15th August, 2017: in the spirit of continuity and the flow of time, it was again that time of the year when the heart starts beating like a thoroughbred galloping horse. We would get to know the results of how we fared in the examination. Staying in London for the past two years during this time of the year meant the wait was much less excruciating, for India is four and a half hours ahead. After a couple of frantic fruitless clicks, a page suddenly appeared: ‘Congratulations on successfully completing your degree programme. Very best from us all at the University of London International Programmes.’
Countless hours of sleeplessness, anxiety, struggling to read, reading and thinking critically have paved the way for a fresh round of challenges, which I look up to. The finals have long been over and I hope to have done well. The post examination experience has deceived me of my expectations of a hollow feeling of having nothing to do. Instead, it has urged me to start my mental preparations for the journey ahead.
Besides the mental preparations, fatigue has accompanied me in the form of a delightful trip to Mumbai, tucked in between attending a SOAS students’ reception right after the exams, writing the IELTS exam just for the sake of testing myself, which I happily passed with flying colours, a trip to my hometown of Burdwan after almost six months and accompanying my Gurujee on the taanpura at the prestigious Tolly Club in Kolkata. To say the least, I have highly relished this hectic schedule so far. Amidst all of the post exam rush, a stream of thoughts has kept gurgling in the background of my mind. These thoughts have predominantly been regarding what it means to be a graduate of the University of London and being associated with the LSE. That I will be graduating from the University of London in a few weeks has made me do a bit of research about what the university stands for.
2017 has been an extremely eventful year and the first three months have flickered by in no time, but more about the eventful things later! The onset of April means, for most of us students, exams are around the corner. This is by no means my intention to set in ‘testophobia’ amongst all of us taking the University of London examinations. On the contrary, this serves as a perfect occasion for me to share some tools that have proved beneficial!
More than three years have rolled by in a flash from I enrolled with the University of London International Programmes, as a student of BSc Accounting and Finance, under the academic direction of the LSE. Since then I have experienced the troughs and crescents of life – from changing my stream of study from Accounting to International Relations, witnessing the tragic death of one of my aunts, taking immensely challenging and rigorous exams, attending demanding lectures at the LSE and the SOAS summer schools, performing Indian classical music at SOAS, to even trying a hand at punting in the River Cam (which by the way was almost a flop)! With the results of my third year of study being declared (and which I am quite happy about), it feels a bit surreal to think I am onto my fourth and final year of study with the University of London and LSE. Back in India after spending one of my most productive and busiest times in London, I must confess that getting to tour the Senate House – the nerve centre of the International Programmes has been highly inspiring.
The image of the lifeless body of Alan Kurdi lying on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea sent shockwaves across the world, throwing some light on the scale of the tragedy that thousands of people have been facing in the past few years. Tune in to any world news channel and it would not be a wait too long to stumble across scenes of families like ours walking the tight rope of life, miles after miles, in large numbers, 24/7 only in search of peace and a good life. According to the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), more than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe in 2015. Thousands have died trying to sneak into Europe ‘illegally’ on flimsy rubber dinghies.
From fleeing war zones, conflict areas, civil wars, bombings, ruthless and mindless terrorists, to paying ransoms to mafia networks for risking their lives, to being rejected by the EU nations – these are the stories of sacrifice, human resilience and courage to defeat the evil forces. While it is not exactly in our hands to change things for the better completely on our own, the least we can all do is stand #WithRefugees. I have pledged my support for these precious lives in distress by signing the #WithRefugees petition. And I urge the UoL and the student fraternity at large to appeal to the governments to do their best in making the world a safer and better place for all, this World Refugee Day on 20 June.
We live in a digital age where our lives are surrounded by iPhones and smartphones, and my life is no exception. Notifications flash on my iPhone screen quite often, most of them carrying breaking news from around the globe. Though most of them hardly catches the eye, the one that did came from Nairobi, Kenya. On April 30, the Kenyan government decided to set fire to a huge stockpile of ivory amounting to about £70 million! This set me pondering about the scale and the magnitude of the illegal trade. Having already said ‘huge’ stockpile, this actually isn’t. Keeping the estimates in mind that rampant poaching has led to over 100,000 elephant deaths between 2010-2012, the stockpile accounts for only a puny fraction. It contained only 105 tonnes of ivory from over 7,000 elephants, and 1.35 tonnes of rhino horn – which is still a huge number!
Since my last post about my trip to London last summer, a year has passed by with the jolly Indian winters filled with music and preparation for the upcoming May examinations which will be crucial for me. A lot has happened in the world in the last four and a half months that is relevant to my studies, which I will write about in my next blog (hopefully really soon!). Similarly to some of my co-bloggers, it was a personal feeling that sharing some study techniques and addressing some study dilemmas may be of some assistance to me and may also help some of my fellow students. Sitting for a 100 course module, Contemporary Sociology in a Global Age, two 200 course modules, International Organisations and Foreign Policy Analysis, and a 300 course module, Security in International Relations, has turned out to be quite a challenge. A syllabus spanning 48 chapters where every line counts, exhaustive readings and a lot of writing has been no docile pet to tame and will certainly not be one when I take two consecutive exams on the 11th and 12th of May.
This ‘Friday’ was not one of the most common Fridays that are usually in store for me. Soon after rushing to my French class in the afternoon, it was time to brave the lashing quintessential Kolkata monsoons to attend a ‘mehfil’ where my guru Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty would be demonstrating the importance of lyrics in classical Indian music. Mehfil’s are typically cozy Indian get-togethers where people come, not in huge numbers, for a event which are usually cultural ones. With my heart still in a daze pondering over the topic of discussion, my mind swiftly cuts in to the next thing in my schedule – a game of balancing sides which I have quite got used to playing. I would be flying to London to attend the LSE Summer School in a few hours. Packing was hardly done and the apartment was a complete mess, bearing not a great deal of comedy compared to the situation portrayed by Jerome K. Jerome in his novel. Reaching home in a dog tired state, there would hardly be scope for any kind of feelings to percolate and surface. However it did: it was a strange amalgamation of excitement, joy, fear, anxiousness, a gut feeling which was indicating that perspectives were going to be changed. Writing about my 2015 summer stay in London could be possible from a thousand different ways: as a travelogue, a poem, informing about the Summer School and counting. However, here I want to share with all of you about my experiences as a student of International Relations with the University of London and the LSE, as a humble student of music, and what I gained from the time.
Over a month has passed since I finished taking my second year UoL exams. But this time was a bit different. I was not a BSc Accounting and Finance student anymore but a student of BSc International Relations. Not to drag this blog again into exams, I would say as minimum as possible regarding the exams. Admittedly, I could deliver as per my expectations and my preparations, though I don’t expect to achieve results to the best of my capability. Still, a notch above in performance compared to the previous year, and hopefully the results reflect it. This improvement may be attributed to me getting used to the environment of the UoL and the LSE. They have almost become my home and I need to fantasize hard to feel like an alien – which I used to feel on joining the International Programmes during my very first days.
Life seldom runs like a Rolls Royce on the highway, giving us enough reasons to brood over rather than smile. Since my last post, we have moved on to the next year. So my best wishes to everybody on a new year, I know it’s not that new. This interim of six months has been both good and not so good. Results of my chartered accountancy examinations have been out. Well they have been as per my expectations, though a disappointing one indeed. The sunny side of it has been reading International Relations as a programme of study. Continue reading