I approached the end of term with decidedly low spirits, I was thinking about the time gone by since September and I couldn’t determine if I had utilized the term well or grown as much in my skills as I wanted to. If you felt the same way then I urge you read on and take time this holiday to find your answer. To begin that process, I would like to share my own experience.
On the last day as I sat on the bus, recalling the past term – the first day of class, welcome week, meeting new friends, meetings with my advisor, lectures, seminars and dinners. I realized that all of these different settings were memorable to me mainly because of the conversations I engaged in with all of these different people. Thinking about how many people I have interacted with from a range of countries, programmes and jobs made me appreciate the sheer diversity and volume of all that I had experienced and learned from. It was impossible for me then to remain dispirited once this realization seeped in.
During that moment of comprehension I was able to see how critical a role conversations had played in shaping my life at LSE. It was interesting because I remembered all of the moments that were completely random and spontaneous, honest, self-initiated or truly challenging. And all of it put together helped me enjoy my LSE experience that much more.
Thinking at completely random, I recalled my conversation with a bus driver, who displayed genuine concern when I was struggling with a cold and got really excited knowing that I went to LSE, sharing that he would like his daughter to study at LSE when she grows up. Or the time, I talked to a bank manager about Brexit, banking system, public schools and poverty in UK compared to India while opening a student account. Or discussing a completely tangential topic in a seminar that actually proved useful in relooking at the seminar question itself.
I remembered the feedback I received on formative essays where I struggled to share my concerns and fears with academic writing. And unexpectedly walked out feeling heard, encouraged, challenged and inspired to learn more.
I remembered the time I had no idea what courses I would like to take, or whether I was interested or aligned to any of the international roles, or whether my thinking about a particularly difficult reading was in the right direction. Under all of those circumstances what helped me the most was simply initiating the conversation and seeking help. It’s not as though it completely solved the problem or that I wasn’t apprehensive of being shot down. But acknowledging that I didn’t know and asking for help, made me feel more relaxed and actually enjoy the process of finding a solution.
Most recently, I remember a group of amazing people I met and enjoyed my evening with (in the picture) celebrating end of term and the coming holidays. I was struck by the fact that in one evening I met people from more than 8 different countries, over 4 different programmes and discussed pretty much everything from the routine exchanges on foods and culture, music, programme choices, relationships and traveling to the completely singular experience of learning self-defense techniques and re-enacting 3 AM fights.
So as you look back and prepare for the term ahead, I invite you to think of your conversations. You might be surprised by what you recall, discover and cherish just as I did.