if anyone had told me last year that i would be studying English Literature at one of the prettiest campuses in London, i wouldn’t have believed them.

i hadn’t studied the subject since my GCSEs, had no idea how to write essays for the subject past the ones i’d done for Of Mice and Men, An Inspector Calls and the poems in the Moon on the Tides anthology.

i’d always enjoyed studying English Literature during my GCSEs; i preferred it to English Language — and in November 2018 when i’d been studying Psychology at Middlesex University, i began to realise just how much i missed reading books and analysing the shit out of them.

so i began to read books again.

and i spoke to a few friends, telling them that i really missed English and i wanted to study it again. around this time, i’d actually stopped going into uni — the journey was so tiring, and although i’d been getting 85% in all my essays, i knew i couldn’t study Psychology for the next seven years to go into the career path i wanted. especially when it wasn’t a guarantee that i would get a job in that field.

after exhaustive research, scouring the internet for tips, reading more books, i wrote and rewrote my personal statement. and then i told my cousin Najaha about it. of all my cousins, she’s the only one that doesn’t piss me off.

she understood where i was coming from and didn’t go off on one because i’d wasted another year.

submitting my personal statement to UCAS was a nerve-wracking experience, but i knew what to expect, since i’d done it the year before. three days later, i got an unconditional offer from the university i’m at now.

now, i’m halfway through my first year, done with my first term, and i’m remembering how much i hoped and prayed to get here. because although i have skipped a few lectures, i’ve enjoyed every moment of this course.

one thing i’ve really learnt is that as humans, we have the innate desire for everything we do not have. we’re impatient and want it all now, but the moment it is in our reach and we’re able to grab hold of it, we want the Next Big Thing.

it’s a terrible flaw, yet it is one pretty much most of us have nonetheless. because right now, i just want to graduate already.

over the past three months, i have had to read 4 books, 3 plays and 2 poetry anthologies, not including the 8 short stories. some, i’ve had to read within a day. out of these first few longer novels, the only one i truly enjoyed was Jane Eyre.

i’ll admit, i find the reading list to be a little restrictive and mostly eurocentric, focusing on the writing of white authors, Christianity and elitism. but the thing is, i knew the reading list would be like this before i chose to study English Literature. and maybe i am not a fan of Shakespeare, but i will have to put my distaste for him and his work aside, because this is a subject i’ve chosen and defended to everyone who said i was wasting yet another year and once again changing my mind.

there are lectures i haven’t attended, seminars i’ve skipped. of all my thursday lectures seminars i’ve had since september, i’ve only been to three. of all the friday seminars, i’ve only been to four.

but i haven’t fallen behind and i’ve kept up with all my work. i’ve been achieving the grades i want, for some i’d gotten higher than i expected to. and though i’m not exactly thrilled with the reading list, i am able to do my own secondary reading and bringing in my own choice of books to discuss in comparison.

the thing i love about studying at university level is that allows me to reach beyond what is provided in front of me and do my own research. it gives me the opportunity to study what i love and what i dislike, read into the meanings of all the books and dissect them in what i write about it. i’m able to be vocal and passionate.

i am given so much room to move around, explore the ideas that i have, and to talk to my lecturers and seminar leaders about any essay topics i may have or the books i would rather talk about. taking risks are fucking terrifying, but that’s what growing up and adulting is about: doing what you’re scared of.

it means taking that leap, even when you don’t know what’s waiting for you at the bottom.

because it is only with the risks that you take, that you will get success.

ultimately, there have been weeks where i’d been drained and tired of reading, but i’d have Nahima and Shajjy to remind me to persevere through the exhaustion and hard times, i’d remind myself i have people to prove wrong and myself to make proud.

i’ve skipped more lectures than i should have (after that first time, it gets a little addictive), but i’ve continued to do what i came to this university to do and so far, i’ve gotten what i wanted and am forging a path for myself that i intend to keep climbing. with dedication, passion and commitment.

because i’m here and i plan to be all in. because i’ll graduate with a First Class honours or die trying.

and as for my social life in university, i’ve made some friends. they’re there. however as a first year university student, there comes that intense pressure to fit in quickly and be as social as possible.

i’ve never truly been the kind of person who gets influenced quickly by other people, or at all, i’m old enough to know myself and know better, to be able to make my own choices.

i’ve been through my fair share of battles and drama with friends, but the one thing that still pisses me off to this day, is how some people are incapable of accepting responsibility for their actions or realising how bad a decision was.

when you’re going out drinking with friends, whether that involves going to a club or pub crawl or house party or whatever else, do. not. fucking. leave. your. friend.

not unless you know they’re safe.

you do not ever ever EVER leave them to go home in a taxi, that isn’t registered to a big corporate company (eg Uber), alone.

go with them. and if you still want to party, then you go back. but please for the love of god, don’t leave your drunk friend alone, especially when they’re in such a vulnerable state. when anything could happen.

and then don’t use being drunk as an excuse whilst simultaneously contradicting yourself, eg “i always know what i’m doing when i’m drunk and i take care of myself and my friends, so idk what happened” then say “i was so drunk and wasn’t thinking clearly, i’m sorry if i was a bad friend”.

first of all, an apology is not an apology with the word if included.

second of all, if you always know what you’re doing when you’re drunk then why would you leave your vulnerable DRUNK friend alone?

thirdly, saying things like “we thought that was the best decision” is utter bullshit. in what world is leaving someone when they can’t even walk or stand without wobbling or falling over the “best decision”?

things like this honestly just get on my nerves and this blog post has turned in a little different direction, and more ranty than anything. that wasn’t my intention and i am sorry about that, and i do hope that there is a lesson from that rant that you all heed.

do. not. leave. drunk. friends. alone.

anything could happen. it’s dangerous as fuck.

one more thing, surround yourself with friends who challenge you individually and intellectually, who challenge your mindset and behaviour. who want the best for you. friends like that are hard to come by, but they’re the best ones.

i’m grateful to have a friend at uni who always makes sure to send me any notes i’ve missed, who signs me in when i’m not able to attend (or just can’t be bothered), who makes me want to be a better version intellectually and study a hell of a lot more.

speaking of studying a hell of a lot more, i start my second term next week, i still have a few books to read + two movies to watch. i’m excited to get back into the swing of attending seminars and lectures, even though i’ll probably end up skipping my 9ams.

but even if i do, i’ll still ace this year. and the next. and the next.

Sumaiya, x

Posted by:Sumaiya Ahmed

Sumaiya Ahmed is a student, poet and freelance features journalist, aiming to break down the boundaries of cultural stigma and shame attached to mental health and sexuality within the South Asian culture, and bringing marginalised topics to light. She is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Poised.

10 thoughts on “A Look Back on My First Term

  1. hehe i like the shade in this post. who knew it was possible to be botla and stupid. and yes the key to success really is surrounding urself with people who support and push you to do your best. it’s scary cos i wanna do history at uni which i haven’t done since gcse either but this gave me hope that it might just be doable. heheh loved it !!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lmao thanks bebz! but it’s the god honest truth. and honestly, if u want to do history, do it! make your personal statement bang!! that’s the key and what will determine whether you get accepted or not. you’ll easily ace the course at college. it is doable, trust me! thank you, shuna moyna xx

      Like

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