How to learn beyond your degree

There are times when no matter how much love something, too much of it can make it seem monotonous. It can make someone feel more drained and less motivated to carry on learning. However, they say variety is the spice of life and this definitely holds true when it comes studying! With this article, hopefully, it may inspire people to find some fun extra-curricular activities to do alongside their studies, regardless of background and level!…

Consider learning language!

As a chemistry student, I always used to seeing numbers, equations, some protein stuff and the odd bit of physics shoved in. However, I found that sometimes I needed a break away from science – I wanted to learn a language. You may know from my bio that I am an English-Iranian and yet I barely had any Persian language proficiency. I decided to take Persian as a sort of mini-project – whenever became burnt out from science, I would immediately switch to learning Persian and I found that it allowed me to stay motivated with my studies as I would come back with a fresh mind.

To tell you the truth, it was hard at times! Sure, I had the benefit of my aunties and my father correcting my Persian whenever I spoke to them, but I couldn’t exactly call them for hours and hours expecting them to teach me! The most difficult aspect of learning Persian was the lack of resources at the time – I needed colloquial/everyday language (Most of the books concentrated on a “Queen’s English” equivalent in Persian, which would laughable in Iran! Now there are a lot of colloquial Persian resources available, including a free website highly recommend to all as it has videos for listening, texts in English, transliterations and the Persian text!)

Over time, my Persian steadily improved, even to the point I could hold a very basic 30-second conversation in Persian with my aunties! It made feel very empowered that I could teach a language myself and use it to talk to a native speaker! This drive allowed me to work harder on both my degree and my language studies. Recalling from my previous blog on 4 tips to take effective lecture notes, where I used “kymbols” to abbreviate various words, I even began to use Persian words in place of English words because not only did I find it was quicker to write, but it allowed me to learn how to read, spell, write and pronounce the word too! (It also made notes more fun to write!)

After spending most of my first-year learning Persian up to an A1 level, I decided I really want to go and use the skills I gained. I saved up enough money by working in a hotel and bought tickets to go to Iran by myself! It was quite an experience; learning how to get past border checks in Iran and even talking to some passengers and the check-in staff! One of the highlights includes being able to talk to my grandmother and climbing a mountain.

If you do decide to learn a language, I highly recommend taking a trip to the country if possible and better yet to find some language buddies! One way of doing that is to attend the library language exchange, where you can have a chat with people over tea/coffee and biscuits and talk in your target language! It has personally helped me meet new people and it is a nice break from your studies! The next event will take place on Tuesday 19th February, in Rootes Learning grid and I hope I will see you there!

Consider something artsy…

How to learn beyond your degree

While I have talked mainly about learning languages as an extra-curricular activity, there are many other things you can get involved with whilst you are studying. My friend, for example, loves to cosplay and attend various events such as MCM Birmingham (I must admit they do a really good job at it!). You could also consider taking up a part-time job for that extra of bit cash or even just sketch whatever you want! The world is your oyster – you have your degree to discover where your interests lie and to make new discoveries! So, go out there and do something you enjoy! Be adventurous and dare to create! See you next time!

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