Aija Sarkane
Access to Arts, Social Sciences and Primary Education
Before returning to education, I was a full-time mum who was struggling financially. Importantly, I was a single parent and emigrant with poor English language. Previously, two years in a row I was rejected from the SWAP course. So, I finished one year of English classes and applied again, the third time I was lucky – I got accepted. I remember my first time sitting in the classroom at the SWAP course and thinking – I do not understand a word of what my Scottish classmates are talking about. Then later coming back home and reading all the work I needed to submit to pass the course, was terrifying. Nevertheless, this was my way to university and onto a better life. SWAP course was the scariest time for me because of the language barrier and the most useful for enabling me to speak in English and consequently go to university. Once I got over the few first months, I started to understand everyone, and I was able to engage in conversations. I realised that it was not about how smart anyone is or how good is your English but how hard you work towards your assessments and your goals. My goal was to attend every lesson and, like a sponge, get as much knowledge as I could. I finished with the best marks and with an A grade in National 5 Maths (which I thought never will happen), and much-improved English. I got five offers from different universities.  

After the SWAP course, I accepted the University of Edinburgh psychology degree offer. I remember thinking about my dream of becoming a psychotherapist and that I did not have the perfect English language to do so. The English language was the most important tool for my chosen profession. Every year my confidence grew, and I continued to put a lot of effort into my studies and learning the English language while taking care of my son. I  spent weekends translating long academic articles in the first year. University was hard work because of the intense studies but I had a dream to become a psychotherapist, so I needed it. After four years, I finished university and received many offers to study a master's course. I chose to study at the University of Edinburgh MSc Psychological therapies full-time 2-years course to become a psychotherapist (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy practitioner). Now, I have almost finished my first year and the future looks promising. I have mastered English at a very high level and soon I will be a fully qualified psychotherapist. All thanks to the SWAP course, which enabled me to take a step farther and access higher education and reach for my dreams.  

SWAP programme is great for accessing university. It prepares you for what you will be needing to progress in the university. Get familiar with different SWAP programmes and choose the one which is the best for you and what you would like to study in the future. This programme offers you a lot of support and preparation and helps you to apply to universities. If your English language skills need an improvement before the university, this is a good starting point for transitioning to the university. Good luck!
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