María Alejandra Soto
My name is María Alejandra Soto and I am from Argentina. I have been a teacher of English for 15 years. At present, I teach at a teacher training school and a national university in my city. I had always dreamt of studying in the UK and, fortunately, my dream came true in 2010 when I won the Hornby Scholarship.
My decision to come to Leeds was based on the fact that, firstly, the University of Leeds is very well-known for its high academic standards; and, secondly, the School of Education offers a full-time MA TESOL Teacher Education, which is my main area of interest in teaching.
I had other options, but Leeds was my first choice and I was lucky enough to get a place. I must say I am very happy about how things have turned out!
I arrived in the city early in September 2010. I had already secured accommodation in the university halls of residence, which saved me the trouble of having to find a place to live once in the UK.
I did everything online and had no trouble whatsoever. I arrived a couple of weeks before the course started. This helped me settle in and find my way around the campus, which caused me a little trouble at the beginning.
I found Sentinel Towers a very convenient place to live, comfortable enough for a student, and very close to both the campus and the city centre: I walked everywhere and did not need to spend money on transport. I also found my flat was a melting pot, where I met people from five different countries, which made an already exciting life experience even more so.
Going back to student life after having been working really hard for many years was absolutely amazing. I met very interesting people, some of whom I now count among my friends, and I have really enjoyed spending time with them in class and outside the university.
Leeds offers activities of all sorts. You can enjoy a nice play at the theatre or go for a movie. And there are shops, of course. I enjoyed everything, from spending lazy days wandering around Hyde Park to evenings out in restaurants and pubs.
I also took wonderful day trips to small nearby towns and villages: Yorkshire is definitely beautiful! Some of these trips where organized by the International Students’ Office, and they were an excellent opportunity to make friends. The English weather can be a little bit of a let-down now and then, true. It was particularly hard for me in Nov-Jan, when there was so little sunshine. But you laugh a little, and get used to it. Or, like I did, take countless photos of the changing sky from your window!
What about my studies? I have already completed my MA course and I must say the whole experience has exceeded my expectations. I found my tutors at the University of Leeds to be not only highly qualified, but also very supportive.
The teaching rooms were all appropriate to the lessons, and the library facilities were amazing: I was never short of materials.
I took three core modules, all of which were very interesting and informative, and gave me a broader perspective of TESOL. The three specialist modules I took were challenging indeed. But I felt they were the main reason for me to be here.
I learnt so much I would choose them again! Although I am quite an experienced teacher, I feel that my course in Leeds has changed the way I think about teaching and, especially, teachers. It has also helped me to gain confidence in myself. I have gained new skills and developed professional links that will help me through my career. I believe the most enjoyable part of the course was the fact that I felt I was realizing my ambitions.
I found the whole experience very rewarding and I would definitely recommend both the course and the university to prospective students.