UQ, my saviour !

My mind had been ticking… beeping like a time bomb, and then it exploded, giving me a panic attack and I collapsed with a nervous breakdown. This was after a traumatic incident at my workplace, where I was being constantly bullied by a colleague, who happened to be my manager’s best friend. She loved to torment me as if she owned the company and I was too reserved to defend her, as I wanted to sustain focus on my work instead. But I was wrong, because I was silently internalizing the abuse and bullying behavior. As a result, I became schizophrenic and quit my job when the situation went out of control, as I couldn’t stop my mind to play games on me. Nonetheless, I tried to do another job, but I had lost all the focus, positive vibes and the motivation to keep persistent at work. I was getting sicker and worse every day, until I took a ‘break’ from everything in life and chose to return to Gilgit, the mountain valley in Northern Pakistan. This was my birthplace and the only place I could call home. Thanks to the medications and therapy, I had regained control on my brain, which sometimes behaves as if it has ‘a mind of its own’.

When I was capable enough to shut the voice in my head and act normal, my parents realized my deepest wish to study abroad and sent me all the way to University of Queensland. Every time, I step into the peripheries of UQ, I thank God and my parents for sending me to this top-notch university in Australia.  I call UQ my savior, for saving me from all the ordeal in my personal and professional life. I had never imagined that I will be able to start afresh and recover from the severe damage caused to my brain and be able to regain the confidence and self-esteem that I had lost.

UQ has provided me a threshold to a world of wonders in Australia, which is a free western society. Hailing from a third world country, whose currency is 79 times lesser than the Australian dollar, it is not easy to survive here, even if I am living with my uncle’s family as I don’t incur any rent and maintenance costs. But finding the right balance between studies and a part time job has been a challenge for me. I constantly remind myself that I want to ace in my studies, no matter what. I struggle for only 7, high distinctions in all subjects, which can be really stressful sometimes. After undergoing a hectic work load at a pizza outlet, I have finally managed to get a decent part time job with a reknowned telecommunication company in Australia. As a Sales Consultant, I have targets to meet and I want to do my best at it. With sales targets on my mind 24/7, UQ helps me find solace in the wake of escalating stressors. I so want to be free from all these anxieties, and the moment I set my feet in UQ, I feel as if there are no worries in the world. The very sight of the lush green gardens, magnificent architecture, state of the art libraries and, the lively youngsters from diverse backgrounds; make my day. Even, simple things like dressing up the way I like, is a luxury for me, because I never had this level of cultural liberty to clad in jeans and top, for instance. Also, I cherish, not being stared at, in public places and even in the university.  I have now learnt to treasure simple joys in life. Joys like being with my uni friends from diverse backgrounds, without any worries, or engrossing in my readings in the library, or simply gazing at the sailing ducks near UQ lakes, or trolling around the fountain areas and enjoying the splashes on me, or sipping coffee at a café in UQ. These moments make my life less complicated and allow me to pause and reflect on life.

As I struggle for high distinctions in my courses and I have been blessed with few 7 grades already, these marks feel like money depositing in my account. I am competing with no one, except my former self, and my previous performance. Through my studies, Master of Communications in Public Relations (PR), I want to find meaning and purpose in life… Because integrating with studies or career is a kind of love in itself, which is even higher than romantic love. My family members often taunt me for being an introvert and a book-worm, but I call myself an ambivert and a book lover, and being ‘myself’ shouldn’t bother someone, because I expect my friends and family to respect my individuality.

UQ, has given me a new recognition, saved me from the pangs of severe depression and offered me the dignity to allow myself to grow through education. It has given power to my words and speech as an inspiring communications specialist and a PR professional. With every passing day, I want to turn my words into my sword. And this is only because of UQ that I have been capable to ignite my creative spark and ingenuity.

I am so much awe-struck with the learning opportunities at UQ that I want to be an academic for lifetime and want to spend my life as a researcher and a teacher. A Master’s degree is not just a piece of paper, but a Masters over the confusion, chaos, stress and the complexities in my life. Being in my last semester for the degree, I remind myself how much I will miss UQ and the ‘royalty’ of being an international post-grad student.

Altogether I value my individual freedom, critical thinking and selective perception as nurtured by UQ and I would walk all lengths to capitalise upon my skills, to be able to contribute to the society as an erudite professional.

Aneeta Karim