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New Beginnings

As a 17 year old in South East London, I am constantly surrounded by a multi-racial and multi-cultural community. This has immensely contributed to my passion for travel and my desire to be embedded in various cultures and ways of living. Recently, I have been able to visit Yantai in northern China multiple times, of which were amazing experiences. It allowed me to witness life outside the intense capitalistic nature of London, and experience a more collective, kind and uniform social environment of which I have seen nowhere else. I witnessed mass group exercise of the elderly, evidencing the notorious long life span of the Chinese people. I saw political impositions such as the banning of google and the practical translation of a communist society.  I strongly believe in the notion that travelling is the remedy for ignorance, as many stereotypes constructed by our often ignorant society were readily dismissed. It also helps us to realize that the world does not revolve around me, you or the United Kingdom and that are different and often more efficient foreign ways to living that we would find strange. Traveling expands knowledge about human nature, allows us to find patterns and deviance in the way we each live our lives, allows us to be exposed and motivated to learn different languages that inevitably increase our capitalistic economic value, specifically with such a corporate language such as Mandarin. It allows us to be free from our everyday routines and alter our perspective on simple day to day experiences. If there's anything that we should do more of as individuals, it's travelling, despite your financial situation. Preparing for travel teaches you discipline and enables you the skill of saving. Travel when you are young, When you don't have bills to pay, when you don't have immense responsibility, when the world is kind to you because you are young. When you're most susceptible to learning, when you're most vulnerable to opportunities, travel. Money will always come back and replace itself, time will not.

2017 began with fireworks, countdowns and set resolutions that would soon be forgotten about. The year started off great, I became friends with people I had never thought of forming friendships with and progressed in things I was previously scared of trying such as public speaking. I was already two terms into year 11 yet I still felt and acted as if I was in year 10. As months went by and spring arrived a sudden breeze of reality hit me and the actuality of upcoming GCSE examinations started to haunt me. I began attending sixth form open evenings back to back whilst deeply considering my future beyond secondary school. By March I had come to the realization that I should have started my revision earlier than two months before my exams, during this point in time my stress levels started to peak, this period pushed both me and my peers to our limits both mentally and physically. I had so much information to process in what felt like no time, and I only felt satisfied with my revision after spending hours studying late into the night until the early hours of the morning. Subsequently my sleeping pattern was majorly disrupted, which only made the burden of these exams heavier. Months passed by very quickly and before I knew it the day was May 15th, and the whole of year 11 was lined organized in rows awaiting to enter the exam hall and take their first GCSE. Twenty-four exams and 3 weeks of sleepless nights later, summer holidays had begun. 

I travelled to the stunning city-state of Dubai straight after my GCSEs. It was very refreshing to be constantly exposed to hot temperatures, and new surroundings such as deserts which were home to beautiful creatures including camels. My next destination was my second home – Uganda. This particular vacation was eye opening to me as I learned more about my country and its people through meeting the individuals who held the most power in the country versus those that were less privileged, which overall humbled me as a person. Summer ended on the 23rd August when I received my GCSE results and realized that my late nights had paid off as my grades reflected my hard work, after this I had to prepare for sixth form, and officially went back to school on September 7th. 

My first year of sixth form was a memorable one. It was a turbulent yet exciting period in my life, and the highs alongside the lows of this year have contributed to my personal growth as an individual. The leap from secondary to sixth form is as hard as everybody says, this is due to factors such as the increased independence handed over to students, this is shown subtly through tasks and assignments where the teacher provides little guidance but expects maximum effort. Furthermore, my learning went beyond the classroom. Sixth form taught me that people and friendships evolve, and overall this has prepared my expectations for future relationships. Selfishness is another lesson I have learnt in these past 10 months. Selfishness in regards to time as you do not have enough of it and it goes by so quickly as there is so much work to be done. In addition to having a full work load teachers expect independent research to be carried out, which means that you should not let yourself or anyone else waste your time by using it wisely e.g during study periods. 

Overall the past two years have been the most important to me both academically and personally, I have learnt a lot and I hope to continue progressing in all areas of my life, I have high hopes for the future and at this point in time I cannot wait for the next chapter to begin.

By Shakeelah

Africa Advocacy Foudation