My name is Rami and I’m currently a final year anthropology undergrad. This is my Brunel story.
I came to Brunel to study anthropology because I was interested in the topics that were things I cared about and wanted to research on my own, topics that also were going to help me discover things I didn’t even know about myself. I can remember an instance where I was sitting in a lecture about ethnicity and nationality and how it really made me question my own ethnic identity where I was posed with the question “What defines Britishness?”. Simple question, right? I thought so too. But even though being born in the UK and raised here generally defines you as British, if you’re like me and mixed between different cultures (in my case, Arab and Chinese) you know this reality all too well.
But I enjoyed these kinds of questions we’d get in lectures and discuss in class; you could share your opinion without the hateful backlash that you’d get in an online comment section, where I felt that discussion was discouraged. Brunel, on the other hand, asks you “why do you agree” or “why do you disagree?” These responses changed me and felt like a great change of pace.
In my first year, I went on a bit of a bender and joined every cultural society on campus. You name it, I was in it. I tried to immerse myself in the social aspects offered by our student union too, joining over 50 different cultural societies. The events I went to – whether it was debate night with the Sudan society, games night with the Sikh society or bowling with Caribbean society – gave me a chance to really make some good connections and learn about new cultures first-hand without leaving London. It was slightly awkward, being the only east Asian in a room full of people who looked nothing like me, wondering if I was lost or why I was there, but it was a brilliant way of breaking out of my comfort zone – and I highly recommend it as a budding anthropologist! Participating in these cultural societies gave me an important British insight and taster of a culture and future potential placement.
Studying here at Brunel as an undergraduate anthropology student has been one of the best experiences of my academic life and I have nothing but endless high praises about the program. I was so happy to have professors who were supportive, engaging and understanding, compared to my secondary school, where I often felt unheard, ignored, or discouraged for disagreeing with the material. Like I mentioned above, at Brunel, they ask you “why do you disagree?”, and are open to discussion.
Being at Brunel has helped me learn a lot about myself and really opened my eyes to new ways of thinking. Being on this program has taught me valuable skills like critical thinking, organization, and communication. I’ll admit, my first year was a little hectic as I had just moved back to England and had to readjust to everything after living as an expatriate overseas for years while also settling into adult life, but throughout the years, I have learned just how inviting a place like Brunel can be.
As a ‘thin sandwich’ student, I did 2 placements: one in South Korea and one in London. My first placement was completely on a whim to South Korea (sadly North Korea was unavailable). I’d always wanted to visit as it was a bucket list country for me before the Hallyu K-pop phase was cool. When I arrived, the most Korean I’d learnt was learning the writing system on the 15-hour plane ride! I had a job teaching English to locals, and it gave me a great opportunity to experience Korean culture and I had fun getting stuck into an environment where everything was wildly different from what I knew.
My second placement was unfortunately disrupted by the Covid pandemic. I originally planned to go to Hong Kong to study ancient practices in the modern world, but instead remained in England and focused on studying cosplay in online spaces – which has proved to be another interesting experience and insight into a world with which I was unfamiliar.
At the time of writing this post, I am about to finish my final year of Anthropology at Brunel and will graduate on to (hopefully) great opportunities. With my newfound anthropological understanding of the world and the beautiful assortment of people with their different cultures, languages, and religions, I plan to go and work in the Foreign Office as a cultural attaché in a British embassy abroad and with any luck, reach my lifelong goal of visiting every country on earth.
I’m not sure how to end this but here are some pearls of wisdom and some advice:
- Join societies and go to socials! They’re a great way to meet people, particularly one’s which you’re interested in. You’d be surprised in what you’ll find!
- Pick a placement abroad if you can, it’s worth the experience.
- Be confident in yourself and own it!