And Oxford said No

2 comments
So Oxford rejected my application. The letter came through my e-mail last night.

Alhamdulillah, I am not at all disappointed. In fact I'm glad that they're letting me know about the outcome this soon so I can eliminate one possibility from Plan Land and move on with other options.

I'm still a pragmatic ray of sunshine, thank you Allah!

Here's how an Oxford rejection letter looks like. Rather like a sample letter for one of those Language for Occupational Purposes (LOP) exercises:


I'm raring to write more but I think I'd like to sleep first. Last night modern Southeast Asia kept me away from Dreamland.

As always, make du'a for me o readers of firm faith!

(a) Studying history in UIA, and (b) would you like to see my exam questions?

3 comments

Exams

I like exams. They make me think about questions that I usually have asked myself at some point or other.

Or, if I haven't, seeing "new" questions when I flip the question paper to the right side [when the Chief Invigilator announces, "You may begin writing"] will put my brain into a happy, excited "ooh I've never thought of that!" frenzy and I honestly enjoy myself when that happens. If you feel the same way about exams, we can be friends.

In other words, exams are a very real self-development tool for me. Or, I just like them. Okay?

Exams also force me to give solid answers to those questions in 2 hours -- which is not a problem if only I don't have to write down those answers.

What I do

When I tell people I'm a history student, one of the FAQs I get is: "So what do you learn?"

The next question will almost always be, "So does that mean you study Islamic history?"

Yes, Islamic history is a major part of our studies, but it doesn't end there. The truth is, like in any other university, the History & Civilization department of UIA offers courses based on who's available to teach. Some lecturers specialize in Southeast Asian history, some in contemporary Middle East studies, some in archeology (and ancient history), some in Islamic history, some in the Medieval period, and others in Sub-Saharan Africa...or some other region or period, you get my drift.

However, after three-and-a-half years here, I feel/have come to the conclusion that our history courses are very Ummah-centric. There is a lot of focus on the Islamic civilization and the Muslim ummah -- I'll blog about this another time inshaAllah. Or else this post will go on and on and on -- and I think that's the way that it should be, since we're UIA, and the "Islamic worldview" is what UIA offers across all its courses, and is what makes it different from other universities.

We learn Islamic history in its many phases (Rise and Spread of Islam until 132 AH, Abbasid History, Osmanli History, Ayyubids and Mamluks, Muslim Nations in Contemporary History -- and these are just the basics), and then we study the Islamic civilization -- our degree is about History AND civilization, remember? -- but sometimes I still forget the year the Umayyads fell to the Abbasids. And when I do recall a  date (750), I forget whether it's AH or CE, only to remember moments later that 750 CE doesn't make sense [so I'm not totally hopeless Dieu merci!]. And I still can't remember who succeeded who (was it Al-Amin or Al-Ma'mun after Harun Al-Rashid?) and I'm not particularly keen on the battles, even the major ones. *History Student Problems*

Lesson #1 from my degree: I still have A LOT to learn OR what I studied in my undergraduate years was nothing so let's just get to the specialization part where I can re-discover how frightfully inadequate and ignorant I am in just one, tiny branch of historical studies (instead of undergrad study, which reminds me daily how frightfully inadequate and ignorant I am in everything else in history, too).

Questions! *rubbing hands in glee*

So to illustrate (a fraction of) what we study, here's a list of the questions I've had to answer in the five papers I've sat for so far (two more, then game over!):

  1. Discuss the short-term and long-term causes of the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
  2. Describe the role of two major Zionist lobbies in influencing the US policy towards Israel.
  3. "The coverage of Islam in the Western media has been inundated with stereotypes. These stereotypes are repugnant to reason and justice" (Merican, 2005, p. 117). Comment on this statement with especial reference to the role of a prominent Islamophobe.
  4. Who was Snouck Hurgronje? Discuss his role in the formulation of Dutch policy on Islam in the Netherland East Indies.
  5. Analyze the factors that gave rise to the Islamic resurgence in Malaysia in the 1980s and its consequences.
  6. Assess the development of science and technology in the early Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations.
  7. Discuss the legacy of prophets in Hebrew history.
  8. How did the Islamic civilization integrate various nations and tribes?
  9. Analyze the impact of Islamic civilization on the West.
  10. Discuss the role of Muhtasib in shaping Muslim society.
  11. Write notes on the following: (i) The concept of Khilafah (ii) The concept of Shura (iii) Al-Jizyah (iv) Kufic and Cursive scripts (v) The role of Mutawwifun in hajj (vi) Pesantren al-Zaytun (vii) Persatuan Ulama Seluruh Aceh (PUSA) (viii) Tengku Mahmud Mahyiddeen (ix) Tripoli Agreement [1976] (x) The Mujahidin Revolt in Arakan [1948-54]
  12. Discuss the role of the Tecumseh Confederacy (1811-1813) in the British-American War.
  13. Evaluate Thomas Jefferson's views on slavery, religion and politics.
  14. Describe the role of the Confederate Guerrilla during the American Civil War.
(Gotta love the mental time traveling and globe-trotting we do while learning history!)

For me, these questions resemble the questions people ask me about history and issues related to history. They remind me why I'm here in the first place: to understand today through the past (also, to study a field that necessitates the knowledge of multiple languages).

How is that not relevant to my personal and social (if not intellectual) life?

I love exams, I do.

Friday, January 11, 2013

And Oxford said No

So Oxford rejected my application. The letter came through my e-mail last night.

Alhamdulillah, I am not at all disappointed. In fact I'm glad that they're letting me know about the outcome this soon so I can eliminate one possibility from Plan Land and move on with other options.

I'm still a pragmatic ray of sunshine, thank you Allah!

Here's how an Oxford rejection letter looks like. Rather like a sample letter for one of those Language for Occupational Purposes (LOP) exercises:


I'm raring to write more but I think I'd like to sleep first. Last night modern Southeast Asia kept me away from Dreamland.

As always, make du'a for me o readers of firm faith!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

(a) Studying history in UIA, and (b) would you like to see my exam questions?

Exams

I like exams. They make me think about questions that I usually have asked myself at some point or other.

Or, if I haven't, seeing "new" questions when I flip the question paper to the right side [when the Chief Invigilator announces, "You may begin writing"] will put my brain into a happy, excited "ooh I've never thought of that!" frenzy and I honestly enjoy myself when that happens. If you feel the same way about exams, we can be friends.

In other words, exams are a very real self-development tool for me. Or, I just like them. Okay?

Exams also force me to give solid answers to those questions in 2 hours -- which is not a problem if only I don't have to write down those answers.

What I do

When I tell people I'm a history student, one of the FAQs I get is: "So what do you learn?"

The next question will almost always be, "So does that mean you study Islamic history?"

Yes, Islamic history is a major part of our studies, but it doesn't end there. The truth is, like in any other university, the History & Civilization department of UIA offers courses based on who's available to teach. Some lecturers specialize in Southeast Asian history, some in contemporary Middle East studies, some in archeology (and ancient history), some in Islamic history, some in the Medieval period, and others in Sub-Saharan Africa...or some other region or period, you get my drift.

However, after three-and-a-half years here, I feel/have come to the conclusion that our history courses are very Ummah-centric. There is a lot of focus on the Islamic civilization and the Muslim ummah -- I'll blog about this another time inshaAllah. Or else this post will go on and on and on -- and I think that's the way that it should be, since we're UIA, and the "Islamic worldview" is what UIA offers across all its courses, and is what makes it different from other universities.

We learn Islamic history in its many phases (Rise and Spread of Islam until 132 AH, Abbasid History, Osmanli History, Ayyubids and Mamluks, Muslim Nations in Contemporary History -- and these are just the basics), and then we study the Islamic civilization -- our degree is about History AND civilization, remember? -- but sometimes I still forget the year the Umayyads fell to the Abbasids. And when I do recall a  date (750), I forget whether it's AH or CE, only to remember moments later that 750 CE doesn't make sense [so I'm not totally hopeless Dieu merci!]. And I still can't remember who succeeded who (was it Al-Amin or Al-Ma'mun after Harun Al-Rashid?) and I'm not particularly keen on the battles, even the major ones. *History Student Problems*

Lesson #1 from my degree: I still have A LOT to learn OR what I studied in my undergraduate years was nothing so let's just get to the specialization part where I can re-discover how frightfully inadequate and ignorant I am in just one, tiny branch of historical studies (instead of undergrad study, which reminds me daily how frightfully inadequate and ignorant I am in everything else in history, too).

Questions! *rubbing hands in glee*

So to illustrate (a fraction of) what we study, here's a list of the questions I've had to answer in the five papers I've sat for so far (two more, then game over!):

  1. Discuss the short-term and long-term causes of the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
  2. Describe the role of two major Zionist lobbies in influencing the US policy towards Israel.
  3. "The coverage of Islam in the Western media has been inundated with stereotypes. These stereotypes are repugnant to reason and justice" (Merican, 2005, p. 117). Comment on this statement with especial reference to the role of a prominent Islamophobe.
  4. Who was Snouck Hurgronje? Discuss his role in the formulation of Dutch policy on Islam in the Netherland East Indies.
  5. Analyze the factors that gave rise to the Islamic resurgence in Malaysia in the 1980s and its consequences.
  6. Assess the development of science and technology in the early Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations.
  7. Discuss the legacy of prophets in Hebrew history.
  8. How did the Islamic civilization integrate various nations and tribes?
  9. Analyze the impact of Islamic civilization on the West.
  10. Discuss the role of Muhtasib in shaping Muslim society.
  11. Write notes on the following: (i) The concept of Khilafah (ii) The concept of Shura (iii) Al-Jizyah (iv) Kufic and Cursive scripts (v) The role of Mutawwifun in hajj (vi) Pesantren al-Zaytun (vii) Persatuan Ulama Seluruh Aceh (PUSA) (viii) Tengku Mahmud Mahyiddeen (ix) Tripoli Agreement [1976] (x) The Mujahidin Revolt in Arakan [1948-54]
  12. Discuss the role of the Tecumseh Confederacy (1811-1813) in the British-American War.
  13. Evaluate Thomas Jefferson's views on slavery, religion and politics.
  14. Describe the role of the Confederate Guerrilla during the American Civil War.
(Gotta love the mental time traveling and globe-trotting we do while learning history!)

For me, these questions resemble the questions people ask me about history and issues related to history. They remind me why I'm here in the first place: to understand today through the past (also, to study a field that necessitates the knowledge of multiple languages).

How is that not relevant to my personal and social (if not intellectual) life?

I love exams, I do.