Course dates: 2011-14
I've just started the course here but it is going well so far. I am collecting the preliminary data and starting to write the introduction to my project. I am specialising in breast cancer research. I have one meeting a week with my supervisor but it is mainly self study. That said, the Institute also put on different workshops through their Professional Development Programme to help PhD students with their studies. They are really helpful. At the start, these workshops were introductions to Postgraduate study but now they bring in people from the industry to give us talks and ideas on our research. I try to attend as many as possible. I am also taking the in-sessional English programme which is really useful for help with academic writing and thesis writing. It is interesting and a good break from the usual studies. I have got to meet other PhD students through the workshops and the English classes.
I chose to come to Newcastle as I studied my undergraduate degree elsewhere in the UK so it made sense to stay here. Newcastle appealed to me as the Northern Institute for Cancer Research has a good reputation and is one of the best in the country for cancer research. My sister is also studying at Newcastle doing her Undergraduate degree so I wanted to come to live in the same city as her. We were offered the International Family Discount as part of this which was also a factor.
I live in Easton Flats in Jesmond. There are five of us in my flat including me. I get on well with my flatmates and even though I leave to go to university early in the morning, I often meet them in the evenings for a cup of tea or something. Easton Flats is also in a good location, near Jesmond Metro and ten minutes walk from the campus.
Newcastle is a very vibrant city. I have been on the Metro to Tynemouth a few times and I like it a lot along with the Quayside. I like living here. I attended the International Community Day at the Civic Centre and they taught us a lot about the city. It was very informative and I learnt things I would never have known otherwise. There are a lot of museums to visit too.
In the future I hope to go back to Sri Lanka and look for jobs either as a lecturer or perhaps investigate the possibility of doing a post-doctoral degree.
Advice for future international students
I would advise future international students to come to Newcastle and to enjoy the time here. I would recommend they attend pre-departure briefings organised by the University. I attended one in Colombo last year. It was really useful and quite good fun. There was a quiz which I was really happy to win and it was a good icebreaker for the students and their parents.