‘There is always a fest running at UCC’
Husain Miyajiwala had two major things in mind when he was applying for master’s- One that it should be a research oriented course and second that it should be a cost effective one. In University College Cork he found both his desires met. Husain pursued M. Sc Biotechnology from UCC and is now a research intern at National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
In a chat with Careers360, Husain talks about what encouraged him to study in UCC, his busy campus life and his fresh experience in Ireland.
Q: How and why did you choose your university?
A: Dr. Justin McCarthy, the course coordinator for the M.Sc. Biotechnology course, gave a guest lecture on Transgenic Animals at my college, St. Joseph’s College of Arts and Science, Bangalore. That is where I first learned about University College Cork. I always wanted to do a more research oriented Masters and that is why when my guide suggested that I apply at UCC, I took her advice, applied and got in!
Q: Was there any specific reason why you chose to study in Ireland?
A: I wanted to pursue my Master’s degree from a reputed university in Europe. But along with that I also wanted it to be a cost effective one. Ireland and UCC offered me both at the same time, a Master’s degree from a well reputed university and a fee structure that seemed affordable to someone coming from India.
Q: Tell us about the campus life at your university. How different is it from the Indian campus life?
A: The campus life here is mind blowing. Firstly, I have never seen such a large campus before and with the number of students studying at UCC, there is always some sort of an event taking place be it a society event, or one of the clubs organizing something or just some people dancing in the amphitheater to entertain. There is always an activity!
Q: How is the competition level? How would you describe your experience of studying in a foreign university?
A: The competition level is much, much higher than what I had in my undergrad in India but then again, the competition level in a postgraduate degree even in India would be as high I suppose, because when in a master’s program, no one is here to just have fun or it’s not just a degree anymore, it’s your career choice and that is why everyone is so competitive at a postgraduate level. What I do admire about the education system here is that the learning is more individual based. What the professors teach you in the classroom is but 10% of all the coursework and the remaining 90% is your personal input. Nothing is spoon-fed here. All the resources required are provided but it is our call if we want to make use of them or not.
Q: Did you look beyond the Indian community while making friends?
A: I had lived in India for 22 years before moving to Cork. It helps to look past the Indian community and make new friends from different cultural backgrounds. I do have some really close Indian friends here in Cork and I will make new Indian friends but at the same time I will not restrict my friend circle to just Indians. Indian, not Indian, doesn’t really matter to me as long as he/she is a good friend.
Q: What about fests? Have you taken part in any of the fests organized in your university?
A: There is never a day when there isn’t a fest running at UCC. Frankly speaking, with so many fests running all the time, it can get a little confusing what to take part in and what not to. I did take part in a couple of events in the first few weeks of arriving here but then I got busy with my course work and taking part in fests took a backseat.
Q: Are you a member of any club? How does it help to orient you with the university?
A: I am a part of a few societies and go for their events once in a while. Along with that, I do hold a committee position as the Secretary of the UCC Indian Society and a Postgrad Rep of the UCC Archaeological Society. Being a part of the committee has two advantages, from my academic perspective, it is a very good addition to my CV, and along with that it gives me a chance to meet and interact with a lot of new people from different walks of life.
Q: Going from India, how is life in a foreign country? What do you do to adjust in a new environment?
A: Coming from India, life in Europe is obviously going to be extremely different. The cultural norms differ greatly. It takes a while getting used to it but once you do, it is an amazing feeling. By far, moving to Cork is the best thing that’s happened to me. The major thing to adjust to in a new environment is the climatic change. After that, the next big change would be the currency. Because Euro is costlier than Rupee, it is always a little difficult to spend a little freely even on the things we really need. Apart from that there isn’t really anything that you can’t adjust to; just need a little bit of time.
Q: What about food? The food culture is not same as in India. How do you manage?
A: This may seem shocking, but coming from India, I am completely spice intolerant. So the food here is not much of a problem for me. One of the first things I checked when I decided I was coming to Ireland was if the local food here is spicy and much to my delight, it is not. Apart from that, I do manage to cook a few meals myself and once in a while, my flatmates and I get together and have a good meal together.
Q: Do you hold any part-time job? How does it help in your education?
A: I intended to take a part time job upon arriving in Cork but I never did manage to find a place to work part time. And once the jobs started opening up, I was so caught up with my course work that part time jobs were not an option anymore. Maybe next semester when I have more time, I may consider the prospect of a part time job.
Q: How do you balance fun and studies?
A: Why must there be a balance between fun and studies? Studying can be fun too. But yes, if by fun you mean partying, there needs to be a line drawn mentally that tells you when to stop and to be fair, I am not really a party animal and prefer staying home most of the time so that isn’t much of a problem.