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Meet Mohammed Khaja Pasha, or KP, an inspiring international student from India who is currently pursuing his MBA at the University of Ulster's Birmingham campus in the UK. KP's educational journey epitomises dedication, perseverance, and a lifelong love of learning.
Hailing from a small village, Chegur, in India where Telugu was the primary language, KP has undertaken a remarkable academic and professional journey. He holds two Bachelor's degrees and two Master's degrees, including a Master of Science in Global Marketing from the University of Wales, Cardiff.
In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, KP decided it was time to return to India and pursue his dream of starting an educational academy focused on English proficiency and visa services. Thus, KP's Global Academy was born.
However, as KP puts it, "I felt like something was missing. I realised that to put my company in a strong position, I needed more than just marketing skills."
KP's story provides valuable insights and inspiration for other international students considering studying overseas.
The decision to study abroad
KP's decision to pursue an MBA abroad was fueled by his aspiration to strengthen his business skills and take KP's Global Academy to the next level.
He recognised that to become an effective entrepreneur and business leader, he needed to "delve deeper into digital marketing, strategic planning, and entrepreneurship."
This sparked his interest in embarking on an MBA program abroad. In choosing where to study, KP initially researched options in the USA, Canada, and the UK.
The UK stood out due to several factors. Firstly, he appreciated the more temperate climate compared to Canada, where "the harsh weather significantly reduces outdoor life, which was a challenge for me."
Additionally, having lived in the UK before, it felt more familiar than embarking on an adventure in a completely new country. KP also valued "the reputation of UK education", having seen "the respect a UK master's degree commands in the Middle East, where I have worked."
Also read: What’s student life like in the UK?
When narrowing down his choice of UK universities, KP selected Ulster University's Birmingham campus for its affordability and "quality education." The recent honour of a visit from the US President also added to the school's impressive credentials. The Birmingham campus where KP studies is part of QA, though his degree and enrollment is through the University of Ulster main campus located in Northern Ireland.
"I felt like something was missing. I realised that to put my company in a strong position, I needed more than just marketing skills."
With clear goals and careful research, KP determined that an MBA from Ulster University would provide the optimal knowledge and experience to achieve his aims.
The UK provided the right fit in terms of climate, familiarity, and reputation to support his professional pursuits.
Preparing for the journey
Deciding to study abroad required KP to make thorough preparations, both logistically and mentally.
As he shares, "Deciding to study abroad requires you to be mentally strong. I often heard remarks like 'You've passed the suitable age for this. You are 35, 36 now,' and such. But, to me, age is just a number when it comes to education."
His preparation included gathering all required documents, his statement of purpose, and CV. Having already completed a prior Master's in the UK, he did not need to retake the IELTS exam.
Also read: Everything you need to know write your SOP
A key part of his preparation was working with Edvoy for his university application. As KP describes, "Throughout the entire process, Edvoy's guidance was instrumental, especially in navigating the application phase. Their invaluable assistance was a huge support in making this achievement possible."
“Age is just a number when it comes to education.”
In addition to the application process, a pivotal factor in making his study abroad dream a reality was KP's successful scholarship application. He shares:
"I was awarded the Early Bird Scholarship for my studies, which amounted to £4,000. This substantial reduction brought my tuition fees down to £10,000, which was incredibly helpful."
His motivation for pursuing this scholarship stemmed from "belief in my educational background and work experience. I felt that these, combined with my level of dedication, positioned me as a strong candidate."
In KP's words, receiving the scholarship "instilled in me a sense of pride and accomplishment. It validated my self-confidence and affirmed that I was on the right track."
With diligent preparation, application assistance, and scholarship funding secured, KP was ready to embark on his overseas educational journey.
Also read: How to apply for a scholarship
Life as an international student
The story of KP, an international student, is one of balance — maintaining equilibrium between academic obligations, commuting hassles, and adapting to a new cultural landscape.
His day unravels early, beginning with a brisk cold shower at 6 AM and followed by a journey to Piccadilly train station in Manchester. From there, KP says, "I usually catch a train or take the National Express from Manchester to the University of Ulster's Birmingham. campus"
Once on campus, his routine consists of intense academic sessions split by breaks to mingle and share food with his classmates. "Our class sessions last for three hours," he describes, "followed by a relaxed break for us to exchange food and have engaging chats in the canteen. The afternoon session resumes for another three hours, from 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM."
Balancing scholarly demands with personal life presents an enduring challenge. KP has, however, discovered several effective techniques for maintaining this delicate equilibrium. One vital strategy he advocates is allocating time for self-care, saying, "When I feel overwhelmed, I find solace in long walks or a comforting swim."
Also read: Look after your mental health at uni
KP emphasises the significance of engaging in activities outside of academia to maintain mental balance. Be it exercising, reading, or meditating, these pursuits act as a balm to his mind, refreshing his perspective. This dedicated self-care time rejuvenates him, enabling him to concentrate better during study sessions.
"Issues will invariably arise; the key lies in how we navigate through them."
Furthermore, KP highlights the need to acknowledge challenges as an integral part of the journey. He sagely observes, "Issues will invariably arise; the key lies in how we navigate through them."
Not to be overlooked, KP attributes a significant part of his balanced life to the leisure amenities Manchester has to offer. He makes full use of the city's facilities, from leisure centres and swimming pools to parks and libraries. He states, "These amenities offer a great way to unwind and take a breather from academic pressures.”
KP's dedication to self-care also stems into volunteering work he takes part in within the community. He is currently volunteering for the Para Swimming Championships 2023, motivated by a desire to give back. As he explains, "I believe para athletes are superhumans because what we have, they don't, yet they achieve incredible things. We should support them."
Volunteering provides fulfillment and perspective, reinforcing KP's ethos that "challenges are there to be embraced and overcome." By both caring for himself and giving to others, KP achieves greater balance and wellbeing as a student.
In terms of cultural experiences, KP found the British principles of kindness and equality pleasantly surprising. "The UK felt like a place of real freedom," he muses, having faced no discrimination based on caste, colour, culture, or religion.
Celebrating Ramadan in the UK, with its cooler climate, added a new dimension to KP's experience, as he was accustomed to the blistering heat of the Middle East. "I anticipate the fasting period to be much shorter when Ramadan falls during winter here in the UK," he says.
KP's cultural journey also took him through unfamiliar celebrations like Halloween and St. Patrick's Day. He recounts, "The transformation people undergo for Halloween, their costumes, were quite fascinating to me. Similarly, St. Patrick's Day was another intriguing experience, with its unique attire and celebrations."
While thoroughly involved in his UK-based life, KP admits missing his family back in India, particularly his wife and two daughters. But technology, he says, has made it easier to bridge this distance. "Modern technology has eased this homesickness. Video calls and chats allow me to keep in touch and maintain a connection with my loved ones."
In conclusion, the tale of KP is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of international students, illustrating the need for discipline and balance across academic, social, cultural, and personal realms, while continually broadening one's perspective.
Advice for future students
For those considering following in his footsteps, KP offers several words of wisdom based on his experience.
On scholarship applications, he advises starting early and doing thorough research. As KP suggests, "My advice is to apply as soon as you can, think of it like the early bird catches the worm."
He also says to carefully review the criteria, as "Each university has different terms and conditions for their scholarships."
Reflecting on his own process, KP wishes he knew earlier about MBA programs with internships or "advanced practice." As he shares, "I wish I had known about the availability and benefits of programs that incorporate a six-month internship."
In terms of plans after graduation, KP is focused on furthering his education and business. As he shares, "My plan is to further advance my academic pursuits by undertaking a PhD in Marketing. Alongside this, another key goal I have is to fully establish my educational institution, KP's Global Academy, back in India."
KP's journey offers several inspirational takeaways for prospective international students:
- With passion and perseverance, you can achieve remarkable academic and professional feats, regardless of where you start out. KP exemplifies this, rising from a remote village to multiple degrees and successful businesses.
- Age should not deter you from pursuing education abroad. KP ignored doubters and embarked on this journey in his mid-30s, proving it's never too late to learn.
- Securing funding through scholarships is possible with diligent preparation and research. KP applied early and leveraged his experience.
- Embrace opportunities to expand your cultural perspectives. From holidays to daily interactions, savor and learn from these experiences.
- Technology can help maintain connections with loved ones when studying abroad. Use it to ease homesickness.
- Continuously seek balance between academic and personal realms through self-care and leisure activities. Don't lose yourself in studies alone.
KP's aspirational story demonstrates that with vision, diligence and balance, your overseas educational journey can help you achieve personal and professional success.
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