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Basmah’s Balance: Maintaining a Studious, Social, and Extra-Curricular Life

Meet Basmah Ramadan, one of the best people I’ve met on campus. She and I first met during a HIS103 lecture in first year and we’ve been inseparable ever since. One thing I have always admired about Basmah is her commitment, not only to her university struggles – I mean studies, but also her social life and her wide range of extracurriculars on the side, all while commuting to campus every day. I knew I wouldn’t be alone in thinking this, therefore I asked her to relay her wisdom to us all.

Name: Basmah Ramadan

Year: 2

Majors/Minors: International Relations Major with a double Minor in History and Equity Studies

Why did you choose International Relations?

I wanted to do International Relations because as a Syrian, given what’s happening in the Syrian conflicts for the past couple of years, I felt obliged to learn about and take part in the process of recuperating my country. I also felt it was my moral imperative to help Syria in the future especially in a global perspective rather than just domestically mending the issues, particularly through working with the United Nations which is my dream job, and I knew International Relations would help me achieve my goals.

What are your plans after graduation?

My plans are currently uncertain; don’t tell my mom. It honestly depends on time. I want to either start work with the UN right away or I will go to law school. Both options I’m very passionate about. As a lawyer, I’d like to practice social justice law.

What on-campus extracurricular activities are you involved in?

On campus I’m a part of the University College section of WUSC, which is the World University Service of Canada; we’re in charge of sponsoring a student refugee every year to come study at UofT. While the student is here, we try to acclimate the student to UofT life and the Toronto life in general in any way we can. I’m a co-director on the team. I am also a part of the Muslim Students Association on campus, MSA, and I’m currently taking on the role as the Global Education Director. This role entails hosting events to spread awareness about certain global justice issues. I’m working on soon becoming the UC Director on UCLit; since this is a position that is also involved with the UTSU, I get to be more interactive with not just my own college, but also the university as a whole. So if anyone reading this is in UC, vote for me!

How does your commuting fit into all this?

Commuting is actually helpful to me in a way, it gives me time to think and it’s a little downtime every day to collect my thoughts or mostly just daydream. University and life as a whole can be a lot to cope with sometimes but with commuting, I’ve learnt that even though it’s a little time-consuming it helps me gather my thoughts and just mentally wind down after classes or prepare myself before the day starts.

How do you balance all this and your social life?

Basically, it all boils down to being as organized as possible and keeping all your commitments in check. I’d like to think that I have a solid group of friends that understand my commitments and obligations. I tend to keep my calendar synced on my laptop and my phone which helps me keep track of things and my friends are a great help by being as understanding as possible and keeping me in check along the way as well.

What are some pieces of advice would you give any UofT students that want to achieve this balance?

Firstly, when you sit down in a lecture please introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you. They’re probably going through the same concerns as you about the course and it’s always nice to have someone to work on the course with; I met some of my best friends like this. On the topic of friends, you need to learn that it’s okay to say ‘no’ sometimes. The key to finding a balance between everything you’re juggling in life is learning to say no to things that don’t necessarily fit with you, whether it’s plans with friends or commitments that might clash with other priorities; it’s okay to look out for yourself and say no. Keep yourself organized by making a system to organize your things, whatever works best for you. Most of all, do what makes you happy and participate in things that actually interest you. You don’t need to get involved because it looks good on your record. Rather you have to keep yourself motivated to actually fully commit to it.

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Mehr Yawar

U Toronto '22

Hi I'm Mehr, pronounced meh-her, and I'm an International Relations major aspiring to become a human rights lawyer someday. Find me at the nearest café consuming copious amounts of caffeine. If you want to talk about anything from beauty to food, music to politics, and everything pop culture, I'm your girl.
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