Electrical Engineering Academic Journey Self Reflection
It is true that almost every African international student that has come to pursue varsity here has quite a story to tell. Many arrive not knowing what they want to do, others question their dreams along the journey, others do have a process of re-aligning what path they should take. But one thing that stands out is everyone has a unique journey. And aside the blogs that generally describe how to navigate the varsity space which I find really helpful, living out people’s stories through their pieces helps you either directly relate to their journey or just pick out useful pointers from different people’s experiences, since more often than not, one size doesn’t fit all. And I share my story in that regard, hoping someone could pick out even just one thing that could make their lives even better.
I came to UCT as an international Ugandan student, not fully knowing what I wanted to do, I actually didn’t have a very firm reason as to why I chose to study here. I did realize though that having done A-levels back home really did help get into UCT, just as with many of my Zimbabwean friends. I did Electrical and Computer Engineering, because naturally doing Physics and Mathematics in high school tuned you into that direction, and back home we also attached the engineering profession to being one of the better career options. Going through the varsity scene, going through the transition into figuring yourself out in a different environment almost clouds your intention and reality of your academic journey, and fast forward you’re preparing for exams and don’t know how you got there, and it’s a game of catch up from then on. Looking back, my lens was very short sighted going into each semester, with a plan to just make it through and do better than you did previously. I never really looked intently into what my degree was shaping out to be, how I could make the most out of internship experiences to understand the applicability of what I studied, the available networking opportunities and carefully planning out my post-academic journey.
I however ended up pursuing a Masters in Electrical engineering and I’m still on this journey, but what it has taught me is a change in mindset from just doing things because they need to be done to understanding why we are doing them, especially with a lot that we get to learn. Suddenly, with certain courses I studied in my undergrad that I didn’t understand the reason we did them, I could finally understand their implications and importantly, their real-world application. I feel this masters journey has better prepared me for work life, and more-importantly helped me step back and use the mindset change to self-introspect and understand myself better, just like how I was figuring out what I was studying. Because ultimately, this is our life story that we are painting, and finding out all the deeper aspects of yourself from what keeps you going, why you choose to do certain things or have certain inclinations will help you understand clearer and firm your reason for doing things and help you easier navigate many challenges that you will come across in your life journey.