A new world to be explored

Rukhsana Yeasmin recounts her experiences of studying BA Classics at Birkbeck and the deep love she developed for the subject, which she is now continuing at MA level. She credits her tutors for support and guidance that got her through her degree in difficult times.

The year I decided to study for my undergraduate degree, Birkbeck seemed to be the best option with its strong reputation, its rich facilities in the heart of London and teaching from world-leading experts in the field of Classics. I have never regretted choosing Birkbeck since then.

My journey into the classical world started with my love of philosophy, although I never knew at the time that I was merely looking through the window, with a big new world still waiting to be explored. As I delved deeper into classical literature, it taught me in the most profound – yet accommodating – way that truth is the greatest of all virtues. It is the perfect beauty of truth that provided courage to both Odysseus and Aeneid to undertake the long journey of uncertainty. Similarly, it inspired Plato, Aristotle and Seneca to dedicate their lives in explaining and teaching philosophy. Classical literature teaches us that the search for truth remains sacred to all human existence, and the very thing that makes a hero out of a man.

Although passion will carry one through tough times, achieving good results in a subject requires constancy, dedication and persistent effort every day. While having to care for an elderly parent and going through my own personal crisis in relationships and almost all spheres of life, I found deep solace in classical literature. One of my favourite verses that I learnt in my time at Birkbeck is ‘Dum spiro spero,’ or, ‘as I live I breathe.’

I had regular meetings with my personal tutors, who so kindly and promptly replied to all my emails with guidance and support every time that I reached out to them. In my two year-long modules on Greek history with Dr Christy Constantakopoulou, I was transported to Greece in every lesson, and all ancient writers and warriors came back to life. In the presence of my teacher and dissertation supervisor, Professor Catharine Edwards, everywhere my life glanced I saw possibility. I have had supreme pleasure and the deepest sense of fulfilment while working under her supervision. I am thoroughly indebted to the selfless support and guidance of both my personal tutors Dr Serafina Cuomo and Dr Christopher Farrell for supporting me in completing my undergraduate degree. Moreover, I have never met an undergraduate administration staff member as helpful as David Jones, who was always welcoming and ready to support me whenever I was in need. If it wasn’t for the help and support of them all, I do not think my hard work alone would have got me this far. I remain deeply grateful to Birkbeck and all these members of staff.

I am now studying for my MA in South Asian Area Studies while focusing on the history, philosophy and literature of Ancient India at SOAS. My studies of the classical world at Birkbeck have prepared me to bring new perspectives into my recent studies, and I wish to carry on with further education focused on the historical, cultural and ideological transaction with Graceo Bacterian Kingdoms.

Once one has studied the classical world, one is ultimately placed into the axis of world literature, from where literature of every era becomes relative. The fusion of the past, present and future is so inevitable within classical literature within classical literature that one gets lost and found simultaneously. This is exactly what a classicist experiences, and this is why we study classics.


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