Lania Sarwar Mirza
Radiotherapy - BSc (Hons)
Lania was initially hesitant to apply to a university away from home and felt quite nervous about leaving her support network and large family dynamic. Six days before term started she decided to step outside of her comfort zone, face her fears head on and apply to BCU through Clearing. She’s now on track to achieving her dream of working on the front line of the health service in Birmingham.
“I was born in Birmingham but never really had any connection to it. We settled in Manchester and so this is where my support network of friends and family are based. I’m one of five siblings so my family dynamic is really important. My sister was the first in my family to go to uni but she stayed in Manchester, so even though I was keen to study in Birmingham I was really hesitant to leave the security Manchester offered me.
Consequently, I applied to a university in Manchester, was offered a place and accepted. But even after accepting I kept getting a nagging feeling that I wanted to move away to Birmingham to learn more about myself and explore the city. So six days before the start of term I decided to apply to BCU through Clearing.
When I very first started researching degree courses, Covid was just emerging so health services were at the forefront of people’s mind. I really enjoy helping people so had been keen to pursue a vocational course. Radiotherapy appealed to me because it is such a hands-on aspect of patient care and is an integral part of their journey to beating cancer. The pandemic highlighted how important cancer patient care is and the devastating impact that it had due to services having to be suspended or adjusted. My research of the subject had already shown me that it’s an area of health care that is really understaffed so I was really keen to be able to build my career in this area. For me it was key to know that I was studying something that has excellent career prospects straight after graduating.
I felt very nervous applying through Clearing. However I also felt good and relieved that I put myself out there and got into BCU. As I applied for a health course I had to do an interview. The staff were all so friendly and supportive. As soon as I got my offer I was also sent plenty of additional information to help me know what my next steps were. I was able to sort out accommodation really quickly and it was a really straight forward process, which made the move that bit much smoother.
My mom was quite nervous about me moving away but was still very supportive and understood that I needed to make the move in order for me to grow and gain the independence I wanted. I knew that Birmingham offered fantastic career prospects for health professions so it really made sense for me to move there to study and make the most of the amazing placement opportunities.
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I have loved my university experience although it’s had its challenges during lockdown. I’ve been able to attend classes in university and get to meet my course friends then also connect through video chat and remotely. I have received a lot of support through emails about my course and placements. The majority of my course is 60 per cent placement so fortunately Covid hasn’t impacted my uni experience too severely as I’ve had the chance to work on some incredible placements and adapt to working with patients with and without Covid. Learning how to navigate this and treat their cancer has been incredibly insightful but also incredibly challenging. It has hugely benefitted my patient care and my ability to adapt to less than ideal situations whilst always maintaining high standards. Even though this has been a key professional learning experience it certainly did take a toll on my personal life and this was quite difficult to come to terms with.
I did struggle with the fact that I couldn’t travel home to see my family during this time, but my course tutors have been so supportive and understanding of the situation and worked to help make adjustments where necessary to put my mental health first. I also set up a group chat with my whole course so that we could all have a support network and somewhere to go and chat about our assignments and placements. So it’s not just my tutors who’ve been supportive my peers have been an incredible community.
Lania has some great advice when it comes to leaving your comfort zone.
“Just do it. Be brave and put yourself out there. It might be hard to relocate and gain the confidence to be independent without family but it teaches you a lot about life and can help develop your character overall. I’m so glad that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone.”