By Ankita Vinjamuri
After years of hustling and bustling to get into medical school, one day you actually find yourself as a university student, possibly in a brand-new city, perhaps living away from home and it all happens so fast. But you will be surprised at how much Uni can actually offer! In Manchester, the atmosphere is very inclusive, multicultural and it is easy to meet and make new friends. Medics bond over their timetables, medic events and we easily create our own comfortable bubble. But Uni doesn’t have to stop there!
I was surprised to discover ‘Manchester Hindu Society’ in the freshers’ fair, something I had no clue even existed! Learning more about events and celebrations I was expecting to go home for; a new chapter opened up for me. I met so many students, who shared the same beliefs and interests, though studying different subjects and from different area. Despite all this, it truly felt like a ‘home away from home’. I met some of my now closest friends, who I otherwise never would have bumped into.
Attending many events over the year and getting to know Hindus from all years of study, creates its own network. Older medical and dentistry students were quick to offer support and advice and really helped with a sense of identity. We met weekly which helped build rapport, we prayed together, and learnt a lot about the basic and different approaches and ideas within Hinduism. We even met other Hindu Societies through regional and national meetups via sporting, Garba (North Indian Dance) and other events, expanding the network further!
The society appoints a new committee every year, giving chances to new students, and I had the amazing opportunity to be the President in my 2nd year of uni! Yes, I was a medic and President of Manchester Hindu Soc! I knew it was a huge role with responsibility, but I was constantly supported and encouraged by everyone around me. My fantastic committee achieved plenty, selling a record number of tickets for the annual Diwali ball, and even learning a full dance routine. My confidence in the role and myself grew exponentially throughout the year, and I was determined to maintain the high standards set by the previous committee. Further, I wanted all new members of the society to enjoy all the events, as much as I first did. Balancing medicine and society work was challenging, but exciting. I had to learn to share the workload and responsibility with the other committee members, accepting when I couldn’t physically handle something myself. I had to stay on top of my uni work to not get caught behind, but I think the pressure actually helped.
I had an amazing year (cut short because of lockdown) but the experience shaped me into the new person I am today, having experienced both leadership and team-work. Being part of the committee of a team/society that you love and enjoy really is recommended, as it truly teaches life skills that aren’t available just doing the usual course. I surprised myself and so can you!