Global Mobility Experience Bursary: Student Success Stories

Rahma Hassan spent her semester abroad at UC Santa Barbara as part of her History degree.

Picture this: a university nestled between the lush Santa Ynez Mountains and the pristine Pacific coastline. That’s the captivating allure of UC Santa Barbara! 

My name is Rahma, and I am pursuing a degree in History and Political Economy. During my second semester, I decided to study abroad at UCSB! 

As I set out on the journey to find the perfect study abroad destination, UCSB beckoned me with its extraordinary charm. Among the prestigious University of California campuses, UCSB stood out due to its renowned academic rigour. UCSB promised a well-rounded and intellectually stimulating experience from delving into Middle Eastern politics to food history. Additionally, the prospect of striking the right balance between academic excellence and a fulfilling social life lured me towards UCSB. 

I also admired UCSB’s cultural diversity and inclusivity. As someone who values cultural exchange and cherishes the opportunity to build meaningful connections with people from various backgrounds, I knew that UCSB would provide the platform to create cherished international friendships. These friendships have broadened my worldview, instilling in me a deep sense of empathy, and understanding for people with different beliefs and values. I felt that this cultural tapestry at UCSB would not only complement my academic pursuits but also enhance my personal growth as a global citizen. 

When I learned about the Global Mobility Experience Bursary (GMEB), I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t miss. The bursary presented an invaluable chance to delve deeper into the culture and heritage of Santa Barbara. Through various cultural events and activities, I immersed myself in the local way of life, embracing traditions and customs that enriched my study abroad experience. 

As I reflect on my study abroad journey at UCSB and the incredible experiences brought forth by the Global Mobility Experience Bursary (GMEB). UC Santa Barbara has given me not just an education, but also an unforgettable chapter in my life, where I’ve embraced the beauty of nature, nurtured global connections, and expanded my horizons beyond imagination. To those thinking about studying abroad, I highly encourage you to do so! Studying abroad has allowed me truly to uncover the beauty of the world and the richness of the human experience.  

One of the first remarkable experiences that the GMEB facilitated was my visit to the renowned Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. Nestled amidst the breath-taking landscapes of California, this botanical haven captured my heart from the moment I set foot on its enchanting pathways. The garden’s curated collection of plants from diverse ecosystems showcased the region’s rich biodiversity. As I immersed myself in the serenity of the garden, I couldn’t help but marvel at the intricate beauty of each plant. 

Beautiful botanic gardens

Another unforgettable journey made possible by the GMEB was my visit to the quaint Danish-inspired town of Solvang. Stepping into this charming village felt like embarking on a journey back in time, where the seamless blend of traditional Danish architecture and the Californian landscape created a unique and captivating atmosphere.

Clogs, clogs and more clogs!

Strolling through the streets, I indulged in the local cafes and went inside local antique shops which offered a glimpse into the town’s rich history. Additionally, the unexpected adventure at Ostrich Land added a touch of excitement to my journey, as I got up close and personal with these fascinating birds.  

Get close, but not too close!

In conclusion, the Global Mobility Experience Bursary was a pivotal force that enriched my study abroad adventure in countless ways. From the wonders of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and the charm of Solvang to the intellectual pursuits in the Bay Area, the GMEB opened doors to unforgettable experiences and valuable life lessons. The support provided by the GMEB not only enabled me to explore new destinations but also encouraged personal growth and cultural immersion, leaving me with an experience that will forever shape my outlook on the world. 

Global Mobility Experience Bursary: Student Success Stories

In our next GMEB Student Success Story, we hear from King’s student Danielle Lirio who studied in Montreal as part of her Law degree.

I’m currently an undergraduate law student, and I spent my third year studying abroad, at McGill university in Montreal, Canada.  

I had chosen to study in Canada with regard to my degree. Canada also uses a common law system, which would align itself with the English common law system thereby making Canada an interesting comparative study in law. Quebec, in addition to the common law, uses the civil law which is something entirely foreign to me, so this exposure of other legal systems would broaden my legal perspective. Furthermore, I was interested in the particular subjects the university offered. Canada’s Indigenous population in especially prevalent in their society, and coming from the UK, this is something completely foreign to me as a student. Having only seen the complex dialogue surrounding Indigenous cultures and the law, particularly in Environmental law, to experience it and learning about it from people of Indigenous backgrounds is definitely an meaningful opportunity during my study abroad.

I applied to the GMEB because, in addition to the costs related to being an international student, I wanted to take advantage of the location and travel to nearby cities. I have an interest in the international arena and so I want to travel a lot in order to broaden my perspective of the world. Travelling is an opportunity to expose myself to other cultures and meet all types of people which I think is imperative when wanting to enter the international arena in terms of career prospects.  

As such, I have so far been on a trip to New York, USA having taken advantage of the relatively close proximity. It is an amazing city with so many sights to see, ranging from art to food as well as history! With the bursary, I was very lucky to see a broadway show! I had studied Arthur Miller while I was in school before, and so seeing an Arthur Miller play was remarkable! (Definitely recommend seeing A Death of a Salesman on broadway!) 

Watching a show on Broadway!

During the warmer months, I also wanted to experience more of the natural beauty and culture here in Canada. With the bursary, I took a trip to Mont Tremblant. With the beautiful scenery and the waterfalls on the mountain, I walked around the city trying Canadian delicacies. I was most excited for trying maple syrup! 

Beautiful scenery

Beyond my personal interest in travelling, I used the bursary to mitigate the cold weather. I had to invest in thermal clothing, as I had never experienced such low temperatures before! While the snow is extremely fun (and very photogenic), it is imperative to cover up! Snow boots are a must have! 

Snow angels are a must!

Meet your Peer Advisor: Aitana!

We have four brand spanking new Peer Advisors to help both incoming and outgoing Study Abroad students this academic year! If you’ve got a question for them, pop along to their office hours.

Aitana will be in K0.57 on Friday mornings from 11-1.

Hi, my name is Aitana and I’m one of your Global Mobility Peer Advisors for the 2023/2024 academic year!

I am currently a fourth-year Biomedical Sciences student here at King’s. I just came back from my year abroad at Johns Hopkins University, located in Baltimore, US. For those of you that have never heard of it before (don’t worry, I hadn’t either), Baltimore is a city in between New York City and Washington DC.

Growing up, I moved around every 3 to 5 years (which was, as one would expect, exciting yet incredibly stressful). I had even moved away from my home in Switzerland to attend university here in London. I had however never been so far away from my family and friends; after all, Baltimore is a whole transatlantic journey away. Yes, it was scary and overwhelming at first, but (thankfully) I wasn’t alone! The Peer Advisors at Johns Hopkins helped me through every challenge I encountered, big or small, whether it was advising me on where to go grocery shopping or helping me navigate the university’s complicated system for choosing classes.

Going abroad was one of the best decisions I have ever made; it challenged me in ways I never expected and helped me grow so much as an individual. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity, and hope that you will feel the same about your own study abroad experience.

Ice skating on the JHU campus (I’m in the colourful trousers)
A day trip to DC! I’m second from left


Now, some tips and tricks about studying in London…

London is an amazing, vibrant city with lots to offer students; I like to think of it as the New York City of Europe! I truly believe that it has something out there for everyone. If you like to go to museums, and exhibitions, you have lots (and most of them are free for students!). You can check out the Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Modern, and even go to some cool immersive exhibitions like Dopamine Land, Dali cybernetics or the Van Gogh exhibit. If you’re more of a go to a park and paint or read a book kind of person, there are lots of pretty parks around London; Regent’s, St James’, Holland park, Kensington gardens, Hampstead Heath…If you’d rather do all the touristy things people first think of when they think of London, you can do that too! You can check out the London eye, Buckingham Palace, or even go on a guided tour in one of those big, red buses.

While all of this can be incredibly overwhelming, you are not alone! You have us Peer Advisors at your disposal, and you’ll be going through this experience alongside a big group of exchange students that are just as excited and overwhelmed as you are.

I’m very grateful that I get to be a part of your study abroad experience and very excited to meet you all and hear your stories!


Miami Itch Centre Visit, October 2019, Dr Maria Papanikolaou

I would like to thank King’s College London warmly for supporting me towards my visit to the Miami Itch Centre. This took place in October 2019, over a period of two weeks. This destination was chosen in the context of my current research project, the PRUMEC trial, which focuses on elucidating the cause of itch in an inherited skin condition known as Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa (DEB). I am conducting this under the supervision of Professor John McGrath in the Genetic Skin Disease Group of St John’s Institute of Dermatology. Dr Gil Yosipovitch, one of our main collaborators for this study, is the Head of the Miami Itch Centre and a worldrenowned itch expert.

During my visit I was primarily based at the Gil Yosipovitch Laboratory, located within the Rosenstiel Medical Science Building – University of Miami, where I was hosted by Dr Yosipovitch’s dynamic laboratory group. The primary purpose of my visit was to assist with immunohistochemistry staining of 45 skin samples which I had personally collected as part of my study. Each stain set (five in total) was completed through a three-day protocol; the aim was to use fluorescence-labelled antibodies to quantify and compare the expression of major itch mediators and receptors between patient and control skin. I also had the chance to examine our stained samples under a microscope, and review pictures produced by the relevant computer visualisation software.

During the course of my visit I was also fortunate to join Dr Leigh Nattkemper in several clinical trial visits, involving both topical and systemic anti-itch agents. The visits involved amongst other things, induction of itch with histamine or cowhage (a plant native to Africa and tropical Asia, whose seedpods induce itch when touched), sensory testing for itch and pain and the use of itch assessment questionnaires. These provided great insight into translational aspects as well as some sound clinical practices in itch-related research.

Finally, my visit to the Miami Itch Centre was complemented by a rich portfolio of clinical activities. This included attendance of the weekly Dermatology Departmental Meetings, where several interesting cases were discussed in depth, an exciting lecture on Chronic Itch by Dr Takashi Hashimoto and participation in an all-day itch clinic alongside Dr Gil Yosipovitch. In the latter, we reviewed several patients suffering from itch of different aetiologies. This not only helped sharpen my diagnostic skills, but also allowed me to familiarise with the therapeutic modalities available in clinic for the alleviation of severe generalised itch.

I am grateful to Dr Yosipovitch and his team for organising an exciting and productive couple of weeks for me, as well as to Professor McGrath for making this trip possible; my visit provided a great overview of the scientific and clinical armamentarium available for the investigation, assessment and eventually management of itch. I am confident this will be an excellent foundation to build on as I move on with my PhD project and beyond. I would like to finish by expressing my gratitude to King’s College London once more, for supporting me in organizing this fantastic trip.