Malai Zeiti Binti Sheikh Abdul Hamid, PhD Education, from Bandar Seri Begawan: “Bath reminds me of home because of the friendly people, people are very nice to you.”
What are you studying?
I’m doing a PhD in Education, specialising in the area of literacy in English, in relation to Bruneian primary schools. I have a very knowledgeable supervisor who knows my area very well and is really interested in Brunei, as it’s not been done before. Bath is a highly prestigious university, and I felt very lucky to get an offer.
When I first visited Bath I just loved the place, the ambience, the whole atmosphere. It’s gorgeous, beautiful, very peaceful, and it reminds me of home. It’s a very constructive learning environment.
I also chose Bath because I have a sister who is also doing a PhD here, in a different area. It’s nice to have family here.
What’s best about Bath?
Bath reminds me of home because of the friendly people, people are very nice to you. People often smile and say ‘Hi’ even if they don’t know you. We also have similar scenery, very green, and not polluted – this is important for me.
What’s life in Bath like?
I really enjoy living in Bath. If you get tired of studying you can just go down the hill to the city for a change of scenery. There are lots of things you can do, even though it’s a small city; - museums, monuments, historic buildings, the river and Pulteney Bridge – I love it there, you can feed the swans!
The city itself is very beautiful, and they try to keep the historical aspect which I think is very important.
What are your future aspirations?
I'm very grateful to His Majesty and the government of Brunei Darussalam for funding me under the in-service and training scheme. The Ministry of Education in Brunei, are allowing me to specialise in the area of English language, which I’ve always wanted to do, as it’s my area of expertise and my passion. There aren’t many specialists in this area in Brunei, because it is such a small country. When I go back, I will contribute to my country by using my research for curriculum development, planning, administration, and hoping to help improve the education system in Brunei.
I’m not just taking ideas from the UK, but trying to merge ideas to see what works for Brunei, so I’m adapting them to apply to the cultural context in Brunei. Only a few of us have been chosen to be supported in this area and I’m very happy that I have been supported by the ministry. When I return, I hope to present my findings to the ministry, and go on to offer training to teachers, students and government officers. I hope that my research will really benefit the country a lot, as this area hasn’t been looked at in such detail before. Eventually, I hope that my work will feed into the National Development Plan for Education.
What’s your advice?
If I were to offer advice to potential PhD students, I would say; doing a PhD can be lonely so make use of resources available like the library, your department, the International Office. Bath offers good training courses so you need to be pro-active and enrol on them, not just to develop your skills and knowledge, but also to meet other students. You can join as many courses as you like and they’re free! You need to identify the right supervisor who can guide you, particularly in the first year. It’s important to find the right person and if for some reason you don’t, you can change if you need to. You need to get along with your supervisor as you’ll be quite dependent on them especially at the beginning.