We Are Essex

Suraj's story

BSc Accounting and Finance student Suraj Chadha sits in the Essex Business School winter garden.

"You can tell that Essex cares a lot about their students and their emotional needs."

I’m not the greatest person at maths but I’ve always enjoyed working with numbers and coming from a family that has run its own business I always knew that numbers was something you had to have a handle on to be successful so I always had that in the back of my mind.

I want to work in accounting at some point and own my own business so it’s good to understand and view the company from a financial standpoint.

I picked pure BSc Accounting first when I joined the university but I had a finance module in my first year and I was interested in saving money. It’s good to create a steady flow of income instead of putting your money towards liabilities, like buying a car that you don’t really need, I thought as I get older I want to invest and have my money make money to achieve financial stability it’s a really good thing to learn. You see so many people who claim that they can do it for you but there is always something hidden, I think it’s better to learn yourself so I switched to BSc Accounting and Finance.

I really enjoyed my finance modules in first year. I actually got a 2:1 in accounting and a 1st in finance and again, I’m not the most mathsy person but I knew that if I just studied then I could achieve firsts. I liked learning about how stocks work and all the information I received is very useful in a practical way and in real life because people come into money and want to invest and it’s important to know how and what to invest in and what to expect. So that’s what I changed to accounting and finance.

I did an access to HE course to get here. I did my first year of A Levels but due to personal reasons I had to left college and I didn’t get straight back into education - I worked for a couple of years first. I wanted to go back and study and by that point it was too late really for me to do A levels. It’s my biggest regret that I didn’t do a levels because I know I could have succeeded in them. But I still got to uni. It helped me a lot. I think I prefer coming to uni as a more mature student rather than being 18. You’re more serious I think. You know you don’t have as much margin for error or to mess up and you’re more focussed I think.

I do think of myself as a mature student. Obviously when you’re at uni you’re going to behave like a student no matter what you do. Most of my friends here are two years younger than me and most of the time they refer to me as the grandfather because I don’t go out every week - it’s not really for me. So sometimes they call me Grandad. You make the life you want at uni. From the academic side, I know I am more mature because that is my priority and I’m not really messing about with it.

Last year I was part of the Essex Business School Student Engagement Team (SET) and on 29 January we had an event but I was still working at Heathrow at the same time so I tried to fit both in. So I was on my way to work. The snow flurry hadn’t started yet but it was starting to come down and it was really cold and I was on the M25 and my car skidded on the black ice and my wheel locked to the right and I hit the central reservation then bounced off across all three lanes and hit the wall on the other side.

At first I thought “I need to get to work”. I had trauma from the accident almost straight away. I was told I was very lucky to come out of the accident alive and that played on my mind and for the first few months I had a bad start to the year. I broke a part of my hand and then with the car accident i had a fractured rib and bad whiplash. I started to have really bad anxiety. I wasn’t eating or sleeping. I was on sleeping medication throughout my exams and I had such a bad 6 months so I was given the chance to re-sit my exams.

It’s not that I did particularly bad in my exams first time round or that I wasn’t revising even - I was revising every day. But I was so fatigued from the trauma and I wasn’t in the right place. But I sat the exam again this summer and achieved a first.

Time to recover made all the difference. I’m still having issues from my injuries, particularly the whiplash, today. It takes a long time to recover. And it’s not just that it’s all the “what ifs?” I get flashbacks and it’s hard to think about. It was a bad time. It does make me feel stronger. Things that used to affect me in some ways I just don’t think about them the same any more. I resat the exams mostly to prove to myself that I could do it.

You shouldn’t go through all that as a student. You can go through one thing at a time but not all at once. It all happened in a short space of time and it was very difficult to deal with. I kept thinking “what happens next?” The year feels like it’s been a blur.

After the exams it has started to get better but I still feel like it has been the worst year of my life. Everyone will experience down times at some point but it’s better to experience at different stages in your life rather than three or four things all at once. But when you get over it and you improve your health and your wellbeing, it makes you ten times stronger.

The services provided for emotional and mental support here are excellent. Going through what I did I was able to speak to someone. They do amazing staff and I said to every student in the SET seminar that I run: use them, because they are amazing. You can tell that Essex cares a lot about their students and their emotional needs. The student services here are excellent. There is so much available. Use it! What they do is hard but necessary.

It’s made me think that life is very precious and that you really need to find the thing that you want to do. Don’t just do what your friends say and be coerced. Do what you want to do. It’s not even about money, you can have all the money in the world but if you’re in the ground then what good does it do and you can’t take it with you. So for me now it’s about finding something that you love.

 

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