November 14, 2014, by International students
Ira Paulo Pozon’s advice to Nottingham students
Ira Paulo Pozon is Legal Counsel to the Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines. He studied LLM International Commercial Law at Nottingham in 2013-14, funded by Chevening Scholarships, and will graduate in December. This blog post is adapted from a speech Ira gave at our Scholarship Celebration for 2014 international scholarship winners on Tuesday 11 November.
By way of introduction, I am Ira Paulo Pozon, a Filipino lawyer working as Legal Counsel to the Vice President of the Philippines. I have just recently completed an LLM in International Commercial law at this prestigious institution. Like all of you, I was also a scholar, and in my case, I was fortunate to have been awarded the Chevening Scholarship administered by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. During my time here, I also served as Regional Ambassador for Chevening in the Midlands, bringing together fellow Chevening Scholars in various networking events. I also recently completed participation in the US State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Programme, with a focus on Foreign Policy.
Allow me the opportunity to share with you some pieces of advice that I found useful in maximising my time here. I am a firm believer that the best lessons come not only from a textbook and the four corners of a classroom, but also through significant life experiences. That said, I have three pieces of advice to give you. And in true legalese, I will use far too many words than are necessary.
First, leave your comfort zones. The University of Nottingham is an international institution, attracting students from all corners of the globe. I implore you to get to know others, make friends from different cultures, and learn from their points of view. I recall once, in what became my second home, you would know it as Hallward Library, a late night study session ended with take-away pizza with myself and an Indian and a Syrian colleague. I was allergic to onions, my Indian friend ate no beef, and my Syrian friend ate no pork; hence, we had a simple tomato and cheese. The meal was, to be completely honest, bland and tasteless, but flavoured with the interesting discussion as we learned more about each other’s cultural, religious, and medical reasons for the dietary restrictions.
Second, expand your horizons. Try new things, join societies, experience new sports and activities. Join the Beeston Bears American Flag Football Team. Attempt a game of Gaelic Football. Have a go at Quidditch. Learn to argue with flair in Mooting. Learn Salsa dancing (or in my case, attempt to learn, honestly it was more difficult than a three hour exam). Take a crack at the mysterious Asian martial arts with Wing Chun, Muay Thai, or even learn Yoga. Participate in a charitable endeavour. Unleash your inner child and build Lego models with the Lego Society. I advise you though to be careful enough to never step on a Lego block without shoes. Such a horrific pain cannot be described in words. My point is, the opportunities are endless, so take advantage of them.
And if you ever feel the need to connect with people with a similar background, there are a number of regional, cultural, and religious societies that will make you feel at home.
Third, take the time to see the sights and experience the culture. Nottingham is rich in its history as you would see in the castle. Have a pint at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, arguably the oldest pub in England. Enjoy real Yorkshire puddings at Hutt, or Fish and Chips at The Cods Scallops. Experience a real Sunday Roast at The Cross Keys. Spend time dining and enjoying the stained glass windows at the Pitcher and Piano. Sing to your heart’s content at Rescue Rooms on Wednesdays. Go deer-watching at Wollaton Park. Try to meet the current Sherriff of Nottingham. Go through the City of Caves. Sit and watch the swans at Highfields Park. Watch a Nottingham Forest game.
When you want to experience more of the UK, Nottingham is advantageously located in the Midlands. By train, it is a short four hours North to Edinburgh and two hours South to London. It is a short hop to major metropolitan cities like Manchester and Birmingham, or the scenic sights in the Peak District like the Duke of Devonshire’s home, Chatsworth House. Enjoy an authentic Bakewell Pudding in Derbyshire. See everything Shakespearean in Stratford-Upon-Avon. For these trips and more, the University’s Travel Society is a perfect group to join. Become skilled at identifying the different accents across the UK, and if you can, learn to speak them.
Of course, there will come a time when you will be academically tested. For those of you who will frequent Hallward Library as much as I did, you will notice it is literally an uphill battle getting there. I was once told that when the University was planned, Hallward would be situated at the point of highest elevation, so it could be a beacon of light and knowledge shining down. Personally, it also symbolised the daily uphill trek one makes to achieve one’s dreams and ambitions. It is truly indicative of the words of Lao Tzu, that “every journey begins with a single step”. The hours spent at Hallward, and at times Djanogly in Jubillee and Highfield House, were exhausting, yet well-spent. I implore you to conquer your exams, essays, and projects with as much zeal as you would any Crisis night in Rock City, any Baywatch night in Ocean, or any pub crawl you may attempt to survive.
All in all, allow me to say, that you are all here as students not only of your chosen fields, but also as apprentices in life. Indeed, I urge you, dare you, even, to achieve great things to the peaks of your potential here at The University of Nottingham. Learn from your time here, experience as much as you can, because when it is over and done with, you will bring Nottingham with you, wherever you will go in the future. Indeed, the Roman poet Virgil said it best, sed fugit interea fugit irreparabile tempus which roughly translates as “but it flees meanwhile: irretrievable time flees”.
Ira Paulo Pozon also appeared in this video filmed in the summer of 2014, talking about his experiences with Chevening Scholarships, studying in the UK, and international student life at Nottingham.
See our Scholarship Awards Event 2014 album on Facebook for a selection of photos from the event taken by International Office staff. Photos taken by our professional photographer will be available soon.
Applications for Chevening Scholarships, the UK government’s global masters scholarship programme, in 2015/16 will close at 23:59 GMT tomorrow, Saturday 15 November 2014. To find out more about Chevening Scholarships and how to apply, please see our webpage on Chevening Scholarships at The University of Nottingham.