As University of Manchester students, we all have come from far and near; many from within the UK and EU, and, many others from farther places like Nigeria, Ethiopia, China, Latin America, Malaysia, Ghana and, New Zealand.
If you are an international student like me, and probably you are studying outside your country for the first time; enrolling to study in a university as big and prestigious as Manchester can sometimes feel very challenging. So, it may not be unusual to find yourself struggling with “Imposter Syndrome” which simply means allowing yourself to become overwhelmed by perceived feelings of not being “good enough” to be here. When you start having these feelings, it may not take long to find that you start comparing yourself with other students. Those who look like they are doing better than you, getting better grades, or maybe seem to have more research skills or experience than you.
Give yourself permission to be your best
You can be sure I also felt this same way when I first stepped my foot on this campus, but since I had envisaged it, I came well prepared with one strategy: To give myself the permission to be my best.
Most times in life, we find ourselves seeking permission and validation from other people rather than ourselves, this to me is the wrong approach. Studying at the University of Manchester is indeed a life-changing opportunity irrespective of whether you are a home student or an international student. You really don’t want to fritter away this kind of opportunity because you allowed your Imposter Syndrome to take hold rather than just taking the plunge. So enjoy your time here, make life-long friends, contribute positively to the growth of the University while also making your personal development a priority.
So what three ways have helped me thus far in my journey as a newly minted Postgrad in this University aiming to make as much difference I can make?
1. Networking Widely
If I had just one piece of advice to give you, I would say always be open to connecting with and learning from new people: The fact that you applied to a very diversely populated institution as Manchester means you are open to allowing yourself experience a whole new view of things. Don’t be afraid to say a word to the next person you meet on the stair way or in the elevator. Ask questions if you need to. Don’t be ashamed of learning from other people’s cultures. Network widely. Never be ashamed of your story or where you are coming from. Know that you did not end up here by accident. You have everything it takes to be here, and to do extremely well here. That’s why you got here in the first place!
2. Engage Positively
There are so many positive engagements you can get involved with on campus. You can give your time to community development activities or become a University of Manchester Wellbeing Champion, or if you are a postgraduate researcher interested in public engagement, you can apply to become a Public Engagement Champion. There are a lot of student clubs doing great things on campus starting with the Students’ Union. Feel to join as many as you care to and use your free time constructively. You won’t regret it.
3. Take ownership of your identity
To be fair, most times it is really not that anybody set out to make us feel inadequate, it is just us thinking we are inadequate. Our biggest enemy sometimes is in us: that tiny feeling that creeps up on you when you find yourself in a highly competitive and world-class environment and keeps whispering self-doubt into the depths of your soul till you are left helpless. It is your responsibility to fight this negative voice by proving it wrong. And the best way to achieve this is to take ownership of your identity. Take notice, embrace your fears, appreciate your journey so far and reach deep down in your soul to inspire yourself to push further.
These are the three ways by which I have been tackling my own fears and it’s been working for me pretty well, so far, so good.
Written by Wellbeing Champion, Yusuf Alimi.