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TEDx ICU Interview —- Noor Ul Huda Mallick

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

TEDxICU is a student non-profit organization that aims to provide a TED-like experience for people to express their ideas, be inspired, and find a motivation to step out of their comfort zones. Noor Ul Hudda Mallick will appear at the TEDxICU event scheduled to be held on January 30th from 1-5 pm. The event will be held online with YouTube Premiere and Zoom. Please visit TEDxICU’s official website and Instagram for more information!

K: Kavya Sharma (Editor in Cheif HCICU)
N: Noor Ul Huda Mallick (TedxICU Speaker)

Noor is a civil servant from Pakistan who is currently pursuing her graduate degree in economics from the International Christian University Graduate Program. She is enthusiastic about meeting new people, new ideas, and is a firm believer in taking things as they are, slowing down, and making time to talk to people. She is intrigued with human behavior and has a psychology degree from one of the most prestigious universities in Pakistan — Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad — as well. Learning about people has been a rewarding experience for Noor and she is ecstatic to talk more about her experiences and advice in her Ted talk.


K: Why did you choose ICU as your graduate school university?

N: What attracted me to ICU initially was the seemingly very open vibe — when I was looking for graduate schools, I came across ICU, who pitches itself as a liberal arts university. I thought that by pursuing my graduate school career here, I will be able to study a vast variety of subjects. I knew that ICU would give me a certain amount of flexibility and also, Tokyo! Tokyo is one of the world’s best cities and I do not know anyone who would want to skip out on the opportunity to live and study here. Tokyo in itself is a different experience and I thought to myself that it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the biggest metropolis. Moreover, as a civil servant of Pakistan, I really wanted to witness how the Japanese are staying organized and maintaining a standard for their citizens to live in. In short, I think ICU and Tokyo posed to be opportunities that would better shape the future me.

K: What were your goals, what did you want to achieve out of the experience here at ICU?

N: This is not my first degree. I completed my first degree in 2014. I then went to work at a job that was extremely challenging and hectic, and in the middle of this storm, I stumbled upon the opportunity to reset my life as a student. I saw ICU as a place that would help me adjust to the change that I was looking for and I decided that I would work to get the scholarship to get into ICU. I already had everything I wanted from ICU planned — take a break from my job and figure out the next stage of my life, get an education that would help me with my career, and most importantly, develop more self-awareness of what I want from this educational experience at ICU.

K: You are majoring in economics and you come from a very interesting career background. How do you think that you will be able to connect your psychology degree and your master’s degree in economics?

N: This question has been asked to me only once before — by the CSS interview panel responsible for selecting me as an officer for Pakistan. And I want to answer this question the same way I did before. Psychology is the study of human behavior. If I can understand how to work with human beings, I can work in any field and succeed. The reason I am here at ICU, pursuing a master’s degree in economics, is to sharpen the edges to the sword I already have. I already know how to handle anxiety, how to cope with stress, and how coordinate with my subordinates. And this economics degree will help me to implement both statistical and psychological skills to excel in my career and development in my country.

K: Why did you decide to speak at the TEDxICU event?

N: At first, I was a little skeptical because I did not know what I would speak of. But a lot of my friends and colleagues around me motivated me to bring my ideas to a bigger audience. So, I wrote down about five ideas and brought them to the TEDx team. They decided that I should talk about achieving goals. Organizing my life around achieving goals is something that I do quite automatically, so writing about how to achieve goals or even how to make the journey a little easier was a challenge for me. But, then again, I guess this is the point that I want to get across at the end of the day — you can achieve your goals, no matter how impossible you think they may be if you come up with a system to organize the journey. The systematic method of getting to my goals has really helped me to overcome the times I felt stuck or unable to move ahead with my goals. This is a skill that I want to share with my audience, specifically my fellow ICU students.

K: What will you be speaking about at the TEDx event?

N: Basically, I want to talk about how to cut out the noise from your decisions. Whenever we try to make a decision, there follow about twenty to thirty considerations. Yes, those considerations are valid but not all can be validated. Some considerations are higher up in priorities than others. So, basically, I want to share my advice on how to prioritize intelligently so that your goals seem a little less complicated.

K: What lesson do you want the audience to learn from your speech?

N: Never forget the basics. They are what will always help you and the more you try to complicate your decisions, the more noise in your life.

K: How has the pandemic affected your life?

N: I was never really worried about COVID. I knew that if it is going to happen, it is going to happen. I knew that all I could do it take care of myself, my family, and keep our health in check! I knew I should keep myself fit, avoid the unhealthy lifestyle if I wanted a chance at staying safe. But, what affected me was the isolation periods. It is good to have a little bit of “me time” once in a while but having to stay away from friends and family for longer periods than usual, had started to take its toll on me. My parents got COVID a while ago and that scared me. I felt very alone and demoralized. I am glad that they recovered and are doing fine but I think COVID has affected every human over the past two and half years.

K: How did COVID influence your life as a student?

N: I do not have anything big against COVID, but I feel that it stripped me of the opportunity to make more friends at ICU. I think that was something that I wanted to experience. I wanted to study with my friends in the dining hall (gakki), I wanted to participate in events, but I had come to Japan during the peak of COVID in 2020. Online learning is not my cup of tea and I saw that affecting my grades in the second semester. But I guess, I learned to work in this new environment.

K: According to you, how has the pandemic changed education?

N: In a way, COVID has impacted education in a very positive way. Because universities would have never opted to channel their resources through the online platform. Virtual universities have a hard time proving their credibility, but now we have universities like Harvard and Yale jumping on the online platform. They had to face this obstacle head-on and as a result, I think the system has improved for all since you no longer have to be on campus to take your classes. You have more time to participate in research and the professors are forced to change the way they teach, possibly even change the way they work as well. Moreover, universities before were less inclusive of people with disabilities. Adapting to a system that is more open and accessible for all people. In that sense, COVID has also done some good!


Noor and I spent a lot of time on this interview talking about various things and bonded on the fact that we are both South Asian women living and experiencing Japan. Listening to Noor speak motivated me to think about planning my goals and achieving them efficiently. Nonetheless, I am very excited to see a fellow South Asian woman, who has achieved and experienced so much in life, talk at the TEDxICU event. Make sure you guys tune in on January 30!

Is always listening to music and never paying attention. But tends to get around with things :)
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