Two weeks before my final Semester A exams at Otago University, I wasn’t studying to get my place into medicine; which was and still is my biggest dream in life. Instead, I was sorting out all the paperwork to exceptionally withdraw from my papers and residence at my hall (Te Rangi Hiroa College) as well as apply to study at Waikato and do a Bachelor of Social Science and major in Psychology.
Ironic as it sounds, the main reason why I had to withdraw from my papers, was because I wasn’t psychologically fit or I wasn’t in the ‘right set of mind’. This doesn’t mean I’m crazy or anything, (I’m still sane I swear!) rather, there are challenges that I need to face and overcome and accounts that I need to reflect on as well; also my health and well being was not the best either, so with all these in mind and my homesickness, I thought that it was best for me to stay with family. However, I could tell you that it was not an easy decision.
Like I’ve mentioned before, being a doctor has been a dream of mine, ever since I was little actually (cliche for an asian I know). Not only that, but everyone knew about this dream, my family, friends, family friends, teachers, peers, the community and the people who gave me scholarships. In fact, I made promises to them and I haven’t broken my promise (…yet; hopefully never!); I’m just taking a long way round and getting a degree first and then afterwards, I apply as a graduate and hopefully I get accepted into medicine. But before I had made the dramatic decision, I had prayed istikhara and the next day, everything- all the paperwork and meetings were made easy. There was nothing that could have stopped or prevented me; it was like my leaving Otago and starting anew was meant to be.
I wouldn’t have made this decision if my situation was not serious and the fact that my exceptional withdrawal was approved (alhamdulilah), confirmed it, as while at university, it is extremely difficult for it to be accepted unless you have a really good (exceptional) and valid reason. Also it was difficult for me to come to the decision as my parents had sacrificed their child to live sepeartely from them which is a big deal for Muslim parents as normally the daughters are supposed to live with them until they are married; not to mention the time and money my hardworking parents had spent. Therefore, this was the most and only selfish decison I had ever made; rather than thinking about other people and dissappointing them, I finally thought about myself and did what I thought was best for me. Like what Oprah Winfrey says: “What is the next right move?”
Nontheless, I packed my bags and got ready to move back home. Around this time, nobody really knew what was going on and it wasnt until just more than a week that I had told my friends down at Otago. During my stay at Te Rangi Hiroa (the best one there is at Otago University (ensuites anyone?)), I was staying in the ‘female only wing’ where there was nine of us girls. I loved it and I loved them, we had our little ‘sisterhood’ and we built relationships which I hope will last a lifetime. When I broke to them the news, most of them were in shock and we cried and talked and I will always forever be grateful to have beautiful and intelligent friends like them in my life (you have no idea how much I miss them and Dunedin right now). Slowly more and more people knew and it was really sad for me to leave and to be honest, I still can’t believe that I’m not at Otago anymore and that I am currently studying at Waikato.
It has been two weeks and I can genuinely say that I love it here. It is different, it is exciting; it is a fresh start for me. Before I started university I had to buy my very first own car so that I am able to commute every weekday where I would park my car near the Gallegher Arts Centre. Although it’s a far walk from my lectures, I deliberatly park there for three reasons: (1) I need to do more excercise, (2) to get to campus/my lectures I have to walk through a gardeny area which makes me happy becasue I love nature, therefore it gives me a postive start to the day and (3) I could sit infront of the lake, and figure out and write down all the tasks in my diary that I had to do for that day and also so that I won’t forget to do anything (because I am a pro at forgetting; fml).
On the first day at Waikato University I explored/literally walked all over campus (and got lost a couple of times) and it really is a beautiful campus so I couldn’t help but smile all day (I swear at the end of the day my cheeks were hurting). It had actually felt good for me to be there, like I was meant to study at Waikto University and quite frankly, there was not a day at Otago where I felt that way.
No offence to Otago University but the facillities are much better at Waikato and in my opinion, the vibe was totally different; I couldnt feel the tension or the stress radiating from students like I had experienced down in Dunners as everyone seemed relaxed here (or maybe it’s just the start of the semester and the assignments or tests hasn’t kicked in yet?). Also it felt like it was much easier for me to approach people and make new friends. For instance, on the first day, I was on the balcony area of the Student Centre enjoying my honey, lemon and ginger tea with my scone (even the cafe food served on campus here is better) when I saw two people (a girl and a boy) inside looking out, to see if there were any tables, there weren’t, so I motioned them to sit with me. It turned out that it was the girls’ birthday and now everytime we see each other and we’re with someone else we joke about how we met and how I was a ‘gift from God’ on her birthday. LOL. However, since Waikato is close to my hometown it meant that most of my friends from college/highschool went to the same university and because Waikato is quite a small university as well, it’s common for me to always bump into someone and explain to them what the hell I’m doing at Waikato and not at Otago. But I don’t mind really, in fact it’s always good to catch up with people unexpectedly.
At Otago I was doing the competitive Health Science First Year course to hopefully get into med the next year and that meant that all of my papers had already been determined for me. However at Waikato, with my bachelors degree, I had total freedom to choose whatever papers I wanted to do with timetable clashes as my only limitation. I have to admit that some of my papers that I had intially wanted to do did clash but I don’t mind as so far I am loving and enjoying all the papers that I am enrolled in.
For the first time ever, in what seems like years, I finally enjoy learning and I am engaged as I don’t have the need to look at my phone during lectures. Therefore when you pick papers, or pick a course for university, make sure to choose something that you would really enjoy as you are setting yourself up for a career that you will most likely do for the rest of your life. You do not want to hate studying all those years in university only to work for a job that you hate, you will end up hating yourself and your life. Period.
So what are the papers that I am loving so much you ask? They are: PSYC102 (Social and Development Psychology), PHIL150 (The Big Questions: An Introduction to Philosphy), POLS105 (People and Public Policy) and WGST101 (Women in Society: Representations and Realities). And what made me choose these particular papers? Well, for starters, I chose to major in psychology as I had always found the study of the mind or the soul extremely interesting and I enjoy talking and helping people and if I don’t get into medicine then it’s okay as I would go on to do Clinical psychology instead and I know that I would be happy as I would still be able to help people and make a difference in their life. Philosophy was a no brainer for me to select as I am a lover of wisdom and it gets me to actually think in a deeper level; one of the key topics that we have been talking about is: ‘Is there a God?’ and it’s interesting to have my faith tested on an intellectual level becasue it’s a fact that I am the only Hijabi in the class but no matter what I have heard in my lectures or read in the readings, it doesn’t change my belief that there is a God, Allah. This is because I believe that when it comes to religion, you should go with your heart more than you do with your brain. People and Public Policy was another course I had wanted to do as I had always been interested with politics (having met and discussed issues with members of parliaments myslef in the past) and I could see myself trying out to be a politican as I want to give back to New Zealand as it has given me so many opportunities. Finally I chose my Women Gender Studies course as I am a feminist and it sets an even bigger fire to my soul to hate men. JOKES. But I could really relate to the course and I think it will help me with future projects as hopefully one day I am able to help young females grow up to be beautiful and strong women. I feel like with all the courses that I am taking this semester, it will help build a foundation with what I really want to achieve in life. I strongly believe that success isn’t ending up being the person everyone expects you to be or making a lot of money, I think that success is growing up to be who you really want to be, without letting anything stop you from your goal(s) and enjoying what you are doing in life.
Overall, moving back home and starting fresh at Waikato University might be the best descicion that I have ever made in my eighteen (and very soon nineteen!) years of life.
(N.B: I may have made it sound like I had a terrible time in the South Island but I really had enjoyed Otago as I made so many new friends and made so many good memories and don’t get me started on how beautiful Dunedin is with its beaches and views from the many hills surrounding the city. Also shout out to Khalish, I hope you don’t mind me using your Instagram bio as the title of this blog post. xx)