Nikki from the Philippines, BSc in Accounting
From Bicol, Philippines, to the London School of Economics...
Studying in the UK was always a dream for Nikki Amurao – but her worries about being far from home almost meant it didn’t happen. Francesca Santiano from the British Council in the Philippines met Nikki to find out how she overcame her fears, and how she’s preparing for UK student life.
Summer school scholarship
In 2009, the British Council in the Philippines was tasked with selecting one talented high school student to win a scholarship from St. Edmund’s College in Hertfordshire, England, for their three-week summer programme. After interviews with the shortlisted candidates, Frances 'Nikki' Amurao was chosen.
But no one was more surprised than 13-year-old Nikki, as she hadn’t even applied! It was her optimistic and determined father who saw the scholarship offer and applied on her behalf, knowing she wouldn’t have dared to apply herself – it was one of her dreams to visit London, but she was scared of travelling alone and being away from her sun-kissed hometown of Bicol.
Nikki’s supportive father did not allow her to entertain these negative thoughts, and encouraged her to soak up every experience this opportunity would offer. So for three weeks, she studied an academic preparation course at St. Edmund’s College in the English countryside. She thoroughly enjoyed the balanced programme St. Edmund’s offered – from making ceramics to going horseback riding and exploring a navigation course!
When Nikki returned home to the Philippines, she was content that she had seen London and parts of the UK. Her aspirations were set on studying at university in Singapore, just a short flight away from Manila. To qualify, she decided to take her A-levels in Malaysia.
Once in Malaysia, however, she realised that most of her classmates were not there to try to get into universities in Asia – almost all of her classmates were determined to get into a London university! This was the first time Nikki entertained the thought of studying in the UK. She was starting to consider it… but was still convinced she would never get into one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
After completing her A-levels, it was time to apply. Using the UCAS website (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, which handles undergraduate applications for all UK universities), Nikki submitted her application to five universities in England: the University of Warwick, the University of Bath, the University of Leeds, City University London, and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). She had dreamt of attending LSE, but was convinced she would never be accepted.
How surprised she was when she was accepted into all five universities! Truly a marvellous feat for anybody, but even more so for this young teenager from Bicol! For Nikki, the decision was easy. This fall, she will be starting her undergraduate degree in BSc Accounting at LSE.
Dream come true
In order to prepare for university life, Nikki attended the British Council’s pre-departure briefing in the Philippines, where we gave her tips about living in London, things she can do and places to go for free, and a short lesson on UK culture.
Nikki is beyond excited for her new journey, and credits her UK summer school experience with giving her a one-of-a-kind life learning experience. She probably wouldn’t be going to LSE if that course hadn’t given her the courage to try new things – it opened her world and allowed her to grow as a person.
Nikki told me that ‘culture really affects who you are’, a statement that I agree with wholeheartedly. She got to experience this wonderful, multicultural society that exposed her to so much – and now here she is, embarking on a new journey, in a new country and in one of the best universities in the world.