Alumni Services

Nicole Calleja

To help realise her dream of becoming an educational psychologist, Nicole Calleja came to Edinburgh to complete an MSc in Inclusive Education. Now back in her native Malta, she reflects on her time at the University and returning to full-time work during a pandemic.


Nicole Calleja

Degree MSc Inclusive Education
Year of graduation 2020
Nicole Calleja

At the moment

I’m back home with my family in Malta, a tiny island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Even though I’m working on a full-time basis, I’m making it a point to enjoy every single day during the hot, sunny summer months.

Your time at the University

Not going to lie, I was very anxious to set off on this venture and I only found the courage to do so thanks to the great emotional support and encouragement I found from family and friends.

Well, it definitely was a year I will never forget! Travelling alone for a year to study was already a big deal for me, then throw Covid-19 into the mix and you know – unforgettable!

I’ve always found joy when working with children, ever since I was a teenager, and this reflects in my work experience and studies. I graduated in Psychology from my local University and aim to become an educational psychologist; however before doing so, I wanted to learn more about inclusive education to give myself a more holistic understanding within my field.

Not going to lie, I was very anxious to set off on this venture and I only found the courage to do so thanks to the great emotional support and encouragement I found from family and friends. I chose the University of Edinburgh because of all the positive things I had heard about it from friends, and the fact that the city and University are absolutely beautiful helped a lot too!

I have to say, I will always remember this year as one where I learned so much. Even the chaos of Covid-19 taught me a lot! It made me push myself to limits I didn’t know I had, used coping skills I never had before, balanced academics, deadlines and stress during lockdown and made me appreciate how good we had it before all of this.

Thanks to my programme, I met people I never would have had the opportunity to meet - some of which I’m still in contact with today; I was taught by incredible lecturers who are very highly admired in my field - some of which I had cited in assignments in my undergrad! Little did I know that they’d lecture me a few years later. And I was given the opportunity to learn about different cultures and ideologies surrounding inclusive education.

Academics aside, I also joined societies within the University, which I loved! And I got to experience life in Edinburgh- all the history, culture, music, parties, sunsets and greenery. I wouldn’t change my experience for anything!

Your experiences since leaving the University

Since being back, I returned to my job as a psychology assistant in an educational setting. My job involves providing psycho-educational assessments and literacy assessments to students with individual educational needs (also known as additional needs/special needs) under supervision of an Educational Psychologist as well as consulting with school staff and parents. I support and work with children, adolescents and their families who present diverse needs and strengths, such as children and adolescents diagnosed with dyslexia, ADHD, ASD, Social Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (SEBD) and learning disabilities and provide them with Individual Educational Programmes and adaptations/arrangements to make their academic experience equitable to that of mainstream students.

As soon as I returned to work, I had to quarantine again for two weeks, the timing was horrible- I had just finished working on my dissertation, hadn’t been meeting my friends much because of my dissertation, and just got back to work and had to tell them that I needed to quarantine, which I felt pretty guilty about. Even though I thought I'd find it really hard to get through, it turned into the perfect break between my year of studies and returning to work. I read, relaxed, caught up on series, listened to music and found time to really reflect and de-stress!

As cheesy as it sounds, I’m really proud of myself for managing to cope and get through the rest of 2020 and beginning of 2021, as well as for using all my newly learned knowledge and skills to my advantage at work and in my everyday life too. 

And being part of the Edinburgh community has allowed me to continue accessing research papers, articles, books etc, which have been greatly beneficial to my work and everyday life.

Life during Covid-19

Covid-19 definitely made me reassess my life! It made me appreciate all the things that I took for granted on a daily basis - my health, my social life, access to healthcare, education, travel and being able to go out without a mask. It also made me realise how important quality time with my family was because so many people were losing their family members to Covid-19. In all honesty, there was a point where I questioned why I didn’t just quit my job and travel the world but when I stopped and thought about all my life choices, I realised that this was just me reacting to the overwhelming emotions that Covid-19 brought up.

Alumni Wisdom

Don't let self-doubt and fear control you - believe in yourself! Even though it can be stressful, overwhelming and academically challenging, university can also be some of the most inspiring, fun and interesting years of your life. Focus on your academic studies but also focus on exploring the city, meeting people and appreciating every moment while there. 

Related links

Moray House School of Education and Sport