The Government Has Failed Students – Again

Over the past few days I have been doing some preparatory reading for my 2nd year at university; but today I didn’t feel like reading. In fact I didn’t feel like even thinking about university and I certainly avoided the news sites I frequently visit.

This was after I awoke to discover that the government has decided to abolish student maintenance grants from 2016. In reality this should not have come as a shock as it is just what we students have come to expect from those in charge. However, it hurt. For someone who’s budgeted tightly to ensure university remains a possibility, it was difficult to be faced with a sudden £3300 hole.

The maintenance grant was cut simply because the Department of Business were told they needed to make over 2bn pounds worth of cuts so they saw the grants as an easy target. No consultation, no analysing the impact of their decision. Instead they spewed out the rhetoric that was used to justify tuition fee increases: “students don’t care about debt, they just need enough money to get through university.”

Who told you that! What they don’t realise is that this grant which was reserved for the poorer students was a lifeline. Many used it to pay for their rent, bills, books and technology whilst others used it to pay their fees. As you are aware,  I am amongst that group hence my devastation.

The government answer is to replace it with a loan which means that should a normal student choose to make use of it, they would leave university with over £60,000 debt! (Tuition fees, maintenence loan, additional maintenance loan.) Yes you read that right. There is already a maintenance loan available so transforming the grant into a loan makes no sense. Except of course for the government’s pockets.

The fact is I could hardly bring myself to write this post because I am sick of how students and young adults are being treated. We are constantly being told that cuts have to be made for the greater good yet it is always us who seem to have it worst. Wednesday’s budget announced tax cuts for the richest whilst restricting the new living wage to only over 25s. Is it any wonder that up and down the country young adults view the government in only disgust?

Later in the day I received an email urging me to sign a petition to persuade the government to change their decision. I signed it knowing that it is a lost cause. The powers that be make these decisions without taking into consideration their impact. As long as it makes sense financially then they are happy but the human aspect is lost on them. They are cold, ruthless and it seems they want to join the United States in becoming the worldbtarget for jokes about ridiculous student debt.

The UK government like it has been doing throughout my teenage years, has failed its students and failed its future.

Until Next Time

A Worried Student


Oh No, Reading Lists!

When first year university students are given their reading lists –  I mean after searching their uni website themselves to find them – we don’t really pay much attention to them. 

“Ha, read in advance? Mate they said first year is a breeze so forget that!” 

This leads to the inevitable first semester of each module where we all realise that we should have done at least some of the reading. Despite the odd fact that you can get away with not reading the set texts in the first year of your English degree, I certainly would not recommend it if you wish to make the most of your year – and your £9000+ tuition fees!

Admittedly, I was a bit lackadaisical in my first year when it came to reading but I am determined to not make the same mistakes. Last week I ordered a few books from the much loved/hated site Amazon. For a person who is not used to buying books, it was a bit of a should I?/shouldn’t I? moment when it came to actually ordering them. I decided I must go ahead and out went £35 from my account. A small sum for many, a large sum for students!

Of course, I also managed to get a few e-book versions but these were only of the more famous and popular texts. One of my modules that I will be studying is called Palestinian and Israeli Literature which has led me to discover a few great works.

Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape –  Raja Shehadeh

When my reading list made me order this book, I had no idea that this book would be so great. I Shehadeh-Palestinianmean, any title with the word ‘walks’ in it conjures up ideas of a geography textbook but Shehadeh has written a marvellous piece on the vanishing landscape of his country. The narrative combines the description of the hills of Ramallah with his attempts to preserve the land of the Palestinians. The result is you get the sense of a man who enjoys the great outdoors and his pain and frustration with the occupation that forces him to abstain from enjoying them. A welcoming human perspective of the Palestinian struggle. 

Titus Andronicus – William Shakespeare

Such is the life of an English student that you end up reading utterly different types of texts due to 2952your different modules. Titus Andronicus is a terribly bloody play in which people drop dead and gruesome acts are committed on nearly every page. It tells the tale of a Roman army general who on his return from war does not take up the role of emperor despite the people wanting him to. This turns out to be a terrible choice because the person he nominates in place of him turns against him. One of the more livelier plays of Shakespeare, if you find it on your reading list then there is no need to sink into despair. 

Until Next Time

A Worried Student

I Don’t Want To Get Bored Of Reading

Well Hello!

As a university student, not becoming lost in the overwhelming reading lists is a constant challenge. Then ontop of all that, maintaining your personal love for reading is even more challenging. So when asked me to write a blog post for them, I knew what I should write about.

Check out my post here:

This year, I have already begun my reading for next year. Which meant for the first time ever, I spent a lot of money on buying some books online. Well I say a lot, it was £30 but for a person who usually gets every book from the library, it certainly felt like a lot! I guess it has made me appreciate the fact that growing up, I had great libraries within walking distances.

Coming up next, posts about the latest things I have been reading!

Until Next Time

A Worried Student

Interviewing The Past

I bumped into a person the other day who made my mind wander about the past. He was a lifelong friend of my maternal granddad and he remembered him fondly with the words, “he was the best person. I miss him a lot.” This frank admission made me hope that I would live such a life that people would remember me in the same way.

What this meeting also got me thinking about was my granddad’s childhood. I want to know how it was, what school he went to and how his father managed to save up enough money to pay the ship’s fare to England. I want to know whether England matched his expectations or whether life was more difficult than he imagined. I want to about all these things but I can’t ask him. I was far too young to think of these questions when he was still alive. 

Now I have an idea. Perhaps it is time to do a bit of family research. Perhaps I could interview a few of his friends, they were an extremely close-knit group after all. They were all the best of friends whilst their wives were too. His friend told me how every week they would meet as couples and whilst the menfolk talked, my grandma would chat away to his wife, freeing whatever worries were on her chest.

As he remembered this, he gave the following advice: “Always have a smile on your face, be friendly with everyone and give in charity.”

My granddad is not the only person I would have liked to interview. My paternal grandma passed away at the old age of 85. She had many stories to tell but I never acted on my impulse to write them down when we went ‘back home’ for a holiday, although we were quite busy with two weddings! What this meant was that I missed out on the opportunity to discover the history of my family as she was one of the only people who had the complete history of how life was for our family sixty or so years ago. The struggle they went though was immense but it is amazing what they managed to accomplish.

I guess I need to find out another way to learn about the fascinating history of my family. Which family member would you most like to interview? IF they are still alive, then I suggest you seize the moment otherwise you may end up regretting it, like me.

Also, have you interviewed a family member and what has been the most interesting thing you discovered?

Until Next Time

A Worried Student


A Science Filled Day For An English Student?

Yesterday was quite a fun day at work. I was told to supervise a group of students taking part in a local ‘Science Challenge’ at my old college. The thing that appealed to me the most when I was given the description about the day was that I would simply have to be there. 

“Excellent,” I thought, I was looking forward to getting some video editing done for something I was working on. I mean being an arts and humanities student, there was nothing inside me that jumped up upon hearing the words ‘science challenge.’

However as the day progressed, I found myself being entertained by the challenges to the degree that I decided to even join in! There were a number on offer: Programming a robot car, building a vehicle, using facial recognition technology and building a bridge out of paper.

Testing Out Their Cars

Testing Out Their Cars

The best thing about this challenge day was the age of the pupils who had been invited to take part. They weren’t 15 or 16 year old students but mere 12-14 year old schoolchildren. I found myself wishing that I had also had this opportunity when I was still in secondary school. Even if it would not have had an effect on my career choice, it would have still been nice to be involved in things like this. The closest event I remember is when a maths teacher made us build bridges out of straws. (Which were spectacularly flimsy but a fun lesson nonetheless.)

It was great to see the enthusiasm on the students faces as they tried their best to win each challenge.

Their competitive nature could be heard, “you copied our design!.”

In The Beginning Stages Of Building, although theirs did not turn out particularly well!

In The Beginning Stages Of Building, although theirs did not turn out particularly well!

“No we didn’t, great minds think alike!.”

Out of all of the challenges, the one I liked the most was building bridges out of paper. The reason being that it is easy to replicate in any classroom. Whilst the others require all sorts of equipment, all you need for this is paper, masking tape and some string.

The day drew to a close with a small talk from a civil engineer and the funny thing is, I found myself learning new things about the field. Perhaps it is a good sign that a policy is in the pipeline for all London students to have had 100 hours of work experience/careers advice by the time they are 16. The day was definitely a great way to create great aspirations for school pupils. 

Until Next Time 

A Worried Student

A Teenage Teacher

For the past four weeks, I have been teaching. Teaching is extremely different to tutoring. You can be a great tutor but that does not mean you will automatically be a great classroom teacher. I can almost imagine the hordes of teachers nodding their heads vigorously to this statement. They won’t tell you but I think they secretly despise private tutors. ‘Smart-alecs making exorbitant amounts of money by simply teaching ONE person per lesson!’ 

Of course, that is the major difference between tutors and teachers which means teachers have a much more difficult job. The first hurdle is classroom management. I have had to teach two Year Seven classes Maths and English since their teacher left suddenly during half-term. Now before you ‘ooo’ and ‘aaah’ over the idea of little 11-12 year olds, let me just tell you that 11-12 year old kids have definitely changed since I was in school. Their cheekiness has hit astounding levels!

When I informed them of the consequences for any misbehaviour (an hour detention after school), they laughed! Simply because no one had given them a detention for that long before. Of course, they were not laughing when I actually gave them one. (Muwhahaha!) 

However, my first day did not go well. By the end of it, I was wishing I hadn’t accepted the opportunity. The kids were a headache, they never listened and they didn’t seem to want to learn. My throat was sore from shouting and a hot cup of tea did not ease the pain. As I thought about it at home whilst dreading the next day, I realised I had taken the wrong approach. In an effort to instil order and show who was boss, I had mistakenly used my voice in the wrong way. All that shouting had served no purpose except to drain my own energy, leaving me feeling like crap. 

I told myself that tomorrow will be different. I will keep quiet and wait for order. Now for a person who is thrown into the teaching seat, this tactic can be quite scary. What if I have to wait all lesson? What if I never get any quiet? In the staff room the next morning, I was given advice that followed along the same lines of my new plan. Walking into the classroom, I was greeted by a wall of noise but instead of yelling for quiet, I did something different. I typed. 

Yes. I typed a warning out on the smart board, took out my pen (to write the names of misbehaving pupils down) and faced the class. Within ten seconds the usually noisy atmosphere was silent. I was amazed at how well the new technique worked and by the end of the day, my mood was utterly different. In fact, now I was looking forward to the next lesson I was going to teach.

Of course, the new plan was not a magic cure. The reality is students in today’s day need to have something to keep them in check. This meant whoever misbehaved were given detentions. Unfortunately, at the school where I work, there is no central detention class so if you as a teacher give one, you will have to stay behind with the pupil after school. For me this meant unpaid work but I told myself that it will be worth it. As a young teacher, you often feel like forgiving the pupils but this is a fatal mistake. The excuses they can come out with may sound so convincing or their promises to behave if they have ‘one more chance’ may appear true but letting them off their punishment is not something you should do. Especially as a new teacher. 

It has been a rocky start and I will be finishing next week but it has been a good experience. Whilst the students may play up, you also learn to bond with them and you realise what it truly means to be a teacher. Has it made me want to be a teacher even more? In actual fact, it hasn’t put me off teaching but it has certainly not become my main aim.

I would still much rather have a writing career.

Apologies for rambling on, blame the kids!

Until Next Time

A Worried Teacher/Student 

So Ramadhan Has Begun…

We are currently into the third fast of Ramadhan in the UK. Now now, hold in that gasp of wonder at the millions of people who are fasting from sunrise to sunset because in actual fact, it is not so difficult. Every year before Ramadhan approaches, the process is the same. We talk about how long the fasts are going to be and how we are going to cope but come the first day, the words on everyone’s lips are ‘oh it was easy.’ Even this year with Ramadhan falling in June, the people who have work or school are coping quite well. 

Luckily for me, the holidays have already begun so I am able to relax at home for most of the week except for when I am working. The routine is quite relaxed as you get plenty of sleep! After the pre-dawn meal which finishes around 1:17am, it is time for the morning prayer before heading off to bed. That means that unlike previous years where the pre-dawn meal timing was later, those who have to get up for work get a decent amount of sleep. For those who don’t have work then they can look forward to waking up at 12 or 1 in the afternoon, although most of the time that is too much sleep for me!

One of the biggest topics in Ramadhan is of course food. I find it funny how before Ramadhan, there is a lot of talk about how you should have a healthy pre-dawn meal and how when you break your fast, you should avoid all the savouries. All that is flung head over heels out of the window when it comes to the first day. The excuse? Oh it is only the first fast, give me a break! Which then becomes a trend for the whole month. You would think whilst being a month to build on spirituality, it could also be an opportunity to lose weight but for some, that is certainly not the case.

The Asian tradition has always been to prepare a lot of savoury type foods which are basically termed ‘fries.’ Samosas, spring rolls, fritters and many other items are ‘lovingly’ made beforehand and each year my mum declares that she will not make as many. However, we all know what happens. ‘I’ll just make one more thing!’

Until Next Time 

A Worried Student