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A female student standing outside and smiling

I was so happy when I got my results because I worked really hard. It was great to see that it had all paid off.

Ayla, Lebanon

Introducing Ayla

  • Country: Lebanon
  • Studied: Foundation and First Year with UPIC, leading to a First Class Honours degree in BA (Hons) Architecture

How did it feel when you realised you had got a First?

I was so happy when I got my results because I worked really hard. It was great to see that it had all paid off. I was in London at the time visiting my cousin and I checked my results online. We celebrated by going for dinner together.

Why did you choose Plymouth

Initially I was thinking of studying at home in Lebanon, but then I discovered Plymouth. It looked like a pretty city by the ocean and it’s quite modern, so I applied. Foundation was a good option for me because I wasn’t very educated in the design elements of architecture, so I felt that I needed extra support to get started.

Describe your first week in Plymouth

I flew to London and I stayed there for a few days. After this I took a train to Plymouth. I met a member of the UPIC team on arrival at the train station and they made me feel so welcome. Coming to a foreign country where everyone speaks only English was a bit different for me, it took time to adapt but everyone made me feel welcome.

Describe your course and your learning experience

During my first semester we had classes for academic writing, computer studies and English language. It was fairly easy going, but I found the academic writing quite intense and challenging for me. I really studied hard for it as I needed to improve – it really helped to improve my writing skills. There were so many international students, from the Caribbean to Middle-East Asia. It was so diverse. The second semester we took design classes. It was really good because I never really had that design background, our lecturer really helped us to think more creatively and visually.

Talk us through your full degree programme

Every year we are given a project that we can be involved in on site – a real, proper project. In my third and final year we were involved in the Big Tent project based in Dartington, Totnes. The client gave us a description of what they wanted which was a multi-purpose camping centre. I worked alongside another former UPIC student and we ended up working on planning permission and technical work for the winning design. It was great to see the final design in real life, 1:1 scale.

The year before that we were involved in building a playscape in a nursery in Plymouth. We had to research costings, materials and so much more – it’s amazing how much detail you have to go into.

If you had to describe your UPIC and University of Plymouth experience in 3 words, what would they be and why?

Exciting – Mainly because of how many people I’ve met and how much I’ve learnt from everyone around me.

Comfortable – The staff really helped me out during my Foundation and my First Year. UPIC felt really welcoming and a safe place to go.

Interesting – Because we had some trips in Foundation Year which was really nice. They kept things fresh, I remember there was a hike/long walk as part of a field trip, it was great.

How would you describe life in Plymouth compared to other cities?

It’s very comfortable because it’s a student city. With lots of other students around you feel very safe. After living here for a while you get used to and become part of the British culture. There are lots of other towns and cities nearby, all accessible by the train station. I visited Bristol, Bath, London, Exeter and various places in the county of Cornwall including Newquay and the Eden Project. There are also lots of beaches around.

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