BY DANIYAL ADMANY (CTIS/II)
For most of us, a new role in life presents a variety of challenges and some surprises, too. Advice from someone who’s already been there can help get us through the rough spots. In the case of university students, who better than seniors to offer the benefit of their experience?
This week, Gozeel Binte Shahid, a fourth-year Molecular Biology student, gives advice as to how this year’s freshmen can make their university lives a bit easier and less complicated.
Q. What advice would you give freshmen about the Bilkent experience?
I think freshman year at Bilkent can be very overwhelming for both Turkish and international students. This university has its own grandeur as well as some quirks, and when you first arrive it’s easy to feel overcome by a flurry of emotions. However, if you find the right friends and are satisfied with your academic choices, Bilkent can soon become a home away from home. My advice would be to try and achieve that; make sure you are ready, eager and capable of doing the work in the department you have chosen here. Also, find the right people to befriend. University still has its fair share of high school drama, but it also has friendships that will last you a lifetime. Bilkent in particular is a wonderful environment to socialize in due to its being an international university. It offers a wide array of perspectives, cultures, attitudes and customs for one to get to know about. I would strongly advise both international and Turkish students to socialize outside their own nationality. It can seem easier and more comfortable to stick to your own people; however, cross-cultural friendships have a charm of their own. Some of my best friends from Bilkent are not Pakistani, and I know now that these are bonds I will cherish forever.
Q. What’s something one should keep in mind throughout their time at Bilkent?
One of the most important things one will need to learn in order to survive at Bilkent is how to strike a balance between doing work and having fun. I’ve seen that most people who are going through a tough time during the semester have failed to keep this balance. Letting yourself get consumed by academics can soon make you feel desolate, which will further reduce your capacity to study. On the other hand, living the party life throughout the semester may keep your spirits up – but only until you get your transcript. A scholarship student has to maintain a certain GPA, and hence there is an academic responsibility for such students. So you would do well to keep a sort of mental check on your activities to make sure that they’re equally distributed between academics and socializing. Another thing to keep in mind is that Bilkent will give you some highs and some lows; both can leave a lasting impact. You must remember to continue your struggle during your lows and, as well, to live in the moment during your highs. In retrospect you’ll learn that the hard times have helped you get wiser, and the good times are a memory worth keeping.
Q. Any tips or tricks to surviving life at Bilkent?
Bilkent provides a multitude of services, and I think one should definitely take advantage of that. It has one of the best libraries around, as well as gym facilities, workout programs such as Zumba, free transport to various areas in the city, and so on. Don’t overlook any of these amenities; make use of them. The STARS page is much more than just SRS; it also includes course offerings, teacher evaluations, etc. I should take my own advice here, but if you’re interested in attending events like seminars and plays, don’t ignore those annoying BAIS emails. On a more informal level, there are Facebook pages where Bilkent students interact, so if you ever feel like reaching out to others on some matter or for advice regarding courses, that platform is always available. Additionally, for international students, if you have a problem adjusting to the local food, do bring spices from back home (Pakistanis, I’m looking at you). If you’re going through a tough time, or ever feel like talking about something, I’m willing to help. Gradually, you’ll learn more tips and tricks for surviving at Bilkent that will be shaped by your personal experiences. But it’s imperative that you experience things on your own and learn how to deal with situations. One last tip I can provide is, don’t compromise, but, on the other hand, learn where you have to. At university it’s really important to hold your own and to preserve your ideologies, but it’s equally important to let life teach you some vital lessons.
Q. One word about your experience at Bilkent so far?
Amat victoria curam.