International Engineering Ambassadors
Insight into the life & course of international students.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Meet Our IEA Alumni: Birju Galaiya

Department: Mechanical Engineering

Course: MEng Mechanical Engineering (Industrial Management)

Nationality: Kenyan

A bit about myself…

My name is Birju Galaiya and I am currently studying in my 2nd year of a four year Mechanical Engineering course which includes my masters. I am an international student from Kenya. Being in a foreign country is overwhelming at the start but as time flew by I can now say that I am enjoying the student life in Sheffield!

Why Engineering?

My favourite subject in school was mathematics while physics was not far behind. Having a greater understanding of science based subjects in both my junior and senior school; I always preferred something that challenges me. I have been proved right- Mechanical Engineering is not a walk in a park but rather a stimulating course requiring one to think outside the box. I thrive in such situations and I am relishing both the mathematics and physical concepts the course has to offer.

Also, my particular course involves a management aspect of engineering which gives me a great insight on commercial awareness while taking into account the cost and operations implications of engineering projects. The skills I have make me employable in any sector of the economy and not just the engineering and manufacturing sector.

What made me choose University of Sheffield?

Having the options of choosing five universities through the UCAS application process, it was really confusing to decide which university I should pick. I picked The University of Sheffield due to 3 main reasons. Firstly, the University’s engineering department was ranked highly thus I was assured about the quality of education I would receive. The university has several scholarships which would help alleviate the financial burden. A scholarship of £6500 annually (now £7000) was being awarded to one student from Kenya. Unfortunately I did not receive it, but my fellow friend did. I also receive a £2000 engineering scholarship (as do all engineering international students) annually.

Wanting both a vibrant city life and a relaxed countryside life, Sheffield seemed to be a great choice (still is!) as it has a stunning city centre while the Peak District is just next door. Sheffield is the greenest city in the UK. Yes that is a fact.

Career Prospects

Being in my second year, the thought of working as a qualified engineer strikes you- Am I going to get a job once I graduate?

Although I am expected to finish University in 2016, the process of getting a job starts now. Seems early but you do not realise how quickly time goes. I intend to perhaps take a gap year in which I would work in an engineering firm before coming back for my masters. The application processes can be frustrating and long but the university has a dedicated careers service department who give you advice, tips and also review your applications. They also organise job fairs where you can talk to employers and see what opportunities are available.

When I am not studying or doing experiments…
The University of Sheffield’s Student Union has so much to offer. With over 300 diverse societies to join the Student’s Union building is always buzzing with people and activities. No wonder it has been rated the Students' Union in the UK since 2009! I tend to hang out at the union with fellow colleagues during breaks between lectures because the atmosphere is lively especially now it has expanded.

If you think engineering is going to gobble up all your time, well, you are wrong. There is plenty of time to meet new people, do new things and most importantly have fun! Some of the things I enjoy doing include:

· Running around Sheffield as a way to keep fit and refresh myself. The best part of it is running up the countless number of hills!

· At the moment I am part of the National Hindu Student’s Forum Sheffield which is a faith society. Being sports secretary, I organise football and badminton sessions for our members but I also help out in organising events such as society socials. It keeps me busy but nonetheless rewarding.

· Learning new skills through the ‘Give it a go’ scheme. Some skills I have gained include self-defence, iMovie video editing and first aid. I also learnt the basics of GoalBall (Paralympic sport).

· Volunteering and participating in events around Sheffield; from painting a house (messy!) to running the Sheffield Half Marathon raising funds for charity.

Nightlife and the City Centre

Let’s admit it- we all want a great social life! Sheffield has several clubs catering for different tastes in music and if that’s not tempting enough you can have your own house party! The Motorpoint arena hosts big concerts (Justin Timberlake in March) as well. For sport fanatics, like me, visiting Sheffield United’s stadium is a must. As an international student, watching an ice hockey game was thrilling as it was something new. The city centre itself is a shopper’s heaven with Christmas markets and Halloween themed nights lighting up the city.

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