This time last year, 1800 scholars from around the globe were in various stages of moving to the UK. Fast forward 11 months and those same scholars are in various stages of moving back to their home countries. Some have already completed their studies and returned, some are in the midst of finishing their dissertations. All we’re sure, are feeling bittersweet. On the one hand, excitement for what lays ahead and on the other, sadness for the incredible moments that have passed.

We asked our class of 2018 scholars, for their final scholar blog, to tell us their favourite memories from the last one year and what they will miss most. Before we get too emotional, we’re going to jump straight in to feel all the feels.

1. Hiking Stob Ghabhar

Carlos Guillermo Leon, Mexico

‘My favourite memory of this year was when I hiked in Stob Ghabhar and South of Stob Ghabhar at the Black Mount summits in the southern Scottish Highlands.

It was the first time that I was hiking in such extreme conditions, and although in some moments it was dangerous, my friends and I reached the summit taking care of every step.

I think that represents my whole Chevening journey, doing things for the first time, that we had never thought or that we did not dare to, and that is why it is my happiest moment because I realised that dreams can be achieved with discipline, courage, and strength.’

2. Football with my family

Azim Kassim, Brunei

‘My favourite memory in the UK from the last one year has got to be when my boyhood club, Newcastle United Football Club (NUFC) broke their transfer record to sign me and I became the first ever Bruneian to play for the Magpies. It turned out to be a dream, but nevertheless I was delighted when my mother told me that she and my brother, also a Bruneian-Geordie, would come visit me in the UK.

I took a picture at NUFC’s stadium, albeit only outside of it, in 2003 when I visited my brother who graduated in Newcastle upon Tyne that year and watched my first NUFC game in 2012 where Newcastle lost 2-0 to Manchester City – yet, it was still great to witness the team that eventually won the league in dramatic fashion that season – but I had never gone for the stadium tour and it’s alright to go by yourself but it’s something else to go with another person – especially one who also breathes black and white, and shares your passion.

Prior to the St James Park stadium, I’ve toured Wembley, Anfield, Goodison Park, Old Trafford, the Etihad Stadium, Ibrox of Rangers FC up in Glasgow, as well as those within Yorkshire, namely Elland Road and Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane.

It fascinates me how much passion – and profit – there is in British football and it was a blessing to share the memory of my favourite football club tour with my family. Howay the lads!’ 

‘Apart from the unique British accents and a legitimate reason to wear a leather jacket and Slytherin scarf, I’ll also miss the priceless opportunities presented by Chevening to partake in programmes and events. One of which includes HostUK where I stayed home for two-nights with a wonderful British couple; Mr. and Mrs. Watkins who generously fed me to the brim in their abode in Cheshire, Chester. Among their delightful concoctions were some rice pudding, rhubarb crumble, and a Welsh soup called Cawl which interestingly tasted similar to my late father’s Asian beef soup – albeit healthier.

Among the gems I discovered in Chester was not the Cheshire Cat but instead the likes of the East Gate clock tower dubbed, “the most photographed clock in England after Big Ben”, and the Cheshire Military Museum. The museum completely exceeded my expectations, especially when I saw the pens used during the end of WWII on display.

Another enriching experience enabled through Chevening was the chance to attend the Chatham House London Conference, as well as the inaugural Global Conference on Media Freedom hosted by the UK and Canada at Printworks, London which were yet again great networking opportunities with fellow Chevening Scholars.

Finally, beyond Chevening, I’ll miss the therapeutic volunteering opportunities through the University of Leeds from gardening at the food growing project to helping out with Oxfam and donating food parcels to refugees and asylum seekers based in Leeds during Ramadan. At times the best way to be happy is by making others happy.’

Editor’s note: Azim, for having been the scholar who contributed the most frequently to the scholar blog this year, thank you.

3. My year of climbing hills

Ennie Yong, Malaysia

‘The day after I submitted my dissertation, I hiked up Conic Hill, in Balmaha, Scotland. The climb up the hill reminded me of my journey the past year – in the beginning, full of excitement and anticipation of what’s ahead, then came the steep climb – encountering challenges that tested my confidence and ability to overcome it. But the desire to know what could await me kept my perseverance to continue the journey and pushed me to face my mental challenges. And I was not disappointed. I was rewarded with the most amazing view of Loch Lomond and its many islands. Similarly, now that I have finished my race, I feel rewarded for all the times I did not give up, but instead challenged myself to continue.

Looking at all that I have experienced in the past year, what I will miss most is the pure desire and the single-mindedness to gain as much knowledge as I can. I will always cherish the fact that I had one year to learn to my heart’s content, where everything else did not matter other than the pursuit of knowledge.

Although learning will not stop, I know that I will no longer have this luxury of learning with time standing still around me (except for assignment deadlines). The memory of the excitement of discovering new learning will always be etched in my mind, just like the memory of looking at the stunning view for the first time from the top of Conic Hill.’

4. My family of single representatives

Priya Sankalp, India

‘As the only Indian Chevener at the University of Glasgow, the first days after my arrival were intimidating and lonely for me. I missed the home-like feelings other Indians were having in London or other bigger cities. But I never knew how lucky I was to be the only Indian – an experienced shared by many of the other Cheveners who are almost single representatives of their countries in Glasgow too.

The longing in heart turned into real bonding in no time and soon the mighty Glasgow Cheveners were flying high in typical Ubuntu spirit. We lifted one another’s spirits, we celebrated, and we cried together. So much so that during the Chevening Farewell in July, the Cheveners from Glasgow were reluctant to join their fellow countrymen as we are a family of our own now.

The days passed in sunshine (though the rains never stopped) and we made the most of the summer inside the library. And how we celebrated our bonhomie in a completely global style.

The pictures show people from different nationalities and different courses pooling food together and taking care of each other during the stressful dissertation submission period. But, we did it together as a family and we are all almost there. This is the thing I am going to miss the most – the togetherness in true Chevening spirit; the oneness of this universe through education.’

5. A spot of afternoon tea

Carina Laroza, Philippines

‘As my Chevening journey ends soon, I can’t help but reflect on what I will miss the most in the UK. As I think about the places and experiences I have gone to and encountered, I sip my cup of tea and smile, feeling thankful for the opportunity that was given to me… and that’s when it hit me, the “afternoon tea” is what I’ll miss the most! I first discovered my love for tea and scones in London, when my sister and I decided to visit a fancy tea shop (TWG). From a delicate cup of chamomile to a strong, wake-me-up black tea, truly there is nothing like a good old “cuppa tea”! What makes it better is its partner-in-crime; scones. Ah, clotted cream, where have you been all my life?

While an afternoon tea could definitely be done in any place, there’s just something special about doing it in the UK. One thing’s for sure though, I’ll definitely be bringing some good UK tea bags with me when I return to the Philippines! And while I won’t be able to bring some Cornish cream with me, I cross my fingers that it’ll be available in Philippine grocery stores!’

6. Hosts, railways, and train journeys everywhere

Phuong Anh Nguyen, Vietnam

‘My Chevening journey is full of memories; I had many new experiences, new lessons, and new friends. One of my favourite memories is taking part in the Host UK programme. It is the “most British” experience I had in the UK.

We enjoyed the quiet countryside life in Liss – a small town near London with Mrs. Claire and Mr. Andy. I especially enjoyed the moment in the early morning when I heard the birds singing and the crystal sun shine from the window which I cannot see in London. I liked the lovely house they live in with the garden and bright kitchen. We cooked together and shared our travel experiences. Mrs. Claire and Mr. Andy had a trip in Vietnam, my country and they loved “Pho” and Vietnamese coffee! We also went to visit Jane Austen’s house. Being a fan of romantic novels, I really loved the experience in this area – the music, lavender fragrance, ancient British architecture, and the peaceful British countryside.

Another day, we walked along the shore to enjoy the summer atmosphere. In the evening, we played board games and had an English lesson – the most interesting English class ever; the hosts showed me some British slang. At the end of the trip, Mr. Andy took us to the train station to come back London. It was a little bit sad to say goodbye. The hosts were so nice, helpful, and gentle. I learned so much from them!’

‘I love the vibrant life the UK. There are many beautiful things in Britain that become indispensable parts of my Chevening journey. The one I will miss the most could be the railway system in the UK, which took me everywhere to discover the beautiful landscapes, to learn about British culture, and to share unforgettable memories with my friends.

The railway system is very typical in the UK. It has a great network connecting many cities, and with convenient service times. It is the oldest railway system in the world, opening in 1825. It is very clear to see the imprint of time in these trains. It also illustrates the achievement in transport development.

I have visited Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick, Canterbury, Leeds, York, Bath, Nottingham, Edinburgh, and Fort William which are all lovely cities. I like sitting in the train and looking to the scene hurriedly passing through the window. During those times, I felt like I was Harry Porter on my way to Hogwarts.

I will also miss the times when my friends and I would wait for the train to go home after a day out. During these journeys we shared many stories and experiences. In my hometown, we rarely travel by train, which is why when I return home, I will not have many opportunities to enjoy this feeling again. But I know, I will miss this typical thing very much, and I will especially miss St Pancras International Station where my journey started.’

7. Forging connections through kindness

Ryan Jay Roset, Philippines

‘There is a part of me that laments the inevitable and increasingly tangible conclusion to this part of my journey. Much of it has to do with the fact that it may take a long time for me to see these faces again, not least because we shall no longer enjoy the gift of a common physical space for meaningful interactions, or frugal hi’s and hellos.

At the same time, I am profoundly grateful for the connections and friendships I have nurtured throughout my stay. Connections forged through, the kindness and hugs of acquaintances, and then afterwards, the generous sharing of knowledge and of stories, only to culminate in innocuous but titillating confessions over a round of booze (to be forgotten beyond a pub’s walls). It is through these meaningful and authentic interactions that we become part of the people and peers we interact with as much as they become a part of us. In this same process, we discover that much of what there is to learn about the world lie beyond what our classrooms, newspapers, and museums can accommodate.

The power of Chevening lies in the diversity of its people, who share a common dream beyond themselves. It is privileged company by all accounts, a group of dreamers and dream-makers animated by the untamed commitment to give birth to a better world. These are the ones I will miss the most.’

8. Losing a muffin to gain a variety of potatoes

Nalina Sungeelee, Mauritius

‘Chatting over golden jacket potatoes, grilled broccoli sprouts, and baked red beans in Cornwall, a fellow Chevener and I made mutual confessions. Since he’d arrived in the UK, he’d lost his protruding belly and I, most of my muffin top. Looking at him, I’d never have guessed that he was rather portly before. At thirty, we’d both magically regained our early-twenties’ figure.

Our secret? It was neither the shivering on the way to class during the cold winter months nor the intermittent sprinting into the overcrowded London tube. In fact, we’d redirected our stomachs away from absorbing over-processed takeaways to digesting wholesome home-cooked British food.

Grocery shopping changed from the mundane to this exciting experience, full of discoveries along the grocery aisles. Did I want Maris Piper, Vivaldi, or King Edward potatoes for tonight’s dinner? Or perhaps this interesting purplish orange bulb called a ‘swede’? How about purple Witches’ Noses carrots for Halloween? And for dessert, a handful of assorted British berries or a sweetly-fragrant pear from Kent? My sweet tooth also indulged in a culinary discovery of its own; like Paddington bear, I now start the day with orange marmalade on toast! And the cherry on the cake was undeniably binge-watching traditional British cooking from the BBC archives with the delightful Delia Smith.

Ah, food, glorious food! This year has been one of mind and body transformation. Whilst I’ll dearly miss the sheer variety of British produce, I am determined to keep the healthy eating habits I cultivated here.’

9. Your Chevening journey

Cheveners old and new collectively use the ‘MyCheveningJourney’ hashtag to post snippets of their year in the UK on social media. You can view their memories by following the hashtag on Instagram and Twitter.

Thank you to the class of 2018 for all of your submissions throughout this year to the scholar blogs. We wish you all of the best for the future and will no doubt be seeing all of the amazing things you go on to do now that you are Chevening Alumni.

After a short break, the scholar blogs will return with Chevening’s class of 2019.

To incoming scholars who want to contribute to the blogs, you can find submission details, as well as current themes, every month in the scholar Facebook group and your monthly Scholargram newsletters.

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