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Case Study

Svajune Kristopaite

Sunderland, UK

MSc Inequality and Society

Originally from Lithuania, Svajune Kristopaite has made Sunderland her home and chose to study at the University after completing an Access course at her local college. Having graduated from an undergraduate Sociology course, she is now studying for the MSc Inequality and Society and is focusing on migrant mothers, their employability and childcare choices for her dissertation.

I had lived in Sunderland for two years when I decided I wanted to get a degree here in the UK and broaden my options to get a better job. I already had an undergraduate degree of Lithuanian Linguistics which I gained at Vilnius University in Lithuania. Sunderland was my home at the time so I didn’t even think about other options of universities. I applied for an Access Course at Sunderland College, which was great preparation for the actual work at university, and after I’d finished there I chose to study for a BSc (Hons) Sociology with English Language and Linguistics degree.

In my opinion, the best aspects of both my undergraduate course and the MSc Inequality and Society course I am studying at the moment, are the lecturers. They are so passionate and professional in what they do, which is very inspiring. They will always go the extra mile to make you feel welcome, will listen if you need to talk and support you in any way they can – you just need to ask them. We also have a lot of choice when it comes to modules, so everyone can study what they are most interested in. This helps when you’re working on assignments, as you can adapt the question to your personal interests and do the research in an area that you are passionate about.

In my case, I was always interested in migrant women’s life perspectives and how their identity has changed after migration, because it is so personal to me. I migrated from Lithuania and created a family here. Having a daughter winho goes to school in Sunderland and speaks mostly English had an impact on my personal identity. I still feel I am fully Lithuanian in terms of my national identity, but when I go back to Lithuania to visit my family and friends, I don't feel I belong there anymore. The same goes with Sunderland – my home is here now, but do I fully belong here being a migrant? I guess it depends on the situation. So, I did my undergraduate dissertation on migrant women’s identity negotiations after migration. For my MSc dissertation, I am focusing on migrant mothers, their employability and childcare choices.

I would strongly recommend the University of Sunderland to other students as the atmosphere here is friendly and warm. The diversity of cultures I see and languages I hear around campus makes me feel like a citizen of the world. I have heard many personal experiences from people who came from different countries and continents. Also, the range of ages is great at the University as it makes you feel welcome, especially for a mature student.

My advice for prospective students would be to make the most of it, despite how cliché that sounds! University offers so many extra opportunities so you have to take them. This way, you will grow as a person, as well as develop practical skills. For example, make sure you engage with volunteering opportunities and placements. During a Social Sciences placement one summer, I was working on a research project about the residents of Newcastle with learning disabilities who have been victims of crime. This experience provided me with invaluable skills, such as how to organise face-to-face focus group interviews, make posters for advertising the event, find people through various organisations who might be interested to hear the findings and finally, present the research results. I have also volunteered as an appropriate adult with Northumbria Police on the Local Appropriate Adult Scheme, which is run by the Sunderland academic team. This experience provided me with practical skills of working with vulnerable people and the police, which I believe will improve my CV and increase my employability.

The University of Sunderland has helped me to build my confidence as an EU citizen living in the UK. It has given me a new perspective of life where I realised how the world actually works around me. Studying here was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

Published 28 April 2020

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