Tell me a bit about yourself?
My name is Santa Taimina. I am from Latvia and I am turning 21 in September. I am a student in Durham University Queens Campus and starting the second year of my Finance with foundation BSc this autumn.
Santa with Rali Kassabova, another Foundation Centre alumni
Why did you choose to study in the UK?
It has always been my dream to study and live in the UK. I didn’t even apply to any universities at home.
What made you choose Durham?
Well I applied to five universities and Durham was not my first choice to start with. However, when I read more about the university and the course, I knew that this was the university that could give me best education and best opportunities.
How do you find studying in UK?
As I am an independent student I have to combine work with studying. This makes my university experience a bit different to other students. Nonetheless, this experience has definitely broadened my understanding of the work and opportunities that could be available for me in the future. I can’t say if it’s hard or easy, it requires a lot of work, but it is incredibly rewarding.
Santa infront of the Holliday Building at the Queens Campus
So you are a working student. Is it difficult to juggle work and university?
The secret is in time management as both are very demanding. If you try it, you might miss out on some of social life activities. Also, it is important to prioritize and to be committed to what you are doing, and to always remember that you are a student first of all.
Did university help you get a job?
Yes, the career centre (https://www.dur.ac.uk/careers/ ) helped a lot. They go through your CV and organize mock interviews to prepare you for possible questions. They help find employment as they provide you with information about vacancies within university, local jobs and summer internships.
Ebsworth Building at the Queens Campus
Are you involved in university social life?
Not as much as other students. I was much more involved during my foundation year, however not so much in my first year. I do get involved in my college’s events and I am a member of “AIESEC”, International Association of Students in Economic and Commercial Sciences, in Durham (http://www.aiesec.co.uk/) where we help people find volunteering opportunities abroad. Otherwise, university work takes up a lot of time, especially coping with the all the reading.
Stephenson College Central
You study at the Queen’s campus of Durham University. Tell me how is life at Queens and is it different from the Durham campus?
Well it is smaller than the Durham campus, we have only two colleges here. I think it makes us friendlier and closer to each other as we spend more time together, for both the students and the lecturers. The library is a bit smaller than the one in Durham, but it fits all the students anyway. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same. We have the same facilities as in Durham and modern lecture halls and computer rooms. But even if you decide to use Durham campus facilities, it doesn’t take that long to get to Durham on the bus, which is free for students.
How well did the Foundation Centre prepared you for your degree?
I was actually surprised by how much the Foundation Centre helped me. I didn’t realize it until this year how well foundation and its tutors had prepared me, and I didn’t expect my academic writing to improve so much. I am now so confident in writing reports, assignments and my exams, and also with reading different academic texts. It used to take so much time but now I understand it quickly and easily. The Foundation Centre was an incredible experience for me; all the tutors were so friendly and helpful. Their door was always open to help with assignments, or if something was not clear. They literally nurtured us to be successful in our degree course.
Would you advise people come to Durham through the foundation centre?
I would say that people should not be afraid of the word foundation. You will be surprised how much they can give you and how much you need to learn before you start your degree. Especially if you are coming from a different country and different culture, it’s like a transition year that gives you a chance to be more successful and more prepared for your degree.