Name: Ruqayya Ahmad
Major: International Studies & Sociology
What inspired you to pursue this area of study?
Studying International Studies allows me to take a deeper look at the history of different regions and how they’ve developed into what they are today. Additionally, the International Studies program at UCI is interdisciplinary, so I can take many different types of classes that are of interest to me. This helps me develop a strong background in a variety of fields and gain very important analytical skills. I also recently added Sociology as a second major after taking a Sociology class on migration while I was abroad. I really enjoyed this class because, unlike my International Studies classes where I normally study the government, the state, and different organized societies, this class focused more on the people, especially those in unorganized societies. I realized that there’s a difference in how these immigrants are studied. They can be studied in more of a political lens — in terms of states and institutions, or in more of a human approach. I enjoyed that the Sociology class allowed me to look at them as individuals and as real people rather than reducing them to numbers on a page for us to study.
How many languages do you speak?
I speak Punjabi, Urdu, and English fluently. I also speak a little bit of Arabic and Turkish. I’ve studied Arabic for two years and Turkish for a semester. For the new year, I’ve made it one of my priorities to continue learning the languages that I’ve studied because I’m really fascinated by Arab and Turkish culture and I want to be able to immerse myself in those cultures. Also, the smiles you get from those who actually speak the language, in return for your efforts, are worth every moment spent learning.
Best part about studying abroad?
The best part about studying abroad was the adventure. I would spend most of my days going out and exploring different parts of Istanbul, getting to know the exceptionally warmhearted people, the area, and realizing that the more I saw, the less I really knew. This adventure also came with spontaneity. From buying plane tickets to go to different cities in Turkey to buying a plane ticket to go to a different country, the entire experience really allowed me to become more independent, assertive, and confident in myself and my ability to adapt in different settings. It also helped me become more open to trying new things and made me appreciate all of the things I often take for granted.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about studying abroad?
I know it’s really redundant and you always hear people say that studying abroad was the best part of their college career, but I completely agree. I’ve now become such a big advocate for studying abroad. There is so much that the world has to offer—it is not homogeneous, and the best way to learn is by putting yourself in situations you may not be comfortable in and growing from them. Studying abroad really helps expand your cross-cultural communication skills, be more open-minded, and causes you to become more humble.
If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I’d probably say “Don’t Stop Believing” just because I never get tired of singing along to that song whenever I hear it, and also so many great memories are attached to that song.
Favorite way to spend your time?
There are so many things. I enjoy going on spontaneous adventures, hiking, reading up on current events, watching movies, playing board games/card games, going to theme parks, advocacy work, painting, doodling, and journaling!
A show you absolutely love?
One of my pet peeves is when people have a hard time admitting they don’t know something. We are all here to learn from one another. There’s absolutely nothing wrong in asking questions and admitting you don’t have all the answers. Being able to admit you don’t know something but are willing to learn allows you to retain integrity and shows that you are willing to set aside your pride.
An awkward moment you’ve been through?
I go through a countless number of awkward moments each week unfortunately. Most recent one that I can remember was yesterday actually. I was posting a flier on a bulletin board for an upcoming event at work and a spider appeared out of nowhere and I flinched and screamed and dramatically dropped the flier I was putting up along with the rest of the fliers I was carrying. It probably wouldn’t have been as embarrassing as it was had one of my professors not been standing a few feet away from me…