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What Is Studying Business Online Really Like? Sonali’s Story

Sonali tells us more about why she chose to study an online Business course at Northumbria University.

Sonali - online Business course student

Originally from Sri Lanka, Sonali Ambegoda started a distance learning Business and Management course in October 2020. Schooled in Italy and with a background in the tourism industry, she took the course to further her qualifications and “broaden her horizons”. Below she shares her story. 


Why did you choose to study with Northumbria University?

After studying in Italy until the age of 15, I moved home to Sri Lanka to complete my A-Levels before I started work in the tourism industry. It was while working that I came to understand the importance of having higher education qualifications, and I began to investigate my options. In 2016, I came across BMS College in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and it was one of the very few institutions that offered a recognised qualification to professionals, and the option to study part-time.  

The college is affiliated with Northumbria University, and so this pathway eventually led me to join Northumbria itself in 2020. Being an international student, I really appreciated the fact they are a highly reputed institution, worldwide, and offer a well accredited yet affordable distance learning programme. The flexibility they offered to students working full time was also very convenient.


What have you enjoyed most about the course? What has challenged you? 

I was a little skeptical of distance learning at first and wondered how much I could really learn through an online course. But, just a few weeks into the programme, I was amazed at the amount of knowledge I had gained. I have got immense personal satisfaction from achieving great results, the learning process and exploring modern-day business issues. I have had a few downs, for example waiting for my results did bring back memories of school! But this experience has been a completely new experience that has enriched my personal development.  

Plus, despite the distance, I really enjoy the live sessions with the tutors and getting to know my peers based all over the world. Returning to my studies after a couple of years and getting used to the teaching styles was a bit of an obstacle at first. However, I believe challenges like this prepares you to face the real world and helps you become more adaptable.  


Why was distance learning preferable to studying on campus and how has online learning helped you? 

My career in tourism and hospitality involves a lot of travelling. Having the chance to achieve a qualification via distance learning was a great opportunity for someone like me, who isn’t in one geographical location all the time. Online learning is also very flexible. It allows you to access the material through the student portal at any given time, despite the time difference with the UK. Plus, the course content is well structured, and because of this I have found it very easy to manage my study plan. 


Where and when is your favourite place to study? 

I am definitely a night owl. My studies mostly begin after 8pm, but now that I work full time, this has really come in handy. I like to be in a peaceful environment when I study, so I am not a typical coffee shop type of student. I prefer the comfort of my room or the living room… along with a stash of good snacks! 


What support have you had to help make the experience easier? 

I have found the regular check-ins from my student successor advisor very supportive. If I have doubts or issues, it makes it easier to know that, no matter where you are in the world, there’s still an accessible and approachable person to ask. The tutors are also available too, and this has been helpful. 

My fellow students have also created ways to keep in touch, such as a WhatsApp group to share their thoughts, help each other through the study material and even crack jokes – all of this been very encouraging.  


What difference do you think this degree is going to make to your career, or in the long term? 

I believe this degree will help me grow professionally, as I grow my understanding of the business environment. It will broaden my horizons for the future. As someone who has always loved working in sales, I never imagined myself working in any other sector. However, after completing every module, I can now see myself progressing in various other departments or continuing to further study.  I find it exciting to think about what I may choose to specialise in, and how this course could lead to a previously unimagined future. 


When you’re not studying, how do you spend your time?  

Between work and family commitments, I like to get a breath of fresh air on walks, cook some good food, watch Netflix and relax. 


What advice would you give someone considering studying a distance-learning course with NU? 

If you seek new challenges, love to learn new things and like to network with people all over the world, this is definitely the right course for you! And don’t be scared about how you may manage your family and work commitments along with your studies – this is the perfect place to start as you will always get all the support you need to keep going.  


How would you describe your NU experience so far in three words? 

Thriving, stimulating and enhancing. 


Considering studying an online Business and Management course at Northumbria University? 

Our Enrolment Advisors are here to help you find the right course for you. Call them on  0191 276 4874 or email

 Alternatively, find out more about our courses below:

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