From Aberdeen to Global Learning Champion - Claire ArnottClaire Arnott

MA International Relations & Primary Education, 2015
From Aberdeen to Global Learning Champion

Your Time at Aberdeen

Why did you choose to study at Aberdeen?
I chose to study at the University of Aberdeen following an open day. It was a beautiful, sunny day and Old Aberdeen looked glorious in the sunshine. The staff I met were incredibly friendly, the campus had a village-like feel and the facilities at the university were impressive. I still believe that the University of Aberdeen has one of the best libraries and sports centres in the country! On top of all that, the Primary Education course at the University looked fantastic. I was excited about the opportunity to study abroad and interested to learn about other subjects through the optional electives in the first year of the course.

Why did you choose your particular course?
I chose to study an MA in Primary Education because I wanted to be able to provide young people with the space to grow and develop to their full potential. Throughout my own school career, I saw the profound impact that my own teachers had on me and, as a result, felt inspired to provide a positive learning environment for children in my own class. However, in my first term of university I had the opportunity to take a sixth-century course exploring sustainable international development. This sparked my interest in human rights and education as a tool for social justice. The University of Aberdeen offered the unique opportunity to study an MA in Primary Education with another subject, so I made the decision to transfer to an MA in International Relations and Primary Education to further my interest.

What did you most enjoy about your time at Aberdeen? Did you have any particularly memorable student experiences?
I have fond memories of theatre nights at His Majesty's Theatre, going to gigs at the Lemon Tree and enjoying incredible craft beers at Six Degrees North. I love the fact that Aberdeen is surrounded by beautiful countryside. I used to enjoy weekends walking up Bennachie with friends or sharing an incredible chippie on the beach from The Bay in Stonehaven.

If you were involved in any clubs and societies as a student, what did you enjoy most about them and what benefit do you think they have for students?
I enjoyed playing with the University of Aberdeen Symphony Orchestra once a week during my time at university. Playing music allowed me to switch off from my studies and make new friends outside of my course. Whether it's playing music, dancing, art or sports, I think that allowing yourself to have a creative outlet or hobby has huge benefits for your mental health and wellbeing whilst studying.

If while at Aberdeen you took part in a foreign exchange, e.g. Erasmus or Study Abroad, where did you go and what did you do?
I studied at the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland, during my second year at university. Studying six kilometres North of the Arctic circle gave me the opportunity to encounter -30-degree temperatures, drive snowmobiles, cross country ski and see the Northern lights! Staying for the duration of my whole second year meant I could also experience a Summer of never-ending sun, but also a winter when the sun didn't rise. Taking part in the Erasmus programme was one of the greatest life experiences I've had and I'm still in touch with the incredible people I met there today, almost a decade later.

Did you hold any student leadership roles, e.g. Class Rep, Club Treasurer, Social Convenor?
After returning from my Erasmus year, I worked in the University's International Office as a Study Abroad Ambassador. It was great to be able to support other students thinking about studying abroad, as well as students arriving in Aberdeen for the first time.

If talking to a group of prospective students, what advice would you give them to help them make the most of their time at the University of Aberdeen?
Make the most of the societies, student roles and facilities that the university have on offer. It's a unique time having all of those amazing opportunities at your fingertips and the experience will be very useful when it comes to applying for jobs. It's also well worth using your time at Aberdeen to explore the surrounding countryside. It's special to have hills, beaches and the sea on your doorstep, and it's a great break from studying.

Did you undertake any co-curricular activities while at Aberdeen, e.g. Aberdeen Internships, Career Mentoring, STAR Award?
Throughout my time at the University of Aberdeen, I volunteered for the Centre for Sustainable International Development. I really enjoyed this role as it gave me the opportunity to learn more about a field of work that I was interested in, and meet people working in the sector. Opportunities such as this are a great way for students to develop their skills. This particular role really helped me to develop my organisational skills, networking abilities and writing. It was also a brilliant way to make new friends who had similar interests.

Your Time After Aberdeen

What was the title of your first job after graduating from Aberdeen?
Primary Teacher.

What did your first role involve?
My first role as a primary teacher involved planning and delivering lessons for a class of Primary 2 children. As a classroom teacher, I was responsible for each pupil's progress, and prepared resources and assessments to support the children with their learning. Working with parents, colleagues and other professionals to meet the needs of each child was an important part of the role.

What is your current job title?
Education Campaigns Officer at Fairtrade Foundation.

What is your current role?
As Education Campaigns Officer at the Fairtrade Foundation, I produce education resources and campaigns to inspire young people to change the way that global trade works.

Please briefly describe the journey from your first job after graduating to where you are now.
During my first job as a primary teacher, I particularly enjoyed teaching global citizenship education and frequently made use of resources provided by the Montgomery Development Education Centre in Aberdeen. My first role also gave me the opportunity to take part in a school linking programme with a school in Uganda. These experiences played a key role in the decision to pursue an MA in Education and International Development at the UCL Institute of Education after three years of classroom teaching. My Masters equipped me with the knowledge and skills for my current role at the Fairtrade Foundation. I now produce education resources and campaigns which support global learning in schools across the UK.

Was your degree at Aberdeen essential for getting to where you are now? If so, in what way?
My degree at Aberdeen was an integral part of my career journey and I wouldn't be in the position I'm in now without it. I was able to pursue my interests through the university's unique joint degree programme. Nowhere else in the country would have enabled me to study both International Relations and Primary Education! Furthermore, the University of Aberdeen offered so many opportunities and experiences that equipped me with the knowledge and skills for work.

Have you been involved with the University since your graduation, e.g. guest speaker, ambassador or mentor?
Since leaving the University of Aberdeen, I have enjoyed the annual Celebration of Carols at St Marylebone Parish Church in London. I recently visited the University Aberdeen Tea Society as a guest speaker to introduce the topic of Fairtrade and have enjoyed being part of the Career Mentoring Programme during 2020-2021, this time as a mentor.

One Top Tip

Embrace life-long learning! Don't worry if things don't go to plan. All of your experiences are valuable learning opportunities.