A day in the life at Cambridge University: Zaynab Ahmed

A day in the life at Cambridge University: Zaynab Ahmed

October 23, 2019 18 By Stanley Isaacs


Hi, I’m Zaynab Ahmed, I’m a first year
Classics student at Newnham College which is right behind me It’s really important for me to be
a classicist at Cambridge because I don’t come from that sort of
background of paying for my education I do come from a state school, it’s
a state grammar, but it is a state school And as a BAME student I’m one
of three South Asian people in my year and I think maybe five or six people
of an ethnic minority It’s definitely something
that’s prominent in Cambridge but it’s also something
that’s improving The really good thing is You are here because you are bright
not because you are brown So this is the cast gallery
that the Classics Faculty owns We’re really lucky to have this I actually had my first supervision here and I really, really enjoyed it because I think I’d made the mistake
of sticking too closely to the books I think the humanities are
so necessary because how can you
develop in fields like computing and medicine without having an understanding of what humans are You are so well equipped with
humanities degrees, you get to work on your essay writing, which helps develop
your arguing skills and you’re always going to need to
argue something in life You have to write an essay a week
and it’s hard, but it’s so useful I think sometimes I get essay block and I get essay paranoia and essay anxiety and
essay fear and I just sit in my room,
curled up in bed I don’t want to do
the essay I think that’s for a lot of reasons, you know mainly because I’m
quite a slow reader and reading pages and
pages of books It terrifies me
sometimes And then being able to actually
structure an argument from what you’ve read and write
something thoughtful and clever It seems like a terrifying concept but, you know, I actually sat down with my
director of studies a couple of weeks ago, and I said,
I don’t know how to do this And she just looked at me and said You are very much capable of doing this. She had a look on her face
that said You’re chickening out because you’re lazy,
not because you’re not capable. And so that was kind of the upwards
point of my term for me So I’ve started putting in
a lot more effort but also finding ways that I
can cope a bit more I find smaller articles that I can read and still get a similar amount of ideas The workload at Cambridge
is really, really hectic but it’s really important to
find things to de-stress Yesterday, I had a movie
night with my mates and we just watched a cartoon and it was just so nice to
de-stress, but then I do a lot of extracurricular stuff
and particularly theatre I’m currently stage managing a
production of Romeo and Juliet which is entirely by a BAME cast and
crew, and I’m super excited for it Can we have two? Thank you. Now art thou sociable, now art thou Romeo, now art thou what thou art. I’m the stage manager, I have the
authority here and it’s like, it doesn’t matter how old
people are, like, age doesn’t matter, people just kind of give you that
respect and they trust you to know what you’re doing and to look after
them, which is a really nice thing that I haven’t had before There’s this fear that if you do a
humanities degree, you won’t get a job. I actually met someone this woman was an alumna,
who’d studied Classics But she said, you know,
all of the things that she’d done in her degree had become so
instrumental to her career and, you know, there are so many pathways outside
of Classics. For me, it’s always going to be do a degree you love and do it well,
and jobs will come after that Hi everyone, thanks for watching. If you want
to see what Cambridge is like for yourself, then you can sign up to one of
our July Open Days on the link below.