Zuz Olsinova, from Bratislava, Slovakia came to Scotland to study Psychology and Sociology. Whilst studying the BSc (Hons) Public Sociology, she discovered her passion for this area of social sciences. She has therefore been delighted to progress her learning in this area by securing a place on QMU’s new MSc Public Sociology.
What attracted you to the course and why QMU?
I was searching for a course in Edinburgh that would suit my interests and I came across the Psychology & Sociology course at QMU. Going to QMU was almost an accident, but it turned out to be the best decision I could ever make. I initially went straight into the second year of the Psychology & Sociology degree but then chose to move to the BSc Public Sociology. It was absolutely the right move for me and I have been very happy in my course.
If I knew then what I know now, when I was initially looking for a degree, I would choose QMU and the Public Sociology degree because of the amazing atmosphere at the University, small number of students and professors who are attentive and enthusiastic, and the strong focus on community. One of the best things about my course, and QMU, is the opportunity students get to put knowledge to practice. This, for me, is the only way to study sociology constructively.
Why did you choose to study in Edinburgh/Scotland?
It was a logical decision for me, wanting to study in the UK. I couldn’t have afforded course fees to study at an university in England but I was delighted to be able to benefit from free education in Scotland.
At the point when I was searching for a course, my sister had a lot of friends in Edinburgh, and so I naturally felt attracted to go there. It was another great decision to study in Edinburgh, and Scotland has become my second home. I am now a proud ‘almost-Scot’ and a great lover of the capital city.
Living Away from Home
Where did you live whilst studying?
Whilst studying at QMU I chose to live in rented accommodation in the centre of Edinburgh, rather than University halls of residence. I like the feeling of independence and responsibility, however, I have had some issues with private accommodation. I believe that staying in halls of residence is often a good idea for many students, especially in first year, as it helps people to get to know each other and can be much easier – no travel, no complications, less bills to sort out etc. Some students choose to stay in halls in first year and move into town into private accommodation in their second years. Personally, I just really enjoy living in the heart of the city.
Life in Edinburgh – what was the best experience you had in Edinburgh? Are there any hidden ‘gems’ you’d like to share?
Life in Edinburgh – especially in the student centre around the University of Edinburgh – is full of amazing places that are great for exploring. From the breath-taking historical sites of Greyfriars Kirkyard, the castle, and Royal Mile, to the lesser known places such as the small closes and lanes in the historic centre. There are also dozens of bars, pubs, and clubs that are bursting with life and friendly people. It is a wonderful experience just to walk down to the Meadows and then to Greyfriars, turn around and go to Bristo Square and then have a pint at a nice pub or tea at some small café. Alternatively, Portobello beach, Stockbridge, Holyrood Park, and Crammond Island offer an amazing and unmistakably Scottish experience of Edinburgh. I would also recommend looking out for charity shops – some of them are great. Edinburgh really does have something for everyone. There is something of interest around every corner, and the city is full of friendly, gregarious people who are always keen to help and share their favourite hidden gems.
What was the most interesting part of the course?
I liked everything about the course that encouraged us to go out there and use our knowledge, especially the ‘Engaged Sociology’ module that enabled us to work within actual communities, and the honours dissertation, which gave us the amazing opportunity to pursue our area of interest and make an actual change in the communities. I also liked how most of the courses were linked to the sociology of social movements - how they are formed, how they work and how they develop. This is very helpful way for a public sociologist to learn about the practical application of the subject.
Any advice for students who might be interested in this course?
Go for it. It is the best way to get involved with the world, to put your knowledge into practice and help people – and yourself – realise their full potential.
Ask a lot – especially the lecturers – and use the flexibility that the course offers you to pursue what really interests you.
Can you tell us what happened immediately after you graduated?
I was supposed to go on to further study (MSc in Community Education at the University of Edinburgh) but in the last moment, the course was cancelled due to low applicant numbers. So I started looking for a job, sure that in a year I will be starting my Masters.
Are you currently working? If so please give a brief outline of your job. If not, what are your plans?
Strictly speaking, I am employed at QMU, as a Teaching Assistant to the staff of Gender Justice and Violence module in the Department of Sociology, but this is a very casual contract that does not earn me enough on its own, so I hope to balance this with other casual work. However, it has allowed me to develop my teaching skills. I also help out, when needed, with the validation of the forthcoming MSc Public Sociology programme.
Would you consider further study?
I am 100% considering going into further study - not only because back in Slovakia, where I want to settle, a Masters is necessary in most graduate jobs - but also because I like being a student, exploring things and learning something new. I want to continue with my Honours research with the Slovak Roma community and expand on it during my Masters research. Not only will the Masters give me the time and opportunity to do research, but I will also learn more from the amazing people at QMU’s Department of Sociology and enjoy some more of the sweet and supporting atmosphere at QMU. I think a postgrad in Public Sociology will enhance my knowledge and ways of understanding of sociology and society, and help me to articulate better my worldview, as well as inform my future work. I hope to be more able to assess a social situation and identify ways of solving social issues that arise in my surroundings, and by that contribute to building a more just and respectful world for everyone.
"I liked everything about the course that encouraged us to go out there and use our knowledge, especially the ‘Engaged Sociology’ module that enabled us to work within actual communities, and the honours dissertation, which gave us the amazing opportunity to pursue our area of interest and make an actual change in the communities."