Having spent over a year looking at courses and universities here and abroad, weighing out my options and driving myself insane over how much certainty I was looking for in my future, I was finally ready to walk through the corridors that I would call my home for the next three years. You know how they say the first impression is the last impression? That’s one of the reasons as to why we focus so much on making our “first days” memorable. This doesn’t mean that you can’t change an impression, but I suppose you know where I am going with this. When the memory of our “first” combines with an extreme emotion we tend to remember it for a longer time than anticipated.
25th of October 2016. Walking into the lobby of Block 16, I remember feeling overwhelmed by the number of new faces my brain was trying to register. The sound of excited freshers filled the halls, freshers flooded the lobby, scrambling from one registration desk to another, trying to get their hands on their student IDs, running around looking for their classrooms, and trying to make friends or even just trying to blend in.
For the first time in as long as I could remember, I felt very out of place until the day that I joined one of the sports teams. My first days consisted of hesitation; hesitation to ask for directions to the food court, hesitation to make friends, hesitation to sign up for a club, hesitation to become a part of a sports team – nothing but hesitation as I tried to take in everything that was happening around me.
I am now in my second year at Middlesex University Dubai and I have been a part of the football team for over a year now. I can’t emphasise enough how joining the team has changed my life. I have met some incredible people who would go above and beyond for me as I would for them because of the bond we now share. Some students had been on the team for a while and some were new to it just like me. They’ve all been heartwarmingly welcoming since day one. It has only been over a year and we’ve all come so far. We’ve all grown so much, not just as folks that play football but as individuals, together. Training twice a week, looking after each other’s injuries, appreciating each other’s efforts, riding the bus to our games, sharing stages at our victories and discussing new strategies after our losses, we have come a long way. To me we aren’t just a team anymore, we’ve become family. With different ages, different courses, different ethnicities and only one thing in common, united by our love for sport. I found one of my many places at Middlesex University Dubai, and if you haven’t already – you can too.
Ironically, I wasn’t going to sign up for the football club, it wasn’t my sport, I hadn’t kicked a ball in over a decade. In fact, I didn’t even walk to any of the registration desks on my first day, “Agh, too many people” I thought. So how did I find my way to the team you ask? Around noon on my first day, as I walked outside Lab 103 enjoying my bar of snickers from the vending machine after just having received my student card, the team captain and her vice decided to approach me. Little did they know, that I wasn’t indulging on my bar of snickers, I was choking on it. They asked me if I was okay as soon as they realised, and I just nodded and asked for a minute to take in some air.
“We’re recruiting girls for football, you want to sign up?” she said smiling.
“I don’t play football”.
“It’s okay you can learn” she eagerly responded.
“Umm.. I don’t know”.
“Tomorrow’s our first training session, just try it out” she pushed.
“Ah fine...” I said.
“Oh and we noticed, you’ve been walking by yourself, so if you need company we’re just downstairs” she insisted, pulling her blazer into place.
My hesitation couldn’t stop me from signing up, and the team spirit didn’t allow me to keep away from training. Now I sit here, in Lab 103 typing the story of how I found my place in Middlesex because for the first time that day, I didn’t let my hesitation win. My first impression of the team was how welcoming and polite they were, that stuck with me, it got me over my hesitation, and that is the memory of my first day that I’ll always carry with me.
Do yourself a favour, join a team, or a club, find something that you’re passionate about and keep trying until you find the right thing for yourself. Your experience at university is in your hands, the memories you want to make are in your hands, what you do with your time now, is on you. Make the most out of it, it won’t come back. Don’t let hesitation take over.