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Matthew Coombs


Where are you from?

New Zealand

Why did you choose Northumbria University, Newcastle?

A researcher working at Northumbria University contacted me about applying for a PhD here.

What do you think of Newcastle and our region and what are your favourite things to do?

Personally, my life largely consists of my PhD and dancing Argentine tango but I've been impressed by the options available. I've enjoyed going to the Baltic and the Sage on several occasions. I also think that its great that places like Tyneside Cinema exist. I've also been meaning to go to the Theatre Royal for some time. It's been nice to explore different places to eat.

What has surprised you most about living in Newcastle and this region? What has impressed you most?

The landscape. I didn't realise how beautiful the surrounding areas are. Having easy access to the coast even without owning a car is great.

What have you enjoyed most about coming to Northumbria University?

New experiences, new people, new places and the options. Learning - as cliche as that sounds.

Who has helped you most since you came to Northumbria?

My supervisors and other students have been very helpful. People in general have been more willing to help than I expected. I can't leave out the staff in the workshops, they have been great.

Who has inspired you most at Northumbria University?

It would have to be my supervisors followed by other students and various people I have met through my research including academics and people with dementia as this is the group that I'm focusing on in my research.

What is your favourite place on campus?

Probably the research zone in the library and the area between the design and law buildings when it's sunny.

What is the best thing about your course?

Having the opportunity to explore different ways of approaching my research. I have been able to connect subjects that allows for new perspectives. I have learnt so much, it's fantastic.

What are the most valuable lessons you have learnt to date?

Finding a balance of looking after yourself, doing what's right for you while pushing your own limits. It's difficult but rewarding.

What do you want to do in the future? What skills have you learned/improved that you think will be of most use in your future career?

I want to be a researcher in design. Trusting myself and trying not to be afraid to just do. Also my writing is improving and finding ways to communicate with various people.

Have you taken up any opportunities to travel with your current course/undertake field trips? If so, please tell us about them.

I have had the opportunity to travel to Brighton for a conference and to Sheffield to meet researchers, gain experience with people with dementia as well as exhibit in a conference in Sheffield. It has opened my eyes on several levels and I've met some great people. This ranges from connecting with different perspectives of a subject like dementia through various disciplines to realising how much people with dementia have to offer as well as seeing how other researchers approach their work.

If you could offer some advice to students thinking of coming to study here what would you say?

The area has more to offer than you think. Don't just visit the University, have a look around the area. It's the complete package that sells a place. Obviously your experience depends on your discipline and the people you meet but if you are willing to put yourself out there it's amazing what is possible. I suppose my advice would be that whatever you choose to do - jump in with both feet.

How do you feel you have changed as a person since being at Northumbria University, Newcastle (e.g. confidence)?

I have gained fear and confidence in almost equal measures. As bizarre as this may sound its great because it means I'm pushing myself while experiencing and learning so much. The simple answer is that I've grown and am continuing to do so.

If you had 3 words to sum up your time with us what would they be?

Excitement, fear, satisfaction!

Would you recommend Northumbria University to a friend?


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