A New Hope – Welcome 2020

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Zoha standing outside the University campus in DubaiObi-Wan Kenobi once said ​“In my experience there is no such thing as luck”​ And that’s true. All of us students studying at the University Of Birmingham Dubai have not come here because of our luck but because of our constant hard work and determination.

I felt an overwhelming sense of nostalgia the day I walked into the campus for the ​Psychology Programme Induction​. I wasn’t afraid, but each step that I took forward brought about memories from my childhood where I’d dreamed of this day and as I watched it unfold in front of my eyes, it felt unreal. I sure did have my fair share of expectations from the first day of university but all I can say is that in the end I was definitely not disappointed.

My day at campus began with a temperature check, sanitised hands and body. Though I would have expected to be met with crowds of students flooding the campus, this is the new normal and I was met by two staff members of UoB at the entrance along with a friendly security guard, (the one who reassured me and my friend, after we came back from the canteen, that our temperatures were just high because we came inside from the sun) the warmth they radiated was enough to make me feel comfortable and safe.

Student holding a polaroid picture of them in front of the campusThe Student Wellbeing Officer, Richard, guided me to my lecture room and on the way, he gave me a brief layout of the university and the COVID-19 precautions that were strictly being implemented on campus like: social distancing guidelines in classes and seating areas, well laid out sanitising dispensers etc. Starting ​university during COVID 19​ honestly brings about a surge of anxiety in students as well as parents as it did for me. But in such unprecedented times, it’s important to keep in mind that ​“In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way” ​as famously quoted by Yoda. I know that it’s hard to accept it, but this is the new normal. The university has done it’s part and now it’s our turn to stay safe.

My programme induction started with meeting my lecturers, Dr Anthony Murphy and Olivia Goncalves along with other Psychology students. Our Professors not only had an amicable nature, they also ensured that we were comfortable in the class by conversing with us about everything from Psychology to classic novels and even Harry Potter! They gave us an overview of our upcoming year followed by a fun quiz on Kahoot! Making friends in class turned out to be easier than I expected because we didn’t let the distance between us obstruct us from getting to know each other, even if that meant talking really loudly and texting each other while just sitting on opposite tables.

As a high school graduate, I had expected that the ​transition to university life​ would be rather challenging for me. But the university had provided me with remarkable resources that had personally been quite helpful for me:

  • Before the commencement of the first semester, I went through ​Skills4Uni​ which provided me with guidance and support towards my current academic studies and helped me make balanced decisions regarding my working life.
  • After the Online Registration, students are provided with access to ‘Canvas’ , the virtual learning platform. It’s very important to gain an understanding of the way it functions as all the learning materials are uploaded here. Canvas helped me with my main subject courses and provided me with a series of additional courses that are helping me develop my skills in various fields.
  • The university provides students with Student Services on campus which assists in registration, scholarships, transport services etc. It also has a highly technical and responsive IT Desk that provides quick response to your queries.

The Welcome Week started off with the ​Zoom Reverse Escape Room. ​This was the first event and I was extremely excited! I had no idea what to expect. It started off with a robotic voice giving us instructions followed by being grouped in breakout rooms consisting of 4 members where we tried to solve the well planned and highly detailed questions varying from translating and solving Morse Code, decoding with ASCII, using Ciphers etc. Towards the end of the event, most of us had become a part of a WhatsApp group for new students where we exchanged social media accounts and started the formation of new friendships.

On the second day, we had ​The​ ​Big Quiz​ which dealt with questions about Birmingham, Netflix, General Knowledge and Food. The quiz was held on a platform called Kahoot! which was super exciting for all of us and had quite an interesting scoring system where the quickest to answer correctly would get the highest number of points and the top 5 players were shown on the podium which encouraged all of us to do our best. I’ve got to say that not only did I enjoy the Quiz but I also got to learn so many new facts! The winner of the quiz got a Canon Selphy Compact Photo Printer.

On the third day, I had the ​Student Association Takeover​ event where the leaders were running a radio show along with which we could participate in quizzes and debates. We even had the opportunity to request songs so that everyone had a chance to get to explore each other’s music interests. It was a really fun event and I had a great time listening and engaging in the conversation! By tuning into the event, we all had a fair chance of winning Samsung Galaxy Buds.

By this day the students had made a WhatsApp group for all subjects which was a great way for us to chat with our classmates and get to know them. My Psychology classmates have been super supportive, positive and encouraging and I really look forward to the 3 years ahead of us. One of the students texted me directly so that it would be easier to get to know each other, and honestly we clicked and have been texting ever since.

On the fourth day, my Programme Induction for Psychology was held in the morning followed by the ​Student Leader Hangout​ in the afternoon. The Student Association leaders were very energetic and excited to answer all our questions which told us all about the clubs, activities and events that were to be held in the university. The university offers a handful of clubs at the moment which includes the drama club, dance club, photography club etc. I really look forward to seeing the clubs expand and participating in them!

On the last day, we had an online psychology induction in the morning where our Professor split us into Breakout Rooms of 4 again where it turned out that we had a lot in common and that we got along really well. We talked about everything like what movies we like to watch, what books we like to read, if we’re a cat person or a dog person etc.

This was followed by the ​Reverse Escape Room Harder ​which was held again ​due to facing a technical glitch previously which is why there was a problem in declaring the winner. ​This round included even more complex word problems, roman numerals and following directions on Google Maps which made it even more challenging. In the end, I’m proud to say my team and I came in Second Place and won a Dhs. 400 Virgin Megastore Gift Voucher!

Afterwards, some of the students got together on a Zoom call and played Skribbl; a drawing game, which was a great way for us to talk and get to know about each other’s amazing artistic skills. Later in the evening, we had the ​Netflix and Pizza Party​ event during which we consensually decided to watch ‘Back To The Future’ through the Student Association page on Instagram and we all received coupons for free pizza.

I also participated in the UoB Hoodie Challenge and can’t wait to receive my Hoodie along with the goodie bag. As Ahoka Tano said “This is a new day, a new beginning” be curious and participate in everything.

The day I left my university campus after the programme induction, I was met with a slight breeze while standing under the shades of the trees, talking with my new friends about all our hopes and aspirations. At that moment, I knew that everything I was worrying about up until that moment has just vanished and I realised that this was going to become the start of a long lasting relationship not just with my peers but also the university itself where I hope to grow academically as well as an individual and achieve wonders.

Thank you. May the force be with you.

Written by Zoha, BSc Psychology 

Profile picture of Zoha

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