Why our Malaysian GREAT scholar is happy with a blended learning approach

Nadine Steer is a Malaysian Biological Anthropology student at the University of Kent. In this blog she shares how a GREAT scholarship provided her the opportunity to pursue her studies in the UK, with blended learning (the mixture of online and face-to-face tuition) allowing her to make her dreams a reality despite the pandemic.

The range of study modules means I can customise my learning journey.

I chose my course as it seemed most in line with my academic interests. Moreover, the lecturers and other members of staff are absolutely amazing in their fields! I find the different aspects of what make us human and how we got here truly fascinating. I love that the course provides modules all the way from human evolution and primatology to forensic anthropology, allowing us to customize our own learning journey. I enjoy employing different techniques to study skeletal elements of prehistoric individuals to try and infer behaviour and different capabilities of our ancestors. It may seem slightly morbid, but I believe that there is so much to learn from our ancestors and the fossil hominins show the incredible story of how we came so far.

I can attend face-to-face sessions with confidence. 

The blended learning approach is rather helpful as I am able to access lectures at a time that is convenient to me, then supplement them with practical sessions later. I am grateful for the opportunity to access the laboratories and have practical sessions even with the current restrictions. These sessions help friendships to be formed which I personally find easier to do in person. The university has introduced smaller class sizes and provides PPE (personal protective equipment) which alleviates my worries when having to come in for face-to-face sessions.

I am able to connect with global peers online.

The online seminars are a great way to connect with those who are not currently in the country and gain a broader perspective of everything that is going on. However, the ‘new normal’ takes some getting used to as it is sometimes difficult to gauge other’s emotions and to communicate efficiently online.

I have recieved a warm welcome in the UK.

Overall, I am happy with the current arrangement which allows me to get on with life despite the pandemic. The university has a welcoming atmosphere and there are students from all over the world. I am glad to have met so many different personalities and ways of thinking despite my short time here. I am truly enjoying myself and am excited to see what the next year brings!

Looking ahead to the future… 

I am grateful for the GREAT scholarship as it provided me with the opportunity to pursue my studies in the UK. Some of the best advice I got was, ‘Even if you think you are not qualified, go ahead and apply as you never know what could happen!’. After completing my degree, I hope to continue in my field and collaborate with other Malaysian paleoanthropologists to showcase studies in a more digestible manner as it is quite an unfamiliar subject for many.

By Nadine Steer