Nina Dahl's experience of UEA

Nina DahlNina Dahl

BA International Development with Overseas Experience

Originally from: Rjukan, Norway

Why did you choose to study at UEA?

I actually discovered the International Development course by chance whilst travelling in Asia. Inspired by the rapid development but saddened by the inequalities it seemed to exacerbate, this course offered an opportunity to better understand the changes taking place. Returning home, I thoroughly researched my study options and visited several good universities, however UEA's School of International Development (DEV) stood out. It offered interactive teaching, a repertoire of lecturers with vast field experience and the option to do one module abroad; Development Work Experience.

What have you really enjoyed about your course?

I enjoy that the course is very interactive. Lectures are rarely a one-way dialogue as most DEV students are passionate about the issues we debate. Additionally, frequent seminars allow us to develop important practical and oration skills. The lecturer-student relationship is very relaxed, and our lecturers will go out of their way to help students get what they want from the course. We debate issues of poverty and inequalities; environmental sustainability and degradation; resource use and management, with development at the centre. We consider how development is implemented, what it means for the different stakeholders, who benefit and how it can be improved. It's a fascinating course, which I recommend to anyone interested in improving sustainable development benefiting both vulnerable people and the environment.

Tell us about your Overseas Work Experience placement

In the third year, DEV students are given an opportunity to do one module abroad (or locally) to gain work experience. With my adviser's help, I managed to secure an internship at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Cambodia.

I worked on a study that aimed at locating projects with superior potential for reducing Cambodia's high levels of poverty. It was a very exciting internship, which gave me both office experience, and resulted in a two-week field trip assessing projects in the provinces.

As well as offering a unique insight into UNDP, the experience provided me with a better understanding of the course and of development work, as I was able to witness how resource deficiency, power dynamics and development projects were dealt with up close. I gained skills, knowledge and new acquaintances during my internship at UNDP. This has all proved beneficial when carrying out primary research for my dissertation, and I hope it will also help me secure a job inthe future.

What advice would you give to new students?

University life is a wonderful venture. You meet interesting people, have new experiences, acquire knowledge, grow passionate about issues and learn to question their legitimacy. It can be confusing at times, but overall it is inspiring.

What are your career plans or goals for the future?

Eventually, I would like to work within poverty alleviation and gender equity in Asia. However, to achieve this I need to pursue a Master's degree, which I think will provide further opportunities to gain work experience within the field.

Thinking back to when you first arrived at the University, how easy did you find it settling in and making friends?

As I did not live on campus, I was afraid that it would be difficult to bond with my fellow students. However, DEV students are so nice and inclusive that it is impossible to stay antisocial.

Do you take part in any sports at UEA?

The Sportspark offers a range of sporting activities. Personally I enjoy the aerobic and dance classes available on a daily basis, but there is also a gym, a large pool, a climbing wall and various courts for both indoor and outdoor sports.

How would you describe Norwich?

Absolutely lovely! When I arrived in Norwich, I moved into a private residence on the outskirts of the city. Although living closer to the city centre would have been convenient, I love being within walking distance of UEA, and having beautiful fields and parks on my doorstep. Norwich has a wonderful climate for an English city, and is frequently sunny and bright. From the moment I arrived in Norwich I instantly fell in love with it. The city has everything you could ever want – history, a vibrant nightlife, cafés and restaurants, festivals, quirky shops and winding streets. Other bonuses are the close proximity to the Norfolk broads and Stansted Airport, offering boating trips and cheap flights to most places in Europe, and let's not forget Norwich is only a relatively short train ride away from London.