The Undergrad

Mount Royal University student Ghaida Abosafi.

Albert Einstein once said, “a student is not a container you have to fill, but a torch you have to light up.” For Mount Royal University student Ghaida Abosafi, the torch has been lit by caring professors and lively discussions. 

Now in her third year, Abosafi is majoring in General Science. 

 “It doesn’t matter what you call it, you can’t get a job with it,” quipped Abosafi.

However, Abosafi wants to do something related to medicine, and many of the graduate degrees that she is interested in pursuing, such as dentistry or pharmacy, have prerequisites in the sciences. 

She recalls the sciences always being her favourite subjects in high school, to go along with English. Therefore, when it came time to apply for post-secondary education, she knew she wanted to do something in the sciences. 

 Abosafi applied to the University of Calgary for chemistry and Mount Royal University for General Science. Ultimately, she decided to go to Mount Royal, and she says this is one of the best decisions that she has made. 

“You’re more of a name, not just a number,” claims Abosafi. 

 She cites the smaller class sizes, cozier campus, and more caring professors as reasons for why she believed Mount Royal was the better choice for her. 

Abosafi recalled one professor in particular who would stay in the library with the class, sometimes until midnight to help the students prepare for exams in his class. Abosafi remembers that his wife even made food for the whole class to eat during these study sessions. 

Abosafi believes the professors at Mount Royal really care about their students and want them to succeed. She says some professors will make sure that the whole class is on the same page before moving on. 

Abosafi stated that this kind of learning environment has made it an easier transition into post-secondary life. She joked that lectures at the University of Calgary almost seemed more like Ted Talks than classes. 

Another aspect of Mount Royal that Abosafi thinks has been beneficial for her is the electives. Students at Mount Royal are required to take General Education courses, which are meant to give them a “well-rounded knowledge base in a variety of areas.”

Abosafi claims that she has learned more in some of these general education classes than in some of her core courses for her program. She mentioned that these classes tend to be more engaging, focus more on discussion, and teach her more about the wider world. 

“Don’t get me wrong, science is important,” stressed Abosafi. “But to focus on just logic and numbers isn’t as beneficial as having the whole package.”

In particular, the general education courses have given Abosafi the opportunity to engage with people who have different viewpoints than her own. She believes this is beneficial, as it helps her to be able to relate to other people more. 

Advice for new students

As a third-year student who is about to enter her final year of undergraduate study, Abosafi also has some advice for those who are just about to enter that phase of their lives. 

One of the most important tips she has for new students is to not stress about finishing their degree within four years. Abosafi noted it is just not realistic for some programs to be on that timeline, as some courses are not a breeze. 

“One bad midterm, or one bad project can set you back a whole semester,” stressed Abosafi. 

Therefore, she warns students not to put too much pressure on themselves, to instead go at their own pace. 

“It feels like everything is on a schedule of when to finish school, when to get a job, when to buy a house, when to get married,” listed Abosafi. “But it shouldn’t be like that, life isn’t a race.”

The past three years of university have also taught Abosafi a lot of do nots. Some of these include do not buy textbooks (or if you have to, buy the ebook or get a used copy) and do not take 8 a.m. classes. 

But perhaps the biggest do not that Abosafi advises students to make is do not pursue a degree for status or money. She believes it is important for students to find their own thing, and not look to simply appease their family or pursue a degree for material gain.

“If you hate doing it, there’s really no point,” explained Abosafi. 

Abosafi’s prowess as a student has been noted by her fellow students. 

“She’s a hard-working student, she’s punctual, and she works well in groups,” noted Khola Batool, Abosafi’s classmate and long-time friend. 

Strategies for getting through school

Abosafi has excelled at post-secondary education due to strategies she has developed to help deal with the grind of being a student. 

She says that she tries to write down and space out what she needs to do, and keeps to a schedule to get it done. 

Abosafi also tries to not study by herself, which forces her to relax a bit. Additionally, she claims having someone to talk through problems with is good because that person will usually be much more rational than she is at that moment. 

To avoid having a break down from stress, Abosafi also takes a step back from studying if she encounters something she is having trouble with. She tries to take a day away from whatever was giving her trouble and then come back to it with a fresh mind. 

Balancing work and school

Another aspect of being a student that Abosafi has dealt with is maintaining a part-time job while being a full-time student. 

Abosafi, who has worked in a couple of retail jobs over the past three years, would not recommend working while studying unless you absolutely have to. 

For those who do work while in school, she recommends not working during the week and to get all or most of Sunday off in order to prepare for the beginning of the school week.

Abosafi affirmed that the most important thing to do is always make school the priority. She argued that since one is in school, he or she is probably aiming for something bigger than his or her probably part-time, probably retail job. 

“Don’t skip class to take a shift,” advised Abosafi. 

Abosafi outside of school

Outside of school, Abosafi enjoys reading, with the Harry Potter series being her go-to series to read. 

She also enjoys going to new places, such as bakeries and cafes, that are located within Calgary.

Batool described Abosafi as honest but respectful, funny, and as being able to cheer people up when they are down. 

“She makes time for her friends and tries to stay in touch even when things are busy,” noted Batool. 

Abosafi said she would love to travel if she could afford it. During the summer she tries to take trip out to Banff to get away from the city life.

“We get so wrapped up in school and in work that sometimes it’s just nice to get away from it all.”

Article written by @humansofyyc

Brennan Black