January 26, 2015, by Genelva Meikle

My time at the University of Nottingham: Sophie Woods

Written by Sophie Woods (American & Canadian Studies 2013 ), Marketing Engagement and PR Assistant at FDM Group.

I am a recent alumna (2009-2013) who looks back fondly at my time at Nottingham on campus, in Lenton and at my American school, UCONN for my study abroad year. I graduated with a Joint Honours in English and American Studies degree with a 2.1. I had four very different years at Nottingham that shaped my experience at university. This diverse experience opened my eyes to a wealth of opportunity upon graduating and my own global outlook has been influenced by my time at Nottingham.


In my first year, I enjoyed the quaint charm of Florence Boot within easy walking distance of Trent Building and most of my seminars. In my second year, I was closer to the city right at the top of Derby Road and in turn, a holed-up English undergrad reading a million novels a week. The third year saw me wave goodbye to NG7, if only briefly, to attend UCONN and become an honorary Husky for one year. In my fourth and final year, I returned once more to Hallward library and worked hard to appreciate my remaining days as a student.


Given the sheer number of novels I read during the four years, I can’t actually recall the specific names of modules! However, my advice would be to make the most of first year to discover what it is that interests you; you will need to be confident to pursue that field for the rest of your degree when it really matters, especially come final year and dissertation days. I was personally somewhat relieved to bid farewell to Old English! My days of English Literature and American Studies were unsurprisingly filled with books, quotes and literary theories. However, I also contributed to Impact Magazine, played Netball and Tennis for Florence Boot Hall and enjoyed most Thursday nights at Market Bar. My first and second-year tutor, Robin Vandome, was particularly supportive and a great lecturer in the School of CLAS. He was keen to provide me with a reference on graduating, even though I hadn’t seen him since the second year. Similarly, Neal Alexander from the School of English was by the far best lecturer during my time at Nottingham and in my experience, the most passionate about his field.


I was fortunate that my degree enabled me to spend an academic year across the pond at a top public research institution, University of Connecticut. Not only did I benefit from the US education system, its array of classes and the sporting prowess of its Basketball Team, I was fully integrated into American life; having roommates and spending Thanksgiving with their families. To have had the opportunity to study abroad and pursue my academic interests in North America is a privilege that I will forever be grateful for.

Sophie at an American football game with the UConn Huskies

Sophie at an American football game with the UConn Huskies

I chose the University of Connecticut because of its proximity to both New York and Boston whilst also epitomising the all-American college campus in the sticks that I wanted to experience! I wanted my study abroad university to be globally recognised so that it would add value to my resume: UConn is in the top 20 public research institutions in the US and has an affiliation with a network of global universities through the U21 programme, which was another reason why I chose to study at UConn. However, it also meant that I had to gain a 2.1 in my first year and maintain into second year, to secure my place. This was a great incentive in fresher’s year! I knew that I could hop in a car and go skiing at the weekends, experience a home game win from the best Basketball team in the college or get on a bus to NYC to chill in Central Park; all of which I did which made for an amazing year abroad! My time at UConn was one of the best things about my whole degree. Being given the opportunity to study and live in another country was an unbelievable experience and something that I would encourage everyone to consider. I lived with Americans, was fully integrated into US classes and travelled extensively throughout the US and even down to South America.


The vast array of classes on offer meant I was able to take a Media Ethics class and History of Journalism module, which I never would have been able to study given my undergraduate degree course at Nottingham. A particular class, Human Rights on the US-Mexico Border, inspired me so much that it informed my final year dissertation for which I was awarded a First. I would wholeheartedly recommend Study Abroad to anyone and everyone who has the opportunity: it’s a talking point in interviews, grants you freedom within your degree and enables extensive study that can supplement your academic prowess. We went to Puerto Rico for Spring Break and spent Thanksgiving at my roomy’s house with all her family: every cliché was fulfilled but beyond that it was a genuinely incredible experience that I wish I could re-live time and time again.


My degree leant itself to a marketing role and my interest in communications, crafting content and social media led me to pursue an internship with a start-up at the Google Campus, before joining FDM Group, a global IT services provider and the UK’s leading IT graduate employer, in the UK Marketing Team. With offices around the world and a diverse workforce, with technology and innovation at its centre, I feel most at home in my new role as Marketing Engagement and PR Assistant. Nottingham illustrated the importance of a global outlook and the opportunities made available to me assisted with this understanding; it’s great working for FDM who mirror wholly that mindset.


My responsibility for alumni engagement at FDM has awakened my own appreciation of what it means to be a UoN alumna. I think as a recent graduate it is sometimes very easy to think that our connection to university stops, now that we have graduated. It is proven that older alumni are more likely to engage with the university for nostalgic reasons, attending events and reunions. However, it is incredibly important for all alumni to stay connected and not only reap the benefits of being affiliated with such a well-established institution but also to give back and contribute to its future development. I am certainly proud of my time at Nottingham and thankful for the opportunities it has offered me.

Sophie Woods

 If you would like to write about your experience whilst studying at the University, please contact genelva.meikle@nottingham.ac.uk.


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