Wednesday, August 31, 2005

As a Sikh starting University…

I have written an article about my experiences at starting university. Some people may find it useful because sometimes if you starting university you have a lot concerns and worry about what it will be like and how you will cope.

During the summer holidays before I started university, I was looking forward to starting university. I had been brought up and lived in an English area and not been exposed to a large Sikh community or presence. Therefore, I was excited to go to King’s College London because it was known for having a large number of Sikh students and it had the largest Sikh Society in England. I heard people call it ‘Singh’s College’.

The days get closer and closer and soon I was to move to Halls and start university. The day that I had to move into Halls or residence, my family had a wedding to attend to. So we decided to drop my stuff at Halls on Saturday and move in properly on Sunday after the wedding. My brother was going to drop me off in London.

On the Sunday going back to Halls I didn’t know what to expect. The day before, I didn’t see many people or really get a feel of what it would be like. So I wondered how many Singhs will be living with at Halls or how many Sikhs I would get to know on the first day.

My brother and I arrived in London in the evening. He dropped me off and came inside with me. No one was around and I wondered where everyone had gone. The place looked dead. My brother suggested that we should go to the student union bar or something similar to get to know people. I felt nervous, as I was not used to going to bars, clubs or pubs.

Across the road from the Halls of Residence was the King’s Waterloo Campus. We decided to see what was happening there. At the Student Union Bar everyone from the Halls of Residence had got together as an opportunity to socialise. I felt out of place and struggling not to breathe in the cigarette smoke from the people standing around.

I couldn’t see any Sikh, no person wearing a dastaar (turban), and no person, which looked Panjabi. I thought ‘Waheguru, where am I?’ This wasn’t what I was expecting. Trying to mingle people and introducing myself, I felt out of place and not comfortable in the smoking and drinking environment. My brother left a little while after. I was thankful for him that he at least helped me by coming with me to the Student Union, by myself I don’t know how I would have coped.

I got to know some people. But I didn’t get to meet any Panjabis. The next day I got to know all my flatmates. All of them were nice and easy to talk to. During the week I felt bit let down and shocked that I didn’t see any Panjabis or Sikhs. Was this ‘Singh’s College’? I was the only visible Sikh in the whole Halls of Residence.

One of the people who I was sharing a flat with asked me to go to a student club night. She said that all of the people from our flat were going and perhaps it would be a nice place to meet people. ‘You don’t have to drink and perhaps you might see some Sikhs there’, she said. Feeling bit low and lonely, I thought might as well go clubbing, despite not feeling comfortable with the idea considering I have never been before and that I don’t like a smoky environment...

Click her to read full article.


Reeta Kaur said...

Waheguru Ki Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

I am really inspired from reading this (I actually saw your blog 4 days ago, and started reading from your latest posts...but I wanted to start from when you first posted and read from there). I am also starting university this year...over this summer, I have kept all my hairs and am going to start wearing Dastaar as well :) The inspiration for this came from your blog, and through the Grace of the Gurus, I am ready to start on the right path.
Also, your translation of Ardas was amazing. I never really understood the power of Ardas, but now after reading this I will try to do Ardas more.

I did want to ask you a question said you were raised in a "non-Sikhi" society, but I was wondering if you knew Gurmukhi or Punjabi? I was raised first in Canada, and then the USA, and I am not fluent at all in Punjabi, nor do I know the meaning of Gurmukhi written in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Do you have any suggestions?

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

Manvir Singh said...

Bhenji some suggestions to learn Gurmukhi:

1) Find out where your local Panjabi class is and attend (age is no barrier!)

2) Listen to Kathaa/lectures in Panjabi. Pick out some words or phrases you don't know and then ask someone that can help you.

3) There are some self-learn Panjabi books but don't know how useful they are.

4) On YouTube there are some online Santhiyaa videos where you can learn the basics of Gurmukhi and Gurbani pronunciation.

Hope that helps.