For those of us who love studying enough to pursue postgraduate qualifications, returning to university can bring some unexpected shocks.
Having graduated in 2017, I spent a year out in the workforce before returning to study part-time in 2019, and now I am back studying full-time toward a masters degree in 2020.
While applying for the Master of Global Development, I had the impression that I would return to university and everything would resume where it left off in 2017.
So far, I have found that everything still feels the same, yet somehow, everything is different. My friends have long since moved on from the university, I am studying something new and even the structure of the campus has changed and my old secret study spot no longer exists.
The biggest change of all, of course, comes from me. Being three years older than I was at the time of graduation and having experienced working in the ‘real world’, dealing with very adult problems and facing the struggles that come along with a growing career; my needs, motivations, and expectations have changed.
During your undergraduate degree, you’re on a path with the goal of finding a job. When I was offered a position before finishing my undergraduate degree, I thought that I had reached the end of the path. At the time I had no idea that it was just the beginning.
You learn so much about your goals, your motivations and what brings you meaning when you step into the workforce for the first time. To dedicate a minimum of eight hours a day, five days a week to a position is a massive commitment that quickly teaches you the importance of finding purpose in the work you do. All of this leads to a new appreciation for the many different lifestyles university offers and the knowledge that your studies don’t need to be rushed but rather enjoyed.
While so many things are different, much remains the same. I still feel a sense of warmth and excitement as I step onto campus. Joy, when learning something new and the promise of a new adventure with each waking day.
If there is one piece of advice I can pass on to fellow students (of all ages and stages) it is to see studying as a gift, because how often in your life do you get to experience time dedicated to simply learning something that you’re truly passionate about?