Amundeep's blog #1

Survivor

My Journey Through Academia

I was 13 years old when I had my first brain tumour (astrocytoma) and that was followed by a recurrence two years down the line. Six years down the line I successfully completed 3 A levels, completed a studentship in a university in Sydney and was awarded a First-class honours degree at King’s College London in chemistry.

The journey from my first surgery to the day of my graduation has been a rollercoaster both mentally and physically, and looking back on the challenges- they were all achievable. I believe that given the right environment, anyone can succeed academically and achieve greater than they imagine possible. I wish to share with you, the reader, the things that I wish someone had told me before my pursuit of academia.

  1. Having a positive mind set is crucial as no one is correct 100% of the time. It is important to acknowledge that along the path there will be mishaps and that that is acceptable. Successful people in life don’t tell you about the amount of times they have failed. We need to learn from our mistakes and look at failure as an opportunity to start anew with greater knowledge.
  2. Work in the present, plan for the future. If we want to achieve our goals, the hard work has to be put in. Dream big, break it down into daily tasks, keep at it and ignore distractions. Determination, motivation and persistence are three qualities that are helpful here and I try to exercise them as often as I can. A big dilemma for me is the speed and efficiency of my hand eye coordination, this affects my ability to participate in sporting activities to even the small things like the readability of my handwriting. I did not let this biological flaw take control of me and neither should you!
  3. Time management, if you come out of this article remembering only one thing please remember this. To get tasks done on an appreciable timescale, it is vital to utilise whatever time there is available to you, whether you are learning a new instrument/language or sitting in a 2-hour exam, tackling these situations involve you having to make the most of the time you have. I previously mentioned my handwriting is slow so to “tackle” this situation, I got in touch with the disability services at my university and got extra time in exams.
  4. Be sociable, surround yourself with positive people and keep in contact with friends. Sometimes after encountering issues almost everywhere you might get stressed, completely normal situation- seeing a friendly face is always a great stress buster and engaging in conversation is relaxing and lets you unwind. However, being sociable to the extent where it might jeopardize your goals is something to look out for!
  5. Exercise - a few years ago I discovered the gym. And while I have never been fond of physical exercise, it is helpful to be in an environment where everyone around you is working towards the same goal as you- keeping fit. I find that hard work at the gym has a positive impact on my mood and really helps with having a “positive mindset”.
  6. Drink water! I don’t need to be a chemist to tell you that your body is made of primarily water. Keeping a healthy diet is also important, after all you are what you eat. It’s never too late to change your diet. Every day the machinery inside your body is changing its composition and introducing small changes to your diet can make a big difference!

It is important to recognise your achievements and to pride yourself on how far you have come. After all the good things in life are often the ones you have to work the hardest for! I am proud of how far I have come and I know the journey does not end here. Currently I am starting my Masters in research at Imperial College London and while I have a feeling it’s going to be tough, to that I respond “challenge accepted”.

Remember- you set the limit!

Amundeep Singh Dhaliwal