SOAS had always been my top choice when I was applying to universities for my Master’s. Naturally, when I received my admission letter for MA South Asian Studies and Intensive Language (Sanskrit), I was over the moon. The cherry on top was that it wasn’t just a one-year course, but a two-year-long programme, due to the intensive language component. I came to London, not knowing what to expect. I just had the thought that I was starting a new chapter in my life. So, here I am having completed one year of my degree, with another year still to go.
Boosting my confidence
The first thing that I tell people when they ask about my time at SOAS is the differences I’ve observed from my undergraduate back home. While my undergraduate was intense (probably more so in certain aspects), I’ve been dividing my time in London between my studies, part-time work and still managing to take time out for myself and to socialise with friends.
At SOAS, I have also been much kinder to myself, and not berated myself for not getting unrealistically high grades in every subject. I’ve learned to take space and voice my concerns. I have become much more confident as a person.
Embracing different opportunities
SOAS has also given me opportunities to explore different roles, such as my roles as a student representative for MA South Asian Studies and a Digital Ambassador. Being a student representative was one of the most enriching experiences. It’s not only enabled me to understand students’ concerns but has also helped me to understand how academia works. This is something I feel I might want to pick up at some point.
In my role as a Digital Ambassador, I was mostly writing blogs and covering important events. You find my blogs and write-ups here. Attending guest lectures and panel discussions provided me with learning experiences that I wouldn’t usually get in the classroom.
Studying MA South Asian Studies
SOAS has delivered on its promise, I’ve been able to study the range of exciting modules I was told I would be offered. One of the best modules I took during my first year here, was Sacred Sound in South Asia by Dr. Richard Williams. I never imagine you’d be able to trace the history of music and use music as a source to study history. I was initially worried about taking the course and doing well in it, as I didn’t understand the nuances behind music theory. But, thanks to Dr. Richard Williams, the module felt like a breeze.
I’ve found myself appreciating different music and dance forms from India since taking the module. It’s had so much of an impact on me, that when I came home to India, I attended classical Indian music concerts and dance performances, and even took my family along!
If I was to give some advice to the students coming to SOAS next year, it would simply be – go explore! I am referring to exploration in a twofold meaning. Firstly, go explore all the options, facilities, and resources that SOAS has to offer. Being part of the network under the University of London, you’ll have access to a number of shared resources. For example, you can study in the beautiful Senate House Library, which is right behind SOAS. In there, you’ll find students from different University of London schools and colleges all working together. You could also take electives from other schools and colleges as well, and access their student bars and common spaces. Plus, with UCL and Birkbeck literally being our neighbours, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to grow your network.
Secondly, you must explore London itself. SOAS is centrally located with amazing connectivity. You’re minutes away from not only the tourist spots, but also amazing cafes, study spaces, and museums. London is a very welcoming city and one of the major reasons I chose SOAS over my other options was because I was truly enamoured with the city.
Don’t come all this way to sit in your room or in the library. Take yourself out for walks and coffee breaks. If you’re feeling adventurous, get on a random bus and ride it until its last stop. London has so much to offer. Personally, I could never tire of the city, because it has something exciting to offer at all times (maybe not the weather though!).
Surabhi Sanghi is a SOAS Digital Ambassador, pursuing a master’s degree in South Asian Studies and Intensive Language (which also means she gets to be in London for one whole extra year). She has a background in history and is interested in the religions of South Asia. She is a dog person and her only wish is to be able to pet all the dogs in London.