Being Asian and choosing a Creative Degree

In the Asian community, being well educated and having a degree seems to be just as important (or even more so), as making a round roti. If you’re not getting straight A’s then what else does your family have to brag about? Let’s face it, not all of us are blessed with a genius mind (just good looks right?), all jokes aside, this can put a mountain of pressure on a young person’s shoulders.

Intelligence isn’t measured on what subjects you choose to study or where your skills and strengths lie. There’s no shame in being more inspired by Van Gough than Einstein, after all everyone is unique. Being cultured and creative is just as important as being able to structure an essay and recite the periodic table. So why do so many Asians base your intelligible capabilities on what degree you choose to study?

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The Asian Dream

Ok so let’s talk about the ‘Asian Dream’; a doctor, lawyer, accountant – take your pick. It seems these are the only types of subjects that are impressive and represent you as ‘clever’. These fields of degrees are also desirable in a prospective partner, not to you perhaps, but certainly to your parents and grandparents.

Many parents push their children to consider a science or math related degree, because we as Asians have this idea that this is the only way you can get a well-paid job and be financially stable in the future. This is one of the reasons why there is a lack of ethnic minorities in the creative industry.

Of course being able to earn a living and cover your day-to-day costs is essential, but you can do this from many career paths, and of which you will actually enjoy!

Biting the Bullet 

Much to your parents’ dismay, you choose to study a creative degree, because that’s what interests you, inspires you, and makes you happy. No one wants to waste 3 vital years of their life working their arse off for something they don’t really want, and then to end up in a dead-end job, bored and demotivated.

You’ll of course get those disapproving and demeaning comments. You’ll be seen as less knowledgeable than your cousin who is studying medicine, but do this for you, not for your family or anyone else. You’ll get bombarded with questions such as “but what job will you have after?”, “how much will that pay?”, “so you’re just going to draw for three years?”…*and breathe*.

I myself, studied a creative degree. I’ve always been ‘artsy’ and followed my artistic strengths through to my GCSE’s, A-Levels and degree. I once got told my subjects were “fluffy” like they were weightless and unsubstantial. I knew at that moment my degree would be seen as second-rate and inadequate when compared to someone who has a more academic degree.

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Advice

You need to be 100% sure this is the route you want to explore. It can be hard as a young person coming out of sixth form or college, to know exactly what you want to do. I have been there myself, and the best thing I ever did was get some work experience before applying to University.

If you’re interested in Media Studies for example and think this is what you want to study as a degree, speak to your school or college’s advice service and see if they can arrange work experience for you in that field. Use all the resources you have, your teachers, peers, family, even the Internet. If after the work experience, you’re still certain this is what you want, then do it! No exceptions and no excuses.

Supportive parents and family would help you considerably along this journey, but remember you still have your friends, and many other young Asians going through exactly what you are, so never feel alone. University is a stepping stone to your future career, for this reason make sure it’s something that you love.

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If you want further advice, or just want to vent – please email us! hello@britishbindi.com

A helpful resource for creative graduates who are of ethnic minority: www.creativeaccess.org.uk

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8 thoughts on “Being Asian and choosing a Creative Degree

  1. Just come across your blog and love it. I remember my mum telling me I wouldn’t get a job if I did art A level. I’m sure I would have been ok. After uni I went straight into editorial, the music industry and then fashion. Oh then some DJing. Luckily my mum was supportive as she knew how hard I worked.
    My first 3 years of post uni career life were super creative and really helped me build my confidence which is now essential for my more corporate career! Luckily the creative side is still happy and alive through my blog Lucky Things. I’ll be encouraging my British Asian daughters to do something creative too.

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    1. Hi Sunita, thank you so much for the positive feedback! It’s always helpful to have supportive parents so you are very lucky your mother supported your creative career choices. Your first few years after university certainly sound interesting and fun!
      Young British Asians should be encouraged to venture into the arts and creative industry if that’s where their talents lie. Of course there is nothing wrong with being more academic, but young people in general should be encouraged to make their own choices, it’s a great way to infuse wisdom and become more independent.
      That’s brilliant that you have still kept your creative side alive through your blog, we will be sure to follow and have a read! Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment, have a lovely day!

      British Bindi

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      1. Hello British Bindi crew. Nice to hear from you. Fingers crossed generations are changing and parents are giving their children more choices about what to do for work and what to pursue for their careers.
        I love your blog but would love to know more about the creative brains and people behind British Bindi. Have you any plans to add more info to your About page. Or do you prefer to be anonymous? Hope you’ve all had a good day. Enjoy Lucky Things blog. Sunita.

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      2. Hi Sunita, generations are definitely changing. The whole British Bindi crew chose to study creative degrees and all of our parents were nothing but supportive, and we will be the same with our children in the future!

        This is a fairly new venture for us all, but hopefully in the near future we can reveal more about ourselves. We are four best friends 23-24 years old, just getting our full-time careers started and thought it would be great to start a blog on the side to voice our opinions on our British Asian culture, as there doesn’t seem to be any similar blogs out there!

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      3. That’s great British Bindi crew. All the best with your blog. I was your age when I was busy with the world of media. Enjoy exploring lucky things in your careers. Keep in touch sunita@luckythings.co.uk Looking forward to reading your posts. Hope British Bindi is still around by the time my two girls grow up!

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      4. Thank you! All the best with Lucky Things, the idea behind it is lovely! We will definitely be keeping in touch. Awh that’s very sweet, we hope your girls get the opportunity to read our blog also! X

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  2. Also I was very fortunate as when I worked in fashion and the music industry I worked in the same realms as some supportive and successful Brit-Asian creatives like stylists, make up artists, photographers, journalists and DJs like Bobby Friction and Nihal. Me and the girls would always compare stories of what our parents thought about us being in the media world. I ended up doing my BA dissertation about Brit-Asian girls who were into their music so much it influenced their careers. These days our kids will be even more influenced by social media and music. X

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    1. That sounds amazing! You don’t hear of many British Asians in the music or fashion industry, so it’s brilliant that you got the opportunity to venture into that! There are so many possibilities when you have the support of others, and also networking is key to building partnerships.

      Your dissertation sounds like an interesting read, perhaps you could share snippets on your blog if you haven’t already!

      The future generations certainly will be more influenced by social media and music, I can imagine there will be more and more British Asians venturing into the arts / creative industry, which is something we look forward to witnessing!

      J x

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