My Journey at Queen's
Final year Electrical Engineering and Electronics student Fiza Tareen, from Pakistan, talks about her journey at Queen's and the opportunities that allowed her to develop into the person she is today.
The most unusual feeling about coming to the end of my time at university is that the past four years have faded in the blink of an eye and yet have been the most thrilling years of my life.
I still clearly remember the day I was packing my whole wardrobe into one suitcase to come to Belfast back in 2017. Today February 2021, I am two months away from graduation and have a list of deadlines piled in front of me. Every night I walk back from the McClay library tired and restless, yet what keeps me going is how adventurous my time at university has been. If I were to meet a first-year student today the advice that would come from me is: Work hard, push yourself and take hold of every opportunity that comes your way but don’t forget to enjoy and celebrate your achievements.
I myself was a very naïve and immature 19-year-old when I came from Pakistan and I can proudly look back and say that I have grown up here. Here’s how I achieved what I am today.
University life can be very challenging and exciting at the same time. You might have a very busy workload one day and the next day you might be out and about exploring the new city you’re in. You’re far from home and you’re meeting new people every day. Friends are turning into family or will soon be since you’re practically living with them all the time. In all these moments it is important to be yourself. Don’t force yourself into some activity or something you won’t like. Just do what feels right and enjoy it. You also get to learn how important time is, so following your gut in a lot of things will make you use your time efficiently.
Say “YES” and grab the opportunity
One thing I learnt at Queen’s is to say “Yes” more. Take hold of every opportunity that comes your way even if sometimes you will have to push yourself out of your comfort zone because it’ll be worth it. Queen’s offers a wide variety of sports and student clubs which run throughout the year and as a student you always need time out of your books and lectures.
Learning a new sport is the best way to do this. I myself got to take up squash and tennis at Queen’s which I never had the chance to play before. These were an excellent way to socialise and make new friends. Saying yes got me the opportunity to take the role of the International Student Ambassador and the President of the EEECS Internationalisation Student Society.
Nothing takes you out of your comfort zone more than being exposed to diversity. I transformed from a person who was uncomfortable in large crowds to one who could conduct a campus tour, sit in meetings, express myself and chat with prospective students. Communication is a primary aspect of this role. I learned the art of understanding and constructing a community where no one is hesitant to speak.
Don’t be frustrated, take responsibility
Leaving the comfort of your house can be a challenge, especially when you’re juggling your assignments, trying to experiment to cook first time, managing your groceries so you don’t run out of snacks for long study sessions, doing your laundry and keeping your surroundings clean and tidy for when your parents video call you.
It’s easy to get frustrated by the amount of tasks you have to do in a day but don’t worry too much. We all feel like this sometimes, just take responsibility, manage your time and stay calm. At the end of university, you won’t just have a graduated with a degree, you’ll also be an expert at cooking quick meals and knowing where to shop for the best deals. It will all be worth it at the end.
Being adventurous can be in any form. Queen’s offers so many activities. You can learn a new language, you can take up leadership roles, and you can even form a new society. This is the chance to show off your skills which you might not have done back in school.
I personally convinced myself to sign up for the Queen’s Global Leadership Programme which involved a rigorous selection process from students all the over the university, followed by an interview. This programme included leadership workshops followed by a trip to Toronto to meet the biggest companies in Canada. I would have never imagined myself travelling with a group of strangers and exploring the city of Toronto and Niagara Falls. We returned back with so much insight from top companies like Deloitte, Bank of Montreal, City of Toronto, Brooklyn Financial and many others. I departed with a group of strangers but came back with a group of people which whom I developed an incredibly strong bond in a short space of time. The people and experience will stay with me forever.
What is ahead for me?
I was lucky enough to be pursuing a degree I was passionate about. Studying engineering at Queen’s has been a great privilege. Completing final year, I am able to look at the modules/subjects that I have completed over the course of my degree. Queen’s offers a wide variety of courses and even within each course there is a lot of diversity.
My course at Queen’s made me more versatile because it didn’t just focus on the engineering side of things but made me think as an entrepreneur, look at the medical side of engineering and question the engineering activities around me. Whilst studying at Queen’s I was already able to work on a medical device called Stryker for my placement year. Further I aim to contribute positively towards the world using my relative field of engineering. The values and the knowledge that I have gained from Queen’s will reflect in every part of my life.
About the Author
Hello, my name is Fiza Tareen and I am a final year student at Queen's University Belfast. I am studying Electrical Engineering and Electronics at Queen's and have completed a placement year at Stryker, Belfast. I have spent almost 4 wonderful years in Belfast and I can proudly say that I have had the most thrilling time as a student.
In my free time I enjoy writing and have written a blog for Queen's about my experiences, I also enjoy playing badminton and tennis but nowadays you will mainly find me in McClay library.