Give yourself well deserved space…

Life can get daunting sometimes., especially when everything piles on like the sizable amount of dishes that you’ve left in your kitchen since last Sunday. In situations like that, it’s very easy to lose yourself. Whilst on the one hand you have so much stuff to do… The sheer amount of it leaves you exasperated on the couch, most likely with a tub of Ben and Jerrys ice cream. Sound familiar?

As a student, I can guarantee that my life is currently racing along the tracks with no brakes…I have hardly any time for myself. I look at the bags under my eyes and can’t help but feel helpless at myself. I’m an engineering student. My degree owns me. There’s nothing more to say. Still, I enjoy it. There’s this incredible sense of satisfaction when I derive a fluids equation, trust me, even nerds would find that nerdy! I love my course and yes, it’s a dysfunctional relationship but I can’t let go.

I say that and it seems as if all I think about is my course. Whilst that’s true for majority of the day…sometimes I need a break from it all. I just need to let myself out of this continuous cycle of work, sleep and eat. On a side note, whilst writing this post, I’ve started to realise just how similar degrees are to relationships and being in both I can tell you that it’s important to give yourself some personal space. Even if it’s just few hours to yourself. You need to let yourself breathe otherwise you’ll soon find yourself asphyxiated by the workload…

This weekend, as rare as it sounds, I decided to follow my own advice and take a break. I went to Durham to visit a friend and had a brilliant time. I could have stayed at home and watched several episodes of house but that doesn’t give me a break from my work or my life. I’m still inside the closed walls and I just don’t feel like I’m allowing myself time to be myself. One of the things I enjoy doing is travelling and seeing the world. So you can imagine that staying at home makes me incredibly agitated. I want to go out. I want to see places!

So Durham was exactly what I needed. The air was refreshing and the view was fantastic. Durham is such a beautiful little place. In fact, I felt I had time travelled to the time of kings and queens and almost expected knights in the market square. I was bitterly disappointed.

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I felt that because I had taken that time off from work I could return to it feeling a lot more motivated. I was ready to start again. Based on this, I’ve decided I’m going to allow myself personal time. I can’t afford trips to different parts of England, partly because I just don’t have the time to do so, but I can afford two-weekly creative saturday mornings at the local coffee shop… I usually work at coffee shops but I’ve always wanted to read or draw there. It’s such a creative atmosphere. So let’s see!

How would you like to live?

Comfortably? Luxurioisly? Simplistically?

Actually the answer is not that simple. The reason is that all of these things are dependent on a persons personal view in life. It all comes down to what do you want to spend the rest of your life doing…

I could argue with hundreds of people about their choices in life. For me, it’s been very straightforward because I like to have a definition. For me, it’s always been about experiencing the world and choosing a path that allows me to make a difference in the world. I know I’m going to die someday and I want to die having been content with the life I’ve lived to the best of my ability. What I mean by that is, all the circumstances that I could have controlled, I want to ensure I do something that’s worth it. Again, that means I want to make a change in the lives of people whether it is by teaching, by engineering sustainable designs, or by working at a orphanage home in Africa. It doesn’t matter what I do, how skilled my job is, how much money I earn as long as I am constantly on that one path. Because that’s what I’m all about…

But hang on a minute… Does money really not matter to me?

This is what really bugs me and it’s something I can’t get my head around… My friend and I used to have several break downs at college because we kept trying to fight the “system” but the system kept finding us. By “system” we mean to say the say the way the world works. How we are expected to get a job, earn money and settle in a home, how the government runs. And basically, we are all part of a system…a set of laws that govern our lives. whether we want to leave or stay in them, our freedom of choice is extremely limited because there is no freedom. It’s best explained with an example: Tomorrow if I wake up and leave university I can’t do that… Your right in thinking that I’m perfectly capable of leaving my university…that’s true…but I have consequences to suffer. I won’t get a job that I can sustain my family with…similarly, once I graduate, I will have to get a job because otherwise how am I going to survive in the world? Where am I going to get money from?

So I realised that I couldn’t escape the future. What was coming was inevitable… But I still didn’t want to lose my passion, my attitude and my dreams. Maybe there’s a way to do both? And I think that’s the best way forward here…whilst on the one hand I know I have to earn enough money to survive, I don’t just want that to govern my life. I still want to be able to do many many things that are not dependent on money and I hope that one day I will be able to do that…

That’s the reason why I think it’s important to understand that money is not a solid possession. It flows from pocket to pocket. Money is simply a means of buying something or doing something. Then why should one accumulate it in a bank?

Oh oh. And we have reached another barrier! Am I suggesting we should just throw away cash? That would be incredibly stupid! Because on the one hand, yes, there is a possibility that you might die tomorrow but there is a greater possibility that you are going to live. And if you’ve just used up everything you need to survive the month, you’ve put yourself in an incredibly tight situation!

So actually… On the one hand, you should give yourself the freedom to live on the edge, to go out, to experience the world…but with caution because you want to plan for the future too! And that’s where people struggle the most. What is enough? How much should one save and still spend? In my situation, I have to think if after I pay the bills, mortgage, living costs, will I have enough money to travel to a country on a volunteering trip?

I guess, we just have to realise we can’t have everything! We have to take things slowly and make small changes… But definitely make time for ourselves. I don’t want to live miserably. But with careful planning, I definitely think it’s possible to work with the system here and yet, look back on your life and say you’ve done well for yourself…

Are lectures in engineering the best way to teach?

Currently, I’m a first year student studying engineering in London. For me, going to university has always been a path I wanted to pursue. I consider myself to be someone that loves the prospect of learning and I’ve always enjoyed school and college. I have hated it at times, yes, and I have wanted to give up education and travel, yes…but majority of the times I enjoy being exposed to knew things.
When I found out I was accepted in university, especially the university of my choice, I jumped excitedly in the air. This was it. This was the moment. University! I can finally do it.

I dreamt about how engineering would be. In my mind, I had the perfect professors. Finally I could be with experts in the field and I knew that they would have the best explanations. Finally I could engage in deep, long discussions with teachers and learn so much about different physical and engineering applications.

I imagined a course lecturer being a person of character, of thrilling passion…a person that drove me forward to study my field further. I imagined practical engineering…I thought maybe my lecturer will be someone that forgets about books and talks about the physics and the maths. I thought he/she would be able to answer anything we wanted to know.

Most of all, I thought the lecturer would be free to talk about whatever he/she wanted to teach that day and truly explain the topic.

Unfortunately, what I experienced was the exact opposite. I don’t know what it is. Maybe I don’t like lectures. I don’t like the thought of pointless noise for hours and hours. What’s there to learn if someone just talks at you? Perhaps I prefer discussions. I like the thought of a lecture of my dreams. Where instead of telling us what goes on, we are asked to question what goes on. I like a lecture where I’m engaging myself with the course like I’m supposed to do.

I mean… Are lectures supposed to interest me or bore me to death?

As time went on, I learned to be more pro-active in my lectures. I focused more, I took notes. But all that did in my opinion was get stuff in my head. I still didn’t feel excited. Truth is, whenever a new topic was introduced there was no passion! If my lecturers didn’t feel the passion for the subject, then why teach it?

So I thought, maybe its just my university. Turned out, all my friends studying engineering or any other degree in any university felt the same…

So I accepted my faith. Lectures were meant to be boring, I guess. But I don’t like this. I feel like we should encourage the lecturers to be more passionate for their subject…teach me the theory! Discuss with me the flow of air around a wing. Tell me about how a beam bends…don’t just do the question as if its something you have to do…

Maybe that’s why I don’t think lectures are a good idea for practical subjects. We want to learn what’s happening… Maybe we need a different approach here? Any thoughts??

PS: I still love my course and my university… I only meant to question the style of teaching in this post.

A beautiful song and a little perspective…

I want to cry when I listen to this song but I stop myself from doing so. This is not because it is a sad reality that some people don’t have half the things I take for granted but because it’s inspiring for me to be living around so many different people. It’s inspiring to see people achieve so much with so little. I mean someday’s I’m guilty for thinking that my life is so difficult and hard – and then I come across videos like these and I tell myself to step back a little – wait a minute, this little boy can’t see… this little boy finds day to day things difficult.

When I saw the theory of everything (SPOILER ALERT), there was this one scene that absolutely got to me – it was when they portray Stephen Hawking dreaming of walking, of picking up a pen and handing it to someone and not having to sit in a chair everyday… something that you would do without even thinking about it.

When I went to Rwanda over Christmas, I had a brilliant cultural experience out there – I was able to see so many different lives but there was one village there that had little to nothing in it. There was hardly any clean water. So I thought back to my “difficult and challenging” life; I could live without any of this but to live without clean water and food? Now, that’s difficult.

Thing is, in life everyone has a different journey, some more difficult than others – some more demanding, some more cruel. It’s really important to get some perspective. It’s important to see the world differently.. to learn to appreciate all that you have…to take the view away from you and your life… maybe, just maybe, things may not seem so bad anymore.

Please watch this video below:

Boy sings a beautiful song…

A change in attitude

Being at university feels incredibly intimidating. I don’t feel quite as happy as I used to feel even though I still am happy all the time. There’s something about the crowd that scares me.

There are students here that work incredibly hard and students here that rarely sleep… However, there are students here that seem to have such a dynamic social life. They are part of so many different activities and I’m sure it controls so much of their time. Sometimes I hardly ever socialise and I’m still further behind in most subjects. It seems as if all my efforts are useless…and sometimes it feels as if I really am not putting any effort into the subject at all.

I’ve started distancing myself from the people I work with. Its so demotivating to hear how much someone has studied or how much someone is ahead when you are so far behind. I don’t know if I can keep listening to all that without feeling worse about my own pace. And that’s not all, I feel that if I advertise that I’m studying at lunch, its even more demotivating to do badly even though you do so much work.

So maybe, distancing myself is the best solution. I don’t want to know what chapter you are up to because I don’t want to compare our abilities. Eventually I have to pass my course and I have to pass it at my own pace right?

I think a lot of what I am feeling is because of self confidence. Confidence is a really important part of you. It controls how you act and behave but also how psychologically you perform. Your response to situations and your ability to carry out an act is largely dependent on how confident you are to be able to do it. It may seem a little bit strange, and I think it is a little bit strange how closely linked these two are, but its important.

After Christmas happened, I suddenly felt really confident that I could pass my course. I felt determined and I felt excited. It was my dream to pass the course. I stopped doubting myself because I somehow intrinsically knew. I don’t know how it happened but I think it was because I was out of the stressful lifestyle and moved at my own pace.

I am the sort of person whose performance in a situation, be it academia, is very closely linked to how happy and satisfied I am with my own ability. I like to judge myself as someone that enjoys challenges but sometimes, if something is too overwhelmingly challenging, I don’t know what to do with myself.

This is what I experienced most of the last term… I’m still scared now but I am more determined. A persons determination and hard work is what defines a persons position.

Hardwork got me this far…so why not further? So I guess I’ve learned that when you are at your lowest in terms of work load, that isn’t down to your ability but it is down to your response to the situation. Instead of breaking down at the overwhelming amount of shit you have to do (which does help calm us down), focus on changing your attitude.

I used to give up every time questions were difficult. I’ve changed that now… I look at the question as a challenge. Just how I used to do before the stress got to me! And I’m in a much better position this term because of it.

Feeling older perhaps…

I’m not too sure what it is lately – but things have changed. I’ve started to feel stronger about my passions and my future. I feel like I’m more in control about everything that is going on around me. Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe getting a grip on things again is helpful. After all, most of my first term at university was a terrifically stressful time of my life. Not only did I start losing myself, I started losing connections with people. Normal things were difficult for me; doing the dishes was suddenly a gigantic pain in the arse, getting up to get my books was more difficult than climbing up Everest.

Everything piled.

It piled.

And piled.

And kept on piling.

Until the whole pile fell to pieces and left me shattered on the ground.

It was a state of crisis for me. I was undergoing so many mind processes and half the time I couldn’t convince myself to keep on pushing through. It’s hard not to be intimidated by the people around you. It’s hard not to feel useless around so many world-class geniuses in a world-class institution. And when the intelligence in your college isn’t enough, you return home to more intellectual chatter for meal time. I stopped cooking too… I was surviving on day old pizzas and muffins.

But I don’t know… something changed over Christmas. I guess it’s hard to say… I think it was mainly travelling to Rwanda that changed everything. I visited Rwanda to work on some projects as part of a society at Imperial college. Being physically responsible for changes in the lives of people made me feel like I was able to accomplish anything. I simply wanted to try…

I guess I’m not scared any more… just ready to take on whatever life’s going to throw at me.

Silent Kareoke in the Library!

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Every now and again I like to listen to cheesiest, happiest songs just so I can sing to them! The dramatic in me finds the need to sing at every moment… or just randomly burst into song. I think I must have been a stage artist in my previous life or something… It’s just such a damn shame that I can’t sing at all! I think I am tone deaf or something

Anyway, I’m recommending this as my stress-relief strategy fellow student friends! Even if it’s just for 10 minutes. I think it genuinely works to get all the emotion out of you – even if it is just very silently so that you look like the maniac in the library. Yes, that’s right, I’m rocking out in the library.

Okay maybe I’m slightly weird…

Actually scratch that – I’m definitely weird.

*disappears and continues singing James Blunt*