Fifteen people who made #MyCheveningJourney great

We're all just passing through, but as we travel from point A to point B, it's the people we choose to travel with who are the ones that matter.

With that in mind, we asked our scholars to tell us who had made their journeys worthwhile.

One of the best Chevening experiences

Basma El Doukhi, Lebanon

Living with Rose, who I consider now my third mother in the UK and in my life, is one of the best Chevening experiences for me. I have learnt a lot and experienced positive, caring, and kind feelings.

I am feeling very grateful as I am able to feel the sense of family and mother’s care to her daughter through the kind treatment of Rose. This feeling is very important to me as a student who is living far away from my family and especially my mother.

She treated me as her daughter and she always tells me: “I am living with you and I feel as though you are my daughter. Basma, you are a very kind, polite, heart-warming, sensitive and caring person. You remind me of my daughter.”

I really felt very blessed by her little act of kindness and cooking, I was feeling full of it, and full of love and caring feelings that the dish and her cooking filled me with.

“Cultural differences were what made my stay interesting”

Christine Coc, Belize

Christine Coc with friends

On 5 April, 2019 during my interview I was asked “why Chevening?”. My response: Chevening would provide me with the opportunity to expand my intercultural intelligence. As I reflect on that answer, I surely underestimated how much it would.

The first people to greet me with friendly smiles were my flatmates, automatically making me feel like I belonged here. With them being from India, Mauritius, and Vietnam the cultural differences were what made my stay interesting.

We had so many things to share and exchange, from foods, music, to gems we brought back from home. There was never a single moment of dullness and together we developed a culture of acceptance. As I moved on to my classes I was lucky to have a small class consisting of five-course mates again from different countries which allowed me to fine-tune my ability to function in culturally-diverse settings.

Outside of class, Annie took hours out of her day to take me to different places in England. The lesson I learnt was: be selfless. As I met my Chevening family the love and support were overwhelming. We had game nights, celebrated birthdays, and to put it simply were there for each other. No journey is ever smooth but my journey taught me the invaluable lesson of maintaining friendships with others no matter how different. Lesson learned: Just embrace it!

She taught me to “live in the moment”

Cui Ying Ee, Malaysia

When I complete my Chevening journey, I will have been missing S, who is my landlady for my whole life. As a newcomer in the UK, I arrived in the country last year with a lot of excitement but worry at the same time. However, my worry had gone when S welcomed me with her open arms. S is the best landlady I have ever met in my life so far as she is a kind and knowledgeable person. She had been providing me with a lot of support in my accommodation arrangement before I physically arrived in the UK.

Other than being my landlady, S is my first friend in town. Her fun personality creates zero barriers between us. I have got to understand and know her better throughout three months’ of lockdown. She is my dinner and cooking mate. It is fun to share the same kitchen with her and learn cooking from each other as well as the cultural sharing sessions we have during dinner time.

S is also a life mentor to me as she has been teaching me about life. Her life stories have been enlightening me since our first conversation. She has taught me to live in the moment.

I definitely will be missing living with S in the future. I will never forget the laughter and the giggling moment at the dining table we have had after my Chevening journey end this year.

The people in my Chevening journey

Dito Adisuryo, Indonesia

During #MyCheveningJourney, I have met nice people with great stories. They are from Chevening Scholars of Indonesia in Edinburgh and the UK, my class and university mates (including the pub quiz team ‘the International’), the Chevening events, my Christmas Trip to Chesire to visit an old friend, New Year in Edinburgh, and exploring Scotland and the UK. They and I have shared moments together. Some of them have also joined me on a few trips. I cannot also forget support from my family and friends in my home country.

Nevertheless, #mycheveningjourney will not be completed without mentioning my Programme Officer, Lydia Wood. Lydia comes from Penrith in Cumbria, in the beautiful Lake District. After studying at Sheffield University, she joined Chevening. Her exceptional support and dedication have made this journey happen. My Chevening friends and I always wait for her newsletters. It is not only about giving or sharing information and joining events and activities. It also includes tips, including keeping smiling at the amusing British weather! Thank you, Lydia, for this one year to remember with Chevening.

“We were there for each other”

Hind El Ouardi, Morocco

We shared great moments at Birkbeck, University of London with our Chevening family. We participated in many activities together (climbing sessions, cooking classes, walking tours, trips outside of the city), studying most of the time, having our ups and downs, but most importantly we were there for each other.

I am sharing with you a picture of some of us with the blue baton when it just arrived at our university, one of those unforgettable days of our Chevening journey.

“I love and admire each one of them”

Keila Tamires Martins, Brazil

Keila Tamires Martins with friends

My Chevening journey was made all the more special because I had Jonathas, Taya, Lucas, David, Guilherme, Bruno and Lara with me. We bonded over a certain feeling of being misfits, while having beer at a pub after the Chevening Orientation and only grew closer from that moment on.

Although the master’s degree obligations made it hard for us to see each other as much as we would have liked, I cherish each one of our moments together, specially the house parties at my apartment in Greenwich and pot-luck dinners at Goodenough College where Lucas lived (the photo I chose is a reminder of one of those dinners). Even after Covid-19 happened and some of us had to leave London, we still found ways to have fun and cheer each other up by having “dance sessions” over video conferences.

I love and admire each one of them: Lucas for his generosity and superb planning skills; Jonathas for his contagious laughter and grounded confidence; Taya for her sharp sense of humour and poetic nature; Lara for her striking aesthetic and ability to praise; Guilherme for his “cuddly-cosy” aura and joyfulness; Bruno for his idealistic spirit and enthusiasm towards life and David for his resilience and honesty.

I am grateful I got to meet and become friends with these genius human beings, and for having found a group with whom I could share projects and ideas as well as memes, romantic tales and insecurities.

We managed to go through tough times together

Leen Alhamwi, Jordan

Leen Alhamwi and friends walk on the south coast of England

A nice trip to Eastbourne was one of the greatest weekends spent with my amazing fellow Jordanian Cheveners. I couldn’t have imagined my year in the UK without them. We study together. We laugh together. And we managed to go through tough times together.

“I taught her how to ride a bike”

Marina Ponce, Argentina

Marina and her friend Alukeny

I have met several people that made my Chevening journey unforgettable, but if I had to choose just one it would be my friend Alukeny, because all the remarkable moments we lived together. We spent a weekend with a British family with the program Host-UK.

We travelled to Budapest in the harsh winter where we ate goulash, drank cocktails in ruins bars and swam in thermal waters while the outside temperature was 0 degrees. We celebrated Christmas where I tried traditional Angolan dishes for the first time. I made her try homemade Argentinian empanadas and “chocotorta” (chocolate cake), made with the British version of “dulce de leche”.

She taught me Angolan rhythms like Kizomba, and I made her dance old-school reggaeton songs in Latin clubs in Camden. We moved in together and became roommates. We became fitter after months of over-eating English biscuits. We escaped London’s atypical 30 degrees and visited the sandy beach of Botany Bay. I taught her how to ride a bike. She taught me everything there is to know about hair care.

We celebrated her first wedding anniversary with her lovely husband Jorge toasting virtually from Angola. Now, we moved to her childhood home in Lisbon to write our dissertations while enjoying the welcoming Portuguese weather and beaches. Here, she is making me taste local pastries and showing me the hidden city gems as only a local can do. I could not be happier to share with Alukeny the last chapter of my Chevening Journey.

“I am grateful I had her by my side”

Raquel Bautista, Dominican Republic

Raquel with her friend Monishah

When thinking about those who made #MyCheveningJourney great, many people come to my mind, especially scholars living in Leeds and from my country living in other cities in the UK. However, there is someone who is the first one I think of.

Little did I know that someone who started as my flatmate later would become one of my dearest friends in the UK, a Malaysian scholar, Monishah. We both were on reserve and got our upgrades in late July. We got in touch through social media and decided to move together. By that time, most people had everything settled, and it was better a Chevener than a stranger.

We moved near our university campus with two other wonderful Indonesian girls. Monishah became my travel buddy since we arrived, and she is in almost all my fondest memories in the UK. I learnt about Asian culture and enjoyed many delicious dishes because of Monishah. I also taught her how to make Dominican-style pasta.

We took this picture in early March right after one of our most challenging journeys, hiking Pen-y-Ghent in Yorkshire. Although we live in different sites of the globe, Chevening brought us together. I am grateful I had her by my side, and she helped me feel at home. When she went back home, we did not say good-bye but see you later.

I am looking forward to visiting her in Malaysia!

“Together, we support each other”

Rofida Lathifah Ghofir, Indonesia

Rofida with her friend Stela

Previously, I thought that my experience of studying in the UK would be between sitting in the class and exploring the shopping centre only. Thanks to Stela, my fellow Chevening scholar, #MyCheveningJourney is much more meaningful.

When she was chosen as the President of the Indonesian Student Association in the UK, she asked me to join her as a Head of Health Unit. At first, I hesitated to accept the offer because this was my very first time living far away from home. I was not sure how to take care of myself, yet she proposed me to take care of others and contribute something more. In the end, I said yes to her. That decision made my UK experience very different, especially in the pandemic situation.

Together, we support each other to make sure that the Indonesian students are safe. I lost count on how many times I cried due to the uncertain situation and my responsibility as a Head of Health Unit. However, she always supports me, saying that it is normal to feel anxious. She asked me to have some rest and come back whenever I feel better. Thankfully we survived the lockdown.

It is a blessing to have a friend who stays with us through happiness and sadness. #MyCheveningJourney will not be the same without her presence.

Down-to-earth lecturers

Suet Sum Sara Yeong, Malaysia

Suet attends a creative coding class at university

This was a photo taken while I was attending one of the creative coding workshops at the University. I took this photo because I was amazed by how down to earth the lecturers are in Britain. I was looking around in the classroom, trying to look for the lecturer for a coding problem that me and my group mates have been trying to solve for more than 30 minutes.

I turned around, and suddenly, I found the lecturer was on the ground working with a group of students. I quickly took out my phone and snapped a photo of the scene that I saw. At that moment, I was reminded: “Yeah, this is what makes me here” – the British Education.

If they are some people I must thank for making #MyCheveningJourney great, they must be my lecturers Dr Helen Thornham and Holly Steel and my supervisor Dr Penny Rivlin because they have given me the greatest academic experience that I could ever asked for, despite everything that happened during the time of Covid-19. Without them, I would not have seen with my own eyes and experienced what they meant by the British higher education! I still can’t forget the question from the Chevening interviewers: “Why the UK?” My answer to it was: “for the quality British higher education experience and the pure English accent!” #MyCheveningJourney was great because I’ve gotten those two.

“I want to tell her how grateful I am”

Takehito Kawakami, Japan

Takehito Kawakami with his partner at universityartner at

One person who made #MyCheveningJourney great is my partner without any question. Without her, I may not have been able to come this far in this journey. She has always been there by my side supporting me. During the lockdown days, I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like if I was here in my room alone for the entire duration. But with her, I was able to stay calm and concentrate on the academics despite the fact that things have changed so much and rapidly.

It feels as this is the journey that “we” went through, not just “I”.  I want to tell her how grateful I am for always supporting me from the beginning of this journey to the end and even outside of that timeframe.

“A friend and a sister”

Tracy Davies-Wilson, Gambia

Tracy Davies-Wilson with her friends

I met Elma Rizzu during on orientation week at University of Sussex. We were introduced by Matida Momma, a Chevener from Gambia. I and Elma are in the School of Law and sociology. I am studying International Commercial Law and she is studying Criminal Law and Criminal Justice.

We are pillars of support for each other. We explored the Chevening journey together, by traveling to Netherlands on a school trip, spending time together and studying together. This a compilation of some our beautiful moments we shared. Thanks Chevening for giving me a friend and a sister. She made my experience great.

“Extraordinary and extraordinarily ordinary moments”

Uduak Akpanedet, Nigeria

Uduak Akpanedet at Old Trafford football stadium

Looking back on the year is one of my favourite things to do. I feel blessed and happy to be fortunate in life. I have enjoyed so much love from good friends and a caring Chevening family on my journey. I have been lucky enough to experience so many wonderful opportunities, getting to network with the world influencers, change-makers, professional experts in pursuit of my research dream.

I’ve had my fair share of challenging and lonely moments this year too. I mean, moving away from family and friends can be tough. But when I look back to days, these extraordinary and extraordinarily ordinary moments are the ones I want to remember.

My whole time in the UK is a dream come true. From watching the most incredible live matches in Old Trafford as a Manchester United fan to volunteering in many organisations. These have been my best and favourite moments from the Chevening year.

As we know family is not always blood. It’s the people in our lives who want us in theirs. Nigerian and Manchester scholars are the ones who have done anything to see that I smile and love me no matter what.

Shared experiences

Yasinta Ariesti, Indonesia

Yasinta with friends in a variety of situations

In the photographs you can see:

  • Cheveners in Warwick getting ready for a Halloween party
  • Cheveners having dinner together in Coventry, celebrating our end of spring term, exactly a week before lockdown.
  • Cheveners ready for some drinks together, again, before the lock down.
  • Cheveners having a picnic, right after the lockdown eased, on a sunny day in a football field in Warwick. The catch up with them felt so good. What did we talk about? Everything, from how we coped during lockdown, our dissertations, and how we are going to miss school.

Thank you to all of our scholars who submitted pictures and stories to this theme.

To submit your own pictures and stories to the latest themes, please check your most recent Scholargram for submission details.

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