Optometry student Sundas Qayyum answers our questions about her experiences as an American student at ARU.
Why did you choose to study at ARU?
A very avid optometrist who happened to be a proud former student of ARU first introduced me to this remarkable university. She dedicated her success to the university, which awarded her with wisdom and confidence. This intrigued me and I instantly began to research ARU.
I did explore other universities, but ARU stood out to me because of the level of satisfaction the students receive from their lecturers and overall experience. Also, having a strong passion, for Optometry I wanted to seek education from a university that is as devoted about teaching as I am about learning. Hence, ARU was the right fit for me.
Tell us about your course. How would you sum up your experience of studying at your course so far?
I am currently studying Optometry BOptom (Hons), having completed two years so far. I have already gained an immense amount of knowledge and skills, which have helped me secure a pre-registration before even starting my third year. Not only have I applied my skills at university, but in the workplace too. This level of awareness has helped me progress to more challenging tasks at work.
I have enjoyed working in the University Eye Clinic as I have aspired to be an optometrist for a long time. Having the privilege to step inside my own room and be testing in it has been a huge stepping stone for me, so the clinic motivates me to strive even harder.
Tell us about any course specific or university facilities that you have found useful during your studies.
I have found using the practice labs the most useful during my studies. The teaching labs are there to teach me the skills, the practice labs allowed me to master them. Without these labs I wouldn't be able to perform as confidently during my assessments and viva.
Would you recommend your course to others and why?
I have recommended this course to a few of my work colleagues primarily due to positive outcomes from this degree. Being an optometrist gives a lifetime of job security, a stable income, and flexibility in working. Being a qualified optometrist is more than just working for one company.
What is your favourite thing about the university?
My absolute favourite thing about the university, I have to say, are my lecturers. The engagement with their students and their willingness to go the extra mile to educate really shows their passion for teaching.
What has been the most challenging aspect of studying or living in the UK, and how did you cope with it?
I have been very lucky to have a supportive family who have pushed and motivated me to complete this goal that I have always been passionate about. They have always encouraged me and supported with any challenges and problems. Being miles away from them has been the most challenging part of living abroad. Keeping in contact daily via phone makes things a lot easier.
Tell us about Cambridge. Do you like living here and why?
Cambridge has its own culture and traditions that are so unique that you can’t help but fall in love with this beautiful city. I think it is a great place to visit, especially in the summer.
What is your favourite aspect of your non-academic life?
I love going out/ travelling with my husband, family, and friends. I enjoy going to different places in London: shopping, restaurants, and doing activities in various parts of the city.
What are your ambitions/plans for the future – further study or employment?
I would like to pursue my career in optometry and eventually establish my own independent practice. This has been a dream I’ve wanted to achieve for a long time.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience at ARU, or the UK?
Studying at ARU will always be a unique and unforgettable experience for me. I never thought that I would ever be studying abroad, nor did I ever think I would leave the States. So when I did move after being married I was very fearful for studying in the UK as I was unaware of the workload and grading system.
ARU’s administration and my lecturers have always been there for me, every step of the way. I've had a much more enjoyable time in this university than I did in the States. Because it’s a smaller university, I got a chance to make more friends and have more interaction with my lecturers than in just the classroom.