Humans of IBCoM – Saaiqa’s Story

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For this week’s Humans of Ibcom I interviewed Saaiqa Merali. This is her story:

Saaiqa was born and raised in a town called Mwansa in Tanzania. “It’s just like the second city of Tanzania.” Until she turned 16, Saaiqa lived in Mwansa. Then, she had to move because there was no continuation in her school for the last two years of high-school. “So, I had to move to Kenya to finish high-school. It was kind of normal at that time, when you wanted to continue an international education. Pretty much half of my class moved away from home.”

After that she started her plans for university. “That was the next logical step [continuing high school] but I also wanted to go to university”. Saaiqa first went to Dubai, to study Psychology with Marketing. “Psychology was kind of a leap. I never studied that before, but I knew that I wanted to do marketing. So, I was thinking more [farther] along the line, like what would make me stand out. Being the best in your field and also make yourself different to all the other graduates [is important in Tanzania] because you have to work hard to get a job. As an attempt to do something different but something I liked, I did psychology with marketing”.

But when Saaiqa started it, she did not like it at all. “It’s not to say that psychology is a sh*t course. It is a good course. It just wasn’t for me. I just couldn’t stay engaged and I stopped going to class because I really couldn’t enjoy it at all. I  wasn’t enjoying myself.” By then, she decided to drop out and after she went home for the summer break, decided not to return. “[At] first my family wasn’t pleased because obviously I already did a year of school and it would all have been for nothing. I wasn’t able to carry my credits and that wasn’t great, either. As parents, they were a bit disappointed, but they were really supportive.” Her parents told her to find something she really liked and to stick to that. Saaiqa is very grateful for the support she received from her family and friends.

The next course she started was IBCoM. “I haven’t been in school since I dropped out in 2013,” she tells me. First, Saaiqa wanted to get straight back to school. For a year she was looking for different courses she could like and felt like she needed to get back. “[I felt like] I needed to get back to university. But somehow, I guess it was my mindset at that time, I just didn’t want to be back in school. So, I always found a problem. I was holding myself back but not admitting it.” Saaiqa decided to do some practical work before going back to university. “ I worked in two marketing jobs and I really enjoyed working [hands-on].”

Later, she did an internship at an events agency, and by then Saaiqa realized that was what she wanted to do. “I was kind of settled and knew that I want to do Media and Marketing and Events and just at the time I was realizing it, IBCoM came up on my computer and I thought it was amazing. Everything about this course seemed perfect. I just applied.” She also applied to many other programmes, but IBCoM was the first response she got back. Since IBCoM was her first choice, it seemed natural to stick with it.

Saaiqa told me that she is always getting two kinds of reactions: either people find her story super cool or super scary; the imagination that you fail and then lose four years of your life for some students is a real horror scenario. “But that’s okay. I’m happy when people ask me about it.”

Saaiqa´s advice to all students that think about dropping out is to talk about it. “I hadn’t talked to anybody about dropping out. I was scared because I did not want to seem like a failure and I had really low confidence and self-esteem.” She found excuses for everything and barely went to university. “I just called my mum once and she was like, “Oh, no.” I decided to do the second term but I barely went to class because I absolutely hated it. It can be scary if you´re about to drop out and don’t know what you´re going to do. It would be nice [for] people know that they’re not lost. You will be fine!”