Nadiah Zahraa Adnan has always been committed to making the world a better place. Now based at the United Nations University in Kuala Lumpur, her work focuses on changing global attitudes about International Development - supporting local decision makers and stakeholders in the Global South to engage effectively with health challenges their countries are facing.
Before this, Nadiah spent six years in the UK, studying for undergraduate and master’s degrees in sociology and anthropology. Here, she explains why the UK was the best place to prepare for her world-changing career.
The best possible destination
While studying for an A Level in Sociology at home in Malaysia, I thought:
‘This is it. This is what I want to do with my life.’
When it came to continuing my education, I knew that I wanted to study in the UK.
There are many reasons for that. There is a longstanding relationship between the UK and Malaysia. My family went to English speaking schools, and I grew up with a lot of British culture. Beatrix Potter and, of course, Harry Potter. Even Thomas the Tank Engine!
But most importantly, the field of social sciences is more developed in the UK. Respected International organisations such as Save The Children and Oxfam began there. My access to expertise and world-class research would be higher. And I chose Warwick University, as it is one of the world’s best universities to study Sociology at an undergraduate level.
I had other reasons, too. I chose the UK to expand my horizons, broaden my mind and - as it is so easy to visit Europe - to feed my cultural junkie behaviour.
New friends, new experiences
In my halls of residence we had a warden, who lived on site, and who we could ask for help if we needed it. They would also help us with things like discounted phone cards, so you could call home cheaply and easily. It was reassuring to know there was support there, even if you never had to use it. And as a Muslim, I could find halal food everywhere!
Also, while there was a Malaysian community at my university it was important for me to make new friends from the UK and other countries. There was always fun stuff to do. And the university had so many clubs and events - from sports to book groups to a ‘chocolate appreciation society’ (!) - there were lots of opportunities to make friends and experience different things.
New ways of thinking
A unique thing about UK education is that you’re encouraged to think for yourself. It isn’t about writing down what the lecturers say, then memorising it. Instead, you develop an ability to challenge things, and to discover new and better ideas. I think that’s one of the most important skills in life, and in whatever career you choose.
In fact, some seminars were entirely focused on discussion and the sharing of ideas and arguments. It was a respectful and safe space to debate. I found that extremely valuable and intellectually stimulating.
'You develop an ability to challenge things, and to discover new and better ideas.'
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