Nikita Shah, Mumbai, India

Nikita Shah

Nikita from India studied the MA Developmental and Therapeutic Play. We caught up with her to find out more about her experiences of studying at Swansea University...

What did you do prior to studying at Swansea University?

I completed my BA (Honours) Psychology at Mumbai University and went on to pursue an MS in Executive Leadership from National School of Leadership (NSL), India. My love for working with children drove me towards pursuing another Postgraduate degree and I enrolled myself for Post Graduate Diploma in School Counselling at SNDT University, Mumbai. While working as a Child Counsellor in a school in Mumbai, I realised that play is one of the most powerful tools of working with children. Some more research on how to use play therapeutically showed me the way to Swansea, and here I am, playing and learning, and doing what I love!

Why did you choose to study at Swansea University?

Not many universities in the world offered this subject at Master's level. Out of the few options I had, the modules provided by Swansea University were precise and tailor-made for my needs. I also received an International Student’s Scholarship as soon as I applied for this course. 

Can you tell us about your course?

The Master's in Developmental and Therapeutic Play is meant for anyone who loves to work with children. Most of our lectures would involve us playing ourselves in order to understand how a particular kind of play facilitates development in children. All of our tutors were really playful and we rarely had a dull moment in class. The fact that this course was a combination of theory and actual hands-on practice of working with children is what really helped me gain better understanding of what we learnt in class. The global mixture of classmates increased my knowledge about the variety of work mental health professionals are into across the globe. Sharing experiences with different people from different cultures and different backgrounds widened my horizons and will significantly affect my career and personal life.

What part of the course do you enjoy the most?

The best part of this course was designing play sessions for children, conducting them and then reflecting on them. We had to complete 50 hours of child observation in the first term and then conduct 6 play sessions with children based on any one theme in the second term. The sheer joy of being around children, letting them be themselves and play, and yet somehow contribute to their development was one of the best feelings I’ve experienced. 

What’s been your highlight whilst studying at Swansea University?

For the first time in my life, I was so far away from my family. Swansea University gave me much more than a Masters Degree. I have not only gained knowledge about the course I studied, but I have gathered so many important life lessons, it’s amazing! From working with children in so many different settings- hospital, nursery, after-school club, home visits – to making friends and professional contacts from all over the globe, it has been one beautiful journey. Walking to the university through the beautiful parks, enjoying summer days around Oystermouth Castle and Mumbles Lighthouse, spending incredible evenings on the Swansea Bay & Rhossili Beach – Swansea is as precious to me as my home, Mumbai, is.

How will your qualification help your career? 

For this whole year at Swansea, I worked with the Play and Leisure Opportunity Library and Hafan Y Mor in Singleton Hospital. I also did my observation hours at the Swansea University Nursery on campus. I have interned with an organisation called Fit 2 Learn in London that organises play interventions for Autistic children and I have already secured a job in India's rank number 2 school, École Mondiale World School, Mumbai, within 5 days of returning back to India from the UK.

Would you recommend Swansea University to other students? 

Yes, I would definitely recommend this course and specifically Swansea University to anybody considering a career in play-work and childhood studies. The Welsh are absolutely delightful and Swansea is a beautiful place to live in!

What advice would you give to students considering postgraduate study?

Postgraduate study is definitely a big deal and involves massive amounts of sleepless nights and coursework, but if you truly love the field you choose to study, what seems huge and hectic will become fun and exciting.

While studying at Swansea University, Nikita won a "Lord Mayor's Award". You can read more about her success here.