What Our Students Say

Oliva Sanchez Montesinos

Oliva Sanchez Montesinos

MSc Public Health and Health Promotion graduate from Mexico.

What attracted you to your course at RGU?

I was looking for a course in the UK that focused on health inequalities and how to engage with stakeholders, as it would enhance my skills from my sales background. RGU's programme perfectly aligned with that, and I would have the chance for an in-depth look into one of the best healthcare systems in the world! The course structure and content further convinced me that RGU was the ideal place to pursue my academic and career aspirations, and the fact that it was only a 13-month course meant that I could start acting on this passion sooner rather than later, a lesson the pandemic taught me.

Before coming to RGU, what was your expectation of it - and how has the reality been? 

During the pandemic, I embraced the need for adaptability and was prepared for any learning format. RGU exceeded my expectations by offering on-campus courses, which I greatly appreciated. I understood that the learning system would be different from what I was used to in Mexico, involving self-teaching and self-study, which proved to be a valuable opportunity to enhance my professional skills. The culturally diverse cohort was enriching, though I had hoped for more representation from Europe and the Americas to explore the effectiveness and inequalities of their healthcare systems further. Unexpectedly, RGU provided exceptional emotional and mental health support, exceeding my expectations. I never felt alone, knowing there were services available to assist with any academic or personal challenges.

What's the best thing about being an RGU student? 

The best thing about being an RGU student is the sense of belonging and the strong support network that surrounds you. From the caring and approachable faculty to the various student support services, RGU truly prioritises the success and well-being of its students. The lively campus atmosphere, inclusive community, and numerous extracurricular activities have also made my time at RGU incredibly fulfilling. I was able to study and do so much more at the same time, having free access to sports facilities, swimming (which I hadn't been able to in a long time), volunteering, and RGU Union events. It truly was a vibrant wholesome experience.

Describe your favourite memory of RGU so far? 

My favourite memory comes from when I worked as part of the International Student Ambassador team, and I was invited to collaborate on a video about living and studying in Aberdeen. It was so much fun, and I got to experience Aberdeen as a city together with people from diverse backgrounds. In general, being an International Student Ambassador is my favourite memory, as I got to share my story and inspire people, and hopefully will continue to do so and have more Mexican and Latin American students also come to live this great experience.

Tell us about your most challenging/rewarding project/assignment/module. What did you like/ dislike about it and how has it helped you? 

The most challenging part of my academic journey was my final Research Project, a scoping review on "Complexity in Public Health." With 16 team members and a Tutor residing outside Aberdeen, the virtual nature of the project initially posed challenges as I was used to on-campus learning. However, adapting to virtual collaboration was possible, as the pandemic had shown us. Despite the large group, effective communication and a positive team spirit were established early on, making the experience rewarding. I gained invaluable insights into the real complexity of Public Health Practice, a relatively new topic, thanks to the guidance of an experienced professional. The possibility of publishing our protocol and, potentially, the review itself, was a remarkable surprise and has been incredibly rewarding. It's an achievement I had not envisioned, and I am truly grateful for this experience.

What is your favourite way to spend your time when you are not studying? Why is that important to you? 

My favourite thing to do here is walking on the beach, it sounds simple, but we don't have beaches in Mexico City, so having one a 20 min walk away and being able to listen to the waves for me is still mind-blowing! I also enjoy cooking and trying to recreate dishes I miss and love with ingredients I can find in Aberdeen or Asian markets. The rest of my free time I usually spend it volunteering in different foundations or going to yoga classes at RGU Sport.

What do you enjoy most about living in Aberdeen (city, food, people, entertainment, travel, etc.)?

The beach is what I enjoy the most! I like how public transport connects all of Aberdeen, but even if you don't take the bus, you can walk everywhere. It's a very safe city and affordable for a student budget. When I want to go to bigger cities, I know they are just a couple of hours away on the train. I also like that it has an airport so I could travel around Europe during holidays and get to know more places. One thing I would not change is the long summer days. I am still impressed with having natural light at midnight! I was able to make some friends, first from the Mexican community, which I think is normal when you arrive in an unfamiliar place, and little by little, I started meeting people from Aberdeen or other places, and everyone is very kind!

What would you say to someone considering studying at RGU? Any advice you would share? 

To prospective students, my advice would be to come with an open mind, without preconceived expectations. Understand that the learning system, healthcare, and culture here may differ from your home country. Embracing these differences early on makes the transition smoother and helps manage homesickness faster. I'll be honest; it took me a few months to discover the incredible things RGU and Aberdeen had to offer. While you may miss your family, food, and weather, staying focused on your academic and personal growth will immensely reward this experience.

Stay true to yourself and proudly bring the best aspects of your culture along with you. See this journey abroad as an opportunity to make a difference inside and outside the classroom. Remember, whatever challenges you face, RGU offers support! So, don't hesitate to reach out for help when you need it.

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