Things I wish someone had told me about LUMS — Sophomore Edition
You’re going to start looking for work/internships now (‘now’ should start from May, btw). If you want to stand a chance, always make sure you spend at least half an hour researching the company and the department you’ve applied to, because they *will* ask you if you know anything about their background. Research also prepares you for the ‘suppose you don’t get the position you want. What back-up positions/departments do you have in mind?’ It makes them think you’re smart, prepared, all those other SDSB buzzwords business kids throw around because that’s their entire vocabulary.
This also reminds me: popular and competitive internship applications usually open in March (corporate internships schedule their tests mainly in March, such as Unilever, P&G, etc) and peak in late April, so you better start scouring the internet and applying uss waqt. Don’t wait for summer break to actually start, because the big and famous (and especially the paid ones) organizations are full by then.
Don’t just get internships based on the money/availability. Think about the skills you lack and need to develop (no clue about marketing? Apply for that position), the postgrad program you want to pursue and need to demonstrate expertise in (LUMS only offers a psych minor but you want to do a Masters in it? Work for an organization that deals with mental health, write about the issues, do fieldwork in it). Have variety in your internships. Don’t stick to just one field (only small start-ups or only multi-nationals or only not-for-profits). Show that you’ve learned everything and now, you’ve chosen this thing, that you bring great range to the table.
Start with an internship with a big and prestigious company, like Dawn. It gets you into more exclusive places because of the pull of the name, teaches you how corporate environments work, and it’s always easier to work your way from big to small, than the other way around. At smaller places, you can lead your own campaigns, get more personal recommendations, become memorable enough to have a job ready for you after graduation, etc.
Always refrigerate your bread (if you haven’t learned this already). Switch to multi-grain. It lasts a lot longer. Refrigerate your veggies and your fruits. Have one rule in mind when you’re buying anything perishable: will I use this in a week? If the answer isn’t a resounding yes, put it back. Do not overstock, thinking ‘oh, this will save me careem fare.’ No, it will go bad. Things might last during the winter but they’ll rot before your very eyes when it gets hot.
If you want to cut down on transport costs, switch to bykea, careem or uber bike (from my experience, uber bike is the cheapest out of the three). Apart from that, download department-store apps to help you grocery shop, like Carrefour Pakistan, Metro Online, Grocer App, etc. Have multiple grocery apps so you get the maximum amount of things in your list. If paying that 150/200 delivery charge kills you, there’s always the bike to your nearest department store instead (and a rickshaw wapsi mein because you can’t carry that much on a bike).
Tbh, fruit at a mandi and mart outside is much cheaper and fresher than Carrefour and LUMS Super Store fruit. It’s worth the once-a-week trip if you like your fruit to be nutritional and not just decorative.
I haven’t personally tried Airlift yet but it’s a bus service with fixed routes and times that are constantly expanding and covering more areas that you can try, if you’d like. I’ll update this list with my experiences when I’ve tried it.
Have all important conversations with your instructors over email, so you have proof later in case anything happens. Same applies to Financial Aid. Document your every interaction.
Get yourself a therapist. Do whatever it takes but get yourself a therapist and do everything possible to make sure you don’t miss the sessions. This is the time for mental illness to peak, especially personality disorders. Instead of resorting to harmful coping mechanisms that range from substance abuse to isolation, seek help. Post on LDF; there are a lot of alumni now practicing as psychologists who will inbox you or students who will post numbers of their own therapists, many of whom offer student discounts. Post anonymously on help@lums (a facebook group) if doing it publicly is an issue. This stress is only going to build from here and you need to learn how to start coping with it. And do not expect instant results. You understand more with every session; there’s no magical breakthrough that fixes everything. Healing is not linear. There will be plenty of relapses but therapy will teach you how to deal with them. Even if you aren’t crying everyday, get a therapist, like you’d go to the dentist even if you aren’t losing teeth. If you’ve lost hope, if your life seems meaningless, if your connections feel empty, if a person displaying shitty behavior reminds you of someone you knew a lifetime ago and you feel yourself withdraw to protect yourself, go see a therapist — and stick to it. I can’t stress this enough: it will be the best decision you will ever make. And like everything else, you won’t immediately click with a therapist. You’re allowed to switch to someone else (has every single doctor you’ve met understood what you needed?). You’e allowed to outgrow therapists and need someone new to understand your new set of priorities. But keep going to therapy (maybe not as often anymore but keep going). Think of it as improving yourself instead of fixing yourself; everyone has room for improvement.
Save paper. Make notes in your google docs during class. It makes it easily accessible and you can always press Ctrl+F to ‘find’ a word in any document, on any page, article, Word Document, etc. Press those keys simultaneously. A blank search bar will drop down from the URL bar. Type the phrase/word you’re looking for and it will highlight every instance of that appearance in the entire thing. That lets you go through your notes, skim read, etc. I thought it was a basic shortcut everyone knew but I learned this year that I was wrong.
Take Quantitative Research Methods (I’v heard pol and socio offer it). It looks great on your resume for both postgrad and job applications. Even if you suck at math, grit your teeth together and take it. Convert it to pass/fail and just get through it (but only if you think you’ll score above a C, because below is Fail that wastes valuable credit hours and impacts your GPA and transcript).
Junior year is when you should take your GRE — especially if you’re applying for Fulbright. That means you need to start preparing the summer right before your junior year. Clear out your schedule so you can use those 3 months to study like your life depends on it. Also use that time to compile a list of the postgrad unis you’re considering (if you are).
Use sophomore (and junior) year to see which teachers you gel with, to not only decide which teachers you’d like as future advisors but also the supervisor for your SPROJ. Please ask your seniors for their experiences, and don’t just pick a teacher based on their cult of personality, how much you worship them, how much other people rave about them or want them, how exclusive you think they are so it makes you feel super validated when they favor you, etc. Pick someone who understands what you want to do, who understands how you need to improve and what direction you need to be nudged in but still lets you explore ON YOUR OWN, and treats you like the soon-to-be adult you are. Pick a teacher who meets you halfway, not someone you want to emulate, become, someone you’re projecting your issues onto, or someone you need to bend over backwards for. This is one of the most important achievements of your undergrad. Do not allow room for regret.
Get a tutoring job. Start looking for them in August and have a couple of opportunities lined up in September (keep your options open because koi na koi masla hojata hai). It’s very important to have back-ups because a shit ton of people will try to make you work five days a week for 10k all the way in Johar Town, which is not the kind of money LUMS tutors make. These people exploit new tutors and their ignorance of the market rate. If someone says anything over 12k is too much, they’re trying to fleece you. Not only will the constant commute take up time and strength, it’s also be a drain on your budget because of the careem fare. Always state a figure and then tell the employer to either provide transport or give you a transport allowance (state it as an add-on). If the student is difficult to teach for whatever reason, point it out and ask for more money. Have different rates for the number of DAYS asked of you, not hours (because that will take up more careem fare — teaching two hours for five days is a lot more expensive than teaching three hours for three days). Open your careem app and check the fare from your place to theirs casually, and multiply it by the days and then double it (back and forth); that should be your careem conveyance. Feel free to explain to your employer that your subject doesn’t have many tutors, that the kid has no prior familiarity with the subject and is starting from scratch, that you’ve been a TA in your A-Levels or in LUMS, that you have your own notes, etc. // Most importantly, ask for half your pay every two weeks (a month has four weeks). Explain this system to your employer as ‘I need to cover my expenses too and can’t wait a whole month for the money. Also, it helps you because you don’t have to raise as much money at once.’ If they refuse to understand, it’s because they’re playing dumb and are hoping to cut corners with the regular ‘first of every month’ bullshit. It tides you over and helps prevent scams (employers often get a month’s work out of you before informing you that they can’t pay you because your rates are too high, and then they try to coerce you into lowering them or threaten to fire you). At max, allow 2–3 days ki delay. Stop showing up if they don’t give you the money, no matter how legitimate the excuse sounds, because people are not above exploiting personal/family tragedy to cut costs. It also makes sure you get paid for the exact amount of work you put in, because a lot of people try to withhold payment entirely or pay only half in December/May, when you taught for three weeks at the very least, just because you weren’t there for the whole month. Keep track in a calendar for both when the payment is due, and when you actually received it, so you don’t get tricked out of the money you’re owed. Do not expect honesty from anyone. //
Save up your job money and buy yourself a laptop if you don’t have one or yours is unpredictable and decrepit. I can promise you it’s an investment that’s a hundred times smarter than money blown on expensive places with bad food. Woh baad mein bhi hosakat hai. Go to Carrefour and look at their range. Ask broke and geeky CS majors for recommendation and tell them what you’re looking for.
Save up job money preemptively for emergency medical bills, because I can assure you: they will cost a kidney. You should always have a back-up fund for emergencies. LUMS Insurance is useless for anything except an overnight stay. Chughtai Medical is reliable, right at Lalik Jan Chowk and gives a 15% discount to LUMS students on tests if they show their ID card (and seeing as how much they cost, that’s a sizable dent). Chughtai also has a free consultant sitting there 10 am — 4 pm Monday to Thursday that you can go to, and they have a free medical camp (swing by and ask when) where a bunch of different doctors sit (dermas, gynes). Make sure you go as early as you can because a shit ton of people show up when they get off from work, and you’ll end up waiting a long time.
Save up for therapy expenses. Have that set aside as your do-not-touch money to make sure you don’t borrow from it and need to skip a session because you couldn’t replace it in time. Always save ahead so in case you’re temporarily out of work, you don’t have to skip therapy to cover your other expenses. Money is best spent in a structured way. Splurges are for special occasions only.
All tutor agencies should want max 50% of your first month’s pay and then leave you alone (if that’s the one you’ve found work through). If it’s higher than half and/or deducts something from your pay for eternity, do not opt for it, no matter how good the pay sounds. Do not comply if they ask you to lie about your grades to land the work. People in Lahore’s DHA have a whole facebook group and if you’re found out, they’ll probably post about you on that group and alert others. Additionally, if you have DHA relatives, don’t ask them to post for you and find you work. Do not reveal any association with them to employers because if they want to harangue you, they’ll threaten to not just shame you but your family as well (for the bad recommendation). If you have a nice family who’ll defend you, great. You don’t need to worry. If your family values their reputation more than helping you, this one’s for you. Pretend you know no one in Lahore.
An sproj (senior year project) per semester counts as a 200 level elective, so don’t bulk up on that many 200 level courses for your major and miss out on fulfilling other requirements (two 4-CH sproj sections basically count as 2 electives). Use your soph year to figure out if you want to minor in something because that’s a whole other nightmare (take the intro course if you’re curious; you can file it away for some other requirement if you reconsider). Try taking one 300 level course in the spring semester (at least) so you know what’s coming up ahead. Use this year to get done with any in-school and out-school requirements you have, because you’ll have to beg for 100-level courses as a junior/senior (and most of your requirements are intro courses open only to freshies/sophs). Take that MGMT and PLS and ILR course and put it behind you.
Most importantly, if you have DHL dreams, the cut-off is 3.59 AT THE END. Don’t freak out about your semester ka GPA. Use your soph year to play it smart and stabilize your GPA because junior year will be the toughest year in undergrad. Go to Eilya Mohsin and ask her what grades you need in how many courses to ensure you end up on the DHL by the end of soph year. Be frank about your ambitions.
If you have Student Council aspirations, start campaigning and building your base rn. Post more frequently on LDF, participate in your classes, take part in society activities. Let people know your face and your name. And don’t just capitalize on random issues to make your platform cool and relatable. People might vote you in abhi but trust me, if you don’t deliver, they will notice and lose faith in you. Apart from it being an ethically shitty and terrible thing to do, there are consequences for it.
Speaking of society activities, start being present in the societies you’ve joined. At the end of soph year, forms will be circulated and interviews conducted to appoint new president, executives, directors, etc., and you can only aim realistically to be selected for those positions if you’ve been working (or your current heads are from your A-Level college/city and think like a flock of sheep/pack of wolves and will pick you just because of an arbitrary similarity instead of actual merit).
Invest in a planner. Get a notebook split into weeks and days (I got mine from MINISO), and write down every deadline in advance (your essays, exams, presentations, sab). If that’s tedious and/or expensive (personally, I use a pencil because I’m a stingy bitch who’ll erase the dates until the paper rips), put a desk calendar on your, well, desk and write down everything in its tiny squares. If that isn’t your thing either (finding a desk calendar often proves impossible), put alerts on your calendar app. You can even customize them to start popping up in advance. I had a presentation due on 23rd April, so I set the notifications to start pinging two weeks prior, so I’d remember to get done with the research and to visit the sites in question. After that, I had a notification going off every day from 17th April, just to make sure I never forgot to prepare. Plan ahead of your procrastination, so you can engage in it anyway. Your brain is a circus animal and it’s your job to trick it.
If your essay is 3k words, as it will be often in soph year, PLEASE brainstorm, structure and discuss with your advisor at least a week in advance. Forcing yourself to adhere to that deadline, even when it’s not a graded part of your essay (like it usually is in W&C), will make sure your instructor can poke holes in your argument and prevent a situation that ends in you sitting in front of the computer six hours before the deadline, realizing your data doesn’t prove any of your claims. Please show them all the resources you’ve collected so they can go through them and point out potential problems and so you actually look up stuff and start refining your points, instead of running frantic Google searches at 10 pm. Force yourself to stick to this routine. Schedule an appointment with your instructor pehley se so you HAVE to show up or risk upsetting them and wasting their time. I don’t know about anyone else but most HSS instructors (sans econ) are wonderful and want you to come to them and talk to them about your ideas in their office hours. They’d love to tell you what’s doable and what isn’t, to tweak how you conduct research and prepare you for grad school. If you disagree with their methods, say it in a civil manner. If you’re anything like me, you’ll realize they saw a lot more nuance and balanced the contradictions better you could, at that age. You’ll realize they were right and you’ll regret snapping like that. Ofc, I’ve only experienced easily the most aware and conscientious instructors LUMS had during my time, so idk what other schools’ instructors are like. My advice is about history, socio, and anthro instructors (heart eyes only please).
A lot of difficult lessons were learned during soph year and at the end of it. Chief among them was that LUMS is unpredictable with its aid. You might not get any next year, even if you have it now. Don’t bank on signing a loan with them if you don’t get anything; they only provide that option to kids who’ve been accepted for aid. You might want to start looking into external sources of funding from now. Always have a back-up plan for everything and I mean everything. I’m compiling a list and will be posting it in a separate blog post soon.
Everyone will try to spook you about F4 for some reason. I just spent a year there. The lift is working 97% of the time (just one of the two though). It’s just that the storage room sucks ass. It’s just one regular-sized room so your boxes might have other boxes piled on top of them, so either don’t put anything fragile in there or leave the things with a trustworthy friend/relative when you leave at the year-end (OR take things back home in the winter and spring break). I lived on the top floor. The bathrooms were usually clean, the coolers usually working, the common room usually seemed full because of the mattresses being everywhere but it was mostly just my roommate and me. The only complaints I had was that there would be hundreds of mosquitoes that would dart into my room if I opened the door just to get in, and no amount of coil-burning or sprays could kill them. Keep your door closed after it gets dark, even if it means dying of heat (or you can die of dengue; it’s your funeral). When/if you get a heater, make sure it doubles as those cooler fan things so you can prevent yourself from experiencing the misery I did in spring semester.
When everyone is graduating, be on the lookout for posts selling heaters, fans, fridges, mattresses, etc., on LDF. You just need these things for two years max (hopefully). Get them secondhand and save money. They’re usually in good condition. Have no shame about wanting to see/test them before buying them.
Please buy cartons for packing for the summer break at least two months in advance (because stuff will come up and you will pakka end up delaying it by at least 3 weeks). Put them on top of the shelf drilled into the wall in your room. They won’t get in the way, and you won’t be running to H-block market when you should be studying for your finals (only to find out they’re out). Trust me, people will make a business out of your misery and desperation and charge you 150 for a piece of cardboard that should have cost 10. I’ve said this in my last post but I need to reiterate just to be safe (also, because I forgot to take my own advice and suffered).
And of course, if you have more suggestions, comment them or tweet me at twitter.com/khoonsurat_ so I can plug them in. Any and all feedback is appreciated. I’ll keep updating this list as I think of more things.