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From USA to Notts: Studying Creative Writing in the City

11 January 18 interview: LeftLion

Ashley Silvey, from the USA, is a postgraduate student at NTU, and here tells us all about the hows and whys of studying in humble Nottingham...

Ashley Silvey

Why did you choose to study in the UK?
I believed it was the perfect place to find inspiration. The UK has a timeless enchantment that’s priceless for someone seeking literary stimulation. All my favourite authors – Tolkien, Lewis, Austen, and Rowling – all have roots in England.

When I approached the final year of my undergraduate degree, I noticed I still had the hunger to grow more academically. I wasn’t satisfied with only a Bachelor’s Degree, so I knew I wanted to pursue my Masters immediately after graduation from university. I chose NTU in particular because I was most impressed with their prospectus and website, and the staff were all helpful in the pre- and post-application process; I felt like a priority and an asset rather than an annoyance.

How did you feel about coming to a UK University?
I was expectant. In my mind, the UK was a place of academic excellence, and I was humbled to be a part of something so prestigious and respected internationally.

What attracted you to MA Creative Writing?
I knew I was interested in developing my skills and knowledge in both fiction and young adult fiction. The course provided both as optional modules in addition to a core module that focused more intensely on writing as theory and practice.

I appreciated the variety of opportunities and freedom I was given to make the most out of my MA. The modules weren’t chosen for me, and I was able to play an active role in determining the outcome of the course.

What were you looking for in your course?
One of the most important things was postgraduate scholarship opportunities. I found many places didn’t cater to this particular population of students, and it was discouraging, but NTU didn’t discriminate between undergraduate and postgraduate students and instead offered opportunities for both to receive financial assistance.

What modules, topics and projects have you particularly enjoyed or found useful?
While I enjoyed the diversity of the lectures in my core module, I’ve particularly enjoyed my optional modules – Fiction and Children’s/Young Adult Fiction – where I’ve been challenged to develop as a writer and an editor, learning not only to receive criticism, but also to give constructive feedback to my peers.

How has this MA differed from your previous experience of studying?
NTU offers an environment where you can thrive as an independent academic. The learning opportunities are seemingly endless, but ultimately the choice of how much I take advantage of everything rests in my lap. I know my lecturers want me to succeed, but how much I’m able to take away from the course is determined by me. It has truly caused me to appreciate my education. The libraries are great too; I was thrilled at not only the expansive content of the Boots and Clifton libraries, but also the 24-hour access.

How have you found the postgraduate community in Nottingham?
I have been blown away by it. I’ve never encountered so many academically-driven students as I have here. My best friends from Nottingham are both international postgraduate students as well. It’s incredible to know that even when I leave Nottingham, I’ll still have friends from all over the world.

What has been your greatest achievement as a postgraduate student so far?
The tangible feeling of success I receive biweekly from workshops. I am always able to take something away that helps me mature as an author. There isn’t really an opportunity to remain stagnant because I am constantly rewarded with the fruit of my diligence with critical, yet constructive commentary. I don’t know if this necessarily qualifies as my “greatest achievement” but it’s a great success in my opinion.

What are your plans for the future?
My goal is to become an author of books that focus on spiritual growth, raising awareness of human rights issues such as human trafficking, and international missions.

Creative Writing courses at Nottingham Trent University

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