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Sophie Graham

Social Work

Where are you from?

Whitley Bay

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

Newcastle has a lot to offer. Depending on where you live it can be very easy to choose different places to go and things to do. Newcastle is diverse; you have the High Street with all the best known shops, fine dining (if you can afford it!) with quality restaurants all down Grey Street and around other areas of the city, Heaton is the hottest place for students, full of a diverse range of individual shops and little cafes, Jesmond Dene is perfect for a touch of countryside, Ouseburn is a hidden gem with fantastic pubs and charity projects clustered around a little river (whose name I don't know). The Grainger Market it over 100 years old and offers fresh produce at affordable prices as well as a huge range of unique little shops that sell everything from old nik-naks to new clothes.

What have you enjoyed most about coming to Northumbria University?

My course is amazing. I have learned a lot about myself and about the realities of the world, which isn't always easy but is definitely manageable with the support you get from staff on my course. I have had wonderful experiences on placement and feel I have grown so much ever since moving out too. Northumbria has been with me every step of the way; the university works very hard to minimize that daunting feeling you get when you move out or jump out of your comfort zone in any other significant way.

Who has helped you most since you came to Northumbria?

My tutors, course-mates, my friends, my parents. I have never sought additional support from the university but the important thing is that it's always there.

What is your favourite place on campus?

I go to Coach Lane Campus, and my favourite place if the library. The atmosphere is incredible; the building is open, warm and friendly and people are helping each other, lending books and focussing on tasks together.

What is the best thing about your course?

All of the skills gained on my course translate into life so well, they help me reflect on myself, reflect on my future and learn about the world around me from a perspective I would never have gained without coming onto this course.

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

Always to be open, to listen actively, never to judge. Before coming onto my course I thought these were qualities that I already strongly possessed, but I learned I was wrong. It is very close to my heart how to learn to make the world a better place, and I am grateful for learning that this is something humanity will always strive to achieve and that you have to value the contribution you have made, because even if it might not seem so, and not matter how little it is, even caring will have made a difference to someone.

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 work with people, preferably younger people and children and gain experience in understanding more about the world. Everything in life is an opportunity to learn and I just want to learn more, following the perspective that I have gained from my course. I don't necessarily want to go straight into social work, but I'm sure somewhere down the line my path will eventually find it's way there. I'm glad I've chosen to do this now, because my whole life I will always have this, and it will make me free to explore the skills I have gained as well as a variety of doors which will have opened to me.

Have you worked on any projects with businesses or been on a placement? What were your most memorable experiences?

I have been on 2 placements. My most memorable from the second, 4 months in a secondary school working with vulnerable adolescents, has many many memories. I did close one-to-work with a young person that tested me to the limit of my emotions as well as my abilities. I couldn't say there is a "most memorable" moment. The whole experience was greatly memorable and I learned so much about how young people's worlds work, as well as how to communicate effectively with them, build strong relationships with appropriate boundaries, and, most importantly, to have confidence in my abilities. I took a leap out of my comfort zone and expanded it's territory; I learned to emotionally tolerate situations that I would previously have struggled with and developed my personal technique of being assertive, helpful and honest. It was life changing and brilliant.

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

I would urge you to explore the university, the facilities, the opportunities, the courses. I would tell you to learn as much as you can because, even if the decision is not to come here, it needs to be what is right for you. Northumbria and the city of Newcastle have a lot to offer though, so it is definitely worth checking out for yourself. I'd advise coming to an open day.

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

I have changed enormously, I have massively matured, gained lot of perspective on life and the society, made terrific friends, met terrific people and gained tonnes of confidence.

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

Inspiring, challenging, rewarding.

Would you recommend Northumbria University to a friend?


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