Voices of UCA: 'Living on Campus taught me a lot about myself,' - Abdul Hakim
Abdul Hakim was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1996. In 1999, he moved to Karachi, Pakistan, where he lived until moving to the Kyrgyz Republic to study at the University of Central Asia as an undergraduate student in Computer Science. Abdul enjoys playing football and working for the social betterment of the world. After graduation, he hopes to continue his studies to complete a master’s degree in architecture and use the connection between computer science and architecture to follow a career in both fields.
This interview is part of a series featuring UCA undergraduate students’ reflections after completing their first year at the university.
Why did you choose to study at the University of Central Asia?
I applied for admission when I learned about the facilities and the environment that UCA provides to its students. I wanted to do everything possible to make sure I could join this university. Besides the curriculum, good education system, and facilities at UCA, there are so many things that we can learn from a new place and its people. I also chose to study Computer Science at UCA to learn more about the software and hardware that we are seeing nowadays, and to understand how to use and improve them.
Tell me about your first impressions when you arrived on campus in Naryn on your first day.
When I first arrived on campus, it was a good feeling to be welcomed by new friends. After the first day of class and meeting the faculty, I realised that UCA is exactly what I hoped it would be. It was a heartfelt moment, and it was good to be in a campus environment that feels like a family.
Before joining UCA, you mentioned that you were looking forward to contributing to the UCA community in Naryn and making new friends from different cultures. How do you feel now that one year has been completed?
When I first arrived to the University of Central Asia in Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic, everything was different and new. It was a good opportunity to learn about my classmates and their cultures. I have adjusted to the new environment and grown to understand the diverse mindsets of people. Over the last year, I really enjoyed making new friends from Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan. All the stereotypes we had about each other are now corrected, and we have built strong friendships. Living in Naryn, I learned a lot about the lifestyle of Kyrgyz people and their history.
What do you like the most about the student life on campus?
Living on campus taught be a lot of things about myself and gave me more independence being away from home. When you have a roommate, you learn to trust someone you did not know before, and you get to learn a lot from them as well. Last year I had a roommate from Tajikistan, and this year I am living with someone from Kyrgyzstan.
How did the preparatory programme prepare you for your second year?
Academically, most of the subjects were familiar to me, but there were many things in the preparatory year that will be helpful for second year. For instance, in English, we learned about the writing style that is used in research papers and other academic writing. Our mathematics and science classes will also be useful for our research papers and other subjects. Furthermore, by studying in a new and different society with diverse people, I learned many things about my classmates and the way they think.
Before moving on to a four-year undergraduate degree programme, incoming students are enrolled in an intensive, one-year preparatory programme. Developed in partnership with Seneca College in Toronto, this programme is designed to help incoming students attain the necessary English and critical thinking skills to succeed at the university level.
How did you find the Computer Science Connecting to Your Discipline week?
Connecting to Your Discipline (CYD) was helpful to all the students with their majors as we learned about our disciplines. During the week covering Computer Science, I learned about programming languages and developing mobile software, games, and websites.
UCA’s Connecting to Your Discipline was a week-long course during the third semester that offered a series of workshops, guest lectures, career panels, interactive activities, and field trips to help students better understand their specialisations: Earth and Environmental Sciences, Computer Sciences, Economics and Communications and Media.
What are you looking forward to most going into your second year at UCA?
In my second year, I am most excited to learn about the history of Central Asian countries. Also, last year we took Russian language classes, and this year we will be learning Kyrgyz.
Do you have a favorite memory from your first year to share?
My favourite memory is when we were preparing for the inauguration of the Naryn campus. There was a lot of excitement leading up to the historic event. This event was attended by UCA’s Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan; senior representatives from the government of the Kyrgyz Republic; and leaders of the University of Central Asia.
If you could share advice to incoming students, what would you tell them?
Students should socialise more with all the new people that they will be studying and living with on campus.
What do your family and friends think about you studying at UCA?
My family is very happy with my studies at UCA. They often tell me that I am lucky to be at UCA with all the facilities provided. And I do feel like I am lucky.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
The University of Central Asia (UCA) was founded by His Highness the Aga Khan and the Presidents of the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. In addition to providing an international standard of higher education, UCA aims to promote the social and economic development of Central Asia and help the peoples of the region to preserve and draw upon their rich cultural traditions as assets for the future.