch with the British culture and stunning landscapes.