Driving seat dilemmas

As a junior (third year) student, I assume, it is somewhat normal to feel proud of your achievements yet share that feeling with a sense of uncertainty. Uncertainty for me, not always but in the last couple of years, has become into a source of curiosity, the kind of positive feeling which can motivate you or just even affect you enough to move you. Thus, when I saw the notification on MySu regarding the Rector of my university enlightening us about our faculty’s research topics I felt that maybe this could be food for the uncertainty that often pervades me. Going back again to this concept of, lets say, ‘student uncertainty’ : not serious in nature but valuable in essence, I felt that this talk might give me just a simple push in the right direction.

Thus, I made my way to the Cinema Hall to spend the next fifty minutes learning more about what my university has to offer. I am an avid attendee of most campus talks and usually enjoy most but what made these fifty minutes different for me was the start. The Rector, Mr Nihat Berker started in Turkish, only to ease in to English making each and every international student in the room not only comfortable from the start but very valued and incorporated. Indeed most talks are held in English and most from the start are in English, but for me the way the Rector handled this situation was very warm and added to me identifying myself not as the ‘other’ but very much at home. For some, this might have gone unnoticed, but over the last couple of years staying away from home, the one thing I have developed intuitively is watching out for little gestures like this which contribute to my sense of home and stability.

Moving on to the presentation, I was not surprised that I was part of a university where my professors had varied and intellectually stimulating interests but what moved me was that in these last three years I had not made the effort to at least knock at their doors and just get to know them beyond class hours. I am a student of Arts and Social Sciences and I assumed that I had a fair knowledge of research interests of professors at least from my faculty; however, much to my surprise there was a lot more my professors were involved in beyond a research topic. They were experts on certain issues, they were associated with reputable organizations, had received generous grants and had proven their mettle through various modes such as conferences.

We all have moments of heightened motivation, intellectual drive and optimism and for me it is those moments which have a direct relationship with the earlier mentioned ‘student uncertainty’. In my experience, when one is open minded and ready to let go of one’s comfort zone, epiphany’s are possible. For me, once I left the Cinema Hall I very much felt that I was doing well with my environment but yet a lot more could be done. Thus, the positivity  had to be channeled through tools of personal initiative and resilience. Before the end of the week I managed to find a professor whose interests were close to that of mine and who was willing to allow me to be of help.

This little anecdote has a basic purpose: through a personal experience I wanted to show that uncertainty, that hollow feeling we early 20 year old’s often experience, is not just normal but in a sense is very valuable. I feel positivity and negativity both emanate from within our head but once they leave our head, it is up to us to determine their meanings and their purpose in our daily lives. Little steps and decisions have the power to go a long way but we need to be in the driving seat to determine the route that can be taken.



Alizeh Atif

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