First year student, Deepak Saini, first came to Scotland in 2018 to study BA (Hons) International Hospitality and Tourism Management at Queen Margaret University (QMU). While Deepak encountered some challenges in coming to a new country, his positive attitude and sunny outlook on life have made his first year at QMU an enjoyable one.
Tell us a little about yourself such as your hobbies/interests that are related or not related to your course of study.
I’m originally from a small village in the northern part of India, near New Delhi, where I lived with my parents and two elder brothers. I came to Scotland in August 2018 to for an undergraduate degree in International Hospitality and Tourism Management.
I love to play outdoor sports. One of my favourite sports, like many from my country, is cricket. I also love to roam around, listen to music, singing and playing piano.
Why did you choose to study at QMU and what attracted you to the course?
I chose QMU for two reasons. Firstly, it came highly recommended by one of my lecturers - Mr Willard Tan - back in Singapore. Secondly, I love greenery and with the campus based in such a green space I was immediately attracted.
Another reason is the course – it’s totally related to my past study, in addition to providing me with internship opportunities and a semester exchange programme which can take me to anywhere in the world.
What have you most enjoyed about your course? What has been your highlight?
I’ve enjoyed almost everything in my course. All training sessions, cooking classes, the basics of hospitality. The most interesting part has been essay writing, which was totally new to me as I’d never written an essay in my life. I really enjoyed this aspect a lot because it helped me to improve my communication skills, as well as my English language skills.
Has there been a particular course activity you found especially interesting?
All the subjects were quite interesting, but if I had to choose just one, I’d say ‘Introduction to Hospitality’. In addition to an exam and cooking classes, we also had the chance to take part in hotel training with one of the most prestigious hotels within the Hilton hotel group, the Waldorf Astoria, Edinburgh.
What have been some of your challenges with the course and university life? How have you overcome them?
There have been lot of challenges for me as an international student here at QMU. The biggest challenge was my communication (mainly English language skills) which I overcame with the help of the University’s Effective Learning Service (ELS). Secondly, mingling with people was a challenge as I can be a bit shy meeting new people. I managed to overcome this by making good friends and creating a community for myself. Thirdly, coming from a hot climate to a (usually) cold climate has been difficult. Another challenge was food - I’m a vegetarian and can be lazy at times to cook for myself. However, I’m starting to improve my cooking skills – thanks to the course - and am preparing more and more of my own meals.
Did you take part in a placement as part of your course and if so, what was your experience?
I haven’t yet, but I’m super excited for my internship programme next year.
Any advice for students who might be interested in this course?
As a hospitality tourism student you have to be interested in meeting with different people and interacting with those from all walks of life. Working with different people, learning about attitudes, behaviours, styles of working, is really important in the hospitality sector, and this course give us the opportunity (through the semester exchange programme) to study in any part of the world and learn about the people and culture there. I think this is really a great opportunity for those who have an interest in hospitality and tourism.
Life as a student in QMU
What’s your ‘top tip’ for making the most of being a student?
My tip top for being a student is enjoy your student life as much as you can. Take it easy, dedicate enough time to your studies, social life and personal life. Be sure to give balance to your life.
Interact with people and try to get to know them. Join group discussions, make friends, go out, and make time for yourself too. Make a timetable to ensure your social life doesn’t impact on your academic studies, and likewise so your study doesn’t affect your social life. Be focused to achieve your goal, and enjoy as much of student life as you possible can.
What has been the most valuable lesson that you’ve learned at university?
Be respectful to everyone; greet everyone with a smile. Take the good from others and leave the bad. Help each other. Always smile – it might make someone’s day.
What are you plans after graduation? Tell us about your ambitions and where you see yourself in the future?
After successfully graduating from QMU, I will look for a job here in the United Kingdom or United State of America. I need experience working with different people and different places as I want to be a Human Resource Manager at a world renowned hotel. In the long-term future, I would love to work for myself and to own my own business back in India.
"The most interesting part [of the course] has been essay writing, which was totally new to me as I’d never written an essay in my life. I really enjoyed this aspect a lot because it helped me to improve my communication skills, as well as my English language skills."
[Published July 2019]