Franciszek Gebka is one of our graduating scholars. He received the Fugro Scholarship in his third, fourth and fifth years at the University of Aberdeen. In this blog he talks about his experiences with the scholarship and studying abroad.
I visited Scotland on a school trip when I was 13, and it left a very positive memory in my mind. I wanted to study abroad, and English was the only foreign language I knew well enough. SAAS was still funding EU student fees back then, so I applied to Scotland only. I had never heard of Aberdeen before applying for my degree, but I was excited to discover what this new chapter would bring. I chose engineering because of my curiosity about how the world works, physics, and the practical applications of this knowledge. I was also hoping I could contribute to energy transition in my home country of Poland in the future.
During these six years I was in and out of Aberdeen. The first year was a special time for me, symbolising a new beginning, a fresh start. I attended exciting courses and joined the University’s surfing and boxing club. I only pursued one of these for the whole time while in Aberdeen - the Aberdeen University Boxing Club. I competed in the Scottish University Championships in 2019 and the Scottish Novice Championships in 2022, where I reached the semi-finals. Moreover, I helped run classes and assisted with coaching in the 2021-22 academic year. Apart from my involvement with the Boxing Club, I was working evenings at a restaurant and having an active social life in the Hillhead Halls.
After a great first year in Aberdeen, I went away for an exchange year at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, where I completed my 2nd year. I travelled across East Asia, met wonderful people from all over the world, and found the person I love and live with now. Although I thoroughly enjoyed all my time at university, I consider this year the highlight of my student life and look back at it with great nostalgia.
I returned to Aberdeen for year three and the autumn semester of year four. In 3rd year, I received the Fugro Scholarship for my academic achievements. Together with four more students, we represented Aberdeen in a sustainability competition organised by the Royal Academy of Engineering. These three semesters were quite an intense period of my life, where I had to balance a challenging load of studying with my part-time work and boxing, but upon succeeding in each of them, I felt stronger and more confident that my efforts were worth the results. The Scholarship has helped me most in that time, ensuring that I had more time to study and pursue sports by allowing me to scale down my work commitments.
After that, I went to Bologna, Italy, to conduct my thesis project on an Erasmus Programme. However, less than two months into my stay there I was locked down in my flat for another three months due to the emerging Covid-19 pandemic. Even after getting locked down there in the spring of 2020, I enjoyed my time in Bologna. Despite the restrictions, I decided to make the most of my stay in Italy. I have continued learning Italian and progressively reached a relatively conversational level. Additionally, I have learned how to cook many Italian dishes at home and embraced the Italian way of living in my day-to-day life while locked down.
In the 2020-21 academic year, I paused my studies to conduct a 12-month internship at Ansys, an engineering software company. I worked remotely from my home in Warsaw, Poland, hoping I could come back to Aberdeen for my fifth year in person. It was nice to be back home for a while longer after some years away.
In September 2021, I returned to complete my final year at Aberdeen and conclude the journey. It feels like a long voyage is about to end. And a new one awaits. I am excited to see what is coming next for me and happy to say that I am starting a graduate engineer position at an offshore wind consultancy in Bristol this September.