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Afsana from Bangladesh, BA in Economics

Afsana Tuly, 23, from Bangladesh
Bachelor's degree in Economics at the University of Sheffield

‘How do you make friends with people who talk, behave, and react differently from you?'

'Four years ago I left Bangladesh with two suitcases and a mind full of dreams about excelling in my chosen field of study. I still remember arriving at London’s Heathrow airport, not because I landed in the country of Her Majesty, but to rejoice and compose my experience of travelling abroad without the company of family or friends.

'I went to Sheffield two days after my arrival and fell in love with the city, but had a hard time dealing with cold sandwiches for lunch. At first I was sceptical of my move to come and engage with people from different backgrounds, as they don’t understand your accent and vice versa. How do you make friends with people who talk, behave, and react differently from you?

'The first few days at university passed so quickly that I was more occupied with buying textbooks, arranging my room, getting groceries and settling down in the cold, out-of-control, busy student life. Within a few weeks, I realised it was time for me to have a serious conversation with my dad and let him know the ‘torture’ I was going through. I couldn’t eat the food, walking miles in the hilly area made me cry and above all there were no friends. In my mind, I gathered the perfect words that were supposed to be conveyed to my father before I left and gave up. Then I kept telling myself how easily I give up every time there is a rock-like indurate situation, and maybe this time I needed to hang in there and carry on.'

‘No institution can teach you the experience of growing up’

'The next day I sat behind a Sri Lankan girl and started discussing the lecture, and felt a sense of relief. Finally, I was changing from being a shy, introverted girl to a confident, independent student struggling to survive the most important time of my life; like many others. I started getting involved in University clubs, spoke to people during class and invited a few of them for dinner. During exam time, we would sit together to study, make plans and discuss our vision of the future. A month later, I started travelling around different cities, applied for jobs and went for a few job interviews. I went through the biggest change in my life where I learnt to be responsible, considerate and patient, and to not give up.

'Today, when I look back I cherish the confidence I gained to communicate with people, to voice a choice and to stand strong against odd situations. No institution can teach you the experience of growing up, the importance of motivation and the value of hard work, unless you familiarise yourself with a few struggles. Today, I can say I had the best time of my life in the last four years and the smell of Sheffield rain, heavy wind, trees and everything around makes me feel I am home.'

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