A Masters. It sounds pretty scary. It’s always sounded a bit scary to me. I’m doing one now and it still seems a lot as a concept. I had never thought myself capable of it really. I did struggle a lot at times during my undergrad but here I am and I’m surviving. Not just surviving but dare I say it; I’m finally getting into the swing of it as it were. So that’s what this blog is going to be on, my decision to do my masters, how I feel about it now and a bit on what it’s been like to hang back in Exeter as the majority of my friends made the move away and onto real life adult jobs.
So here comes the brutal honesty. I applied for a Masters because of pressure from my parents to try, the notification of a scholarship and my VISA application. Caught your attention there didn’t I? How does a Visa application fit there? Well in order to have my incredible summer in the States last year, I had to show proof of my intent to return to the UK afterwards. As a final year undergraduate with no concrete life plans post-graduation I didn’t have this. An application for a masters was the solution to my problems… it would stop my parents from asking why I wasn’t doing one (I honestly wasn’t sure if I would get on one to be honest) and it showed to the embassy that I did intend to come back to the UK. Not quite what you expected as a reason to continue my education right?
Well as we can all tell, I got accepted to do the Masters of Research in Politics at Exeter. Then came the funding issue. I hadn’t really thought my plan through in appeasing my parents by applying for the masters. I had thought it would stop there. HA. “If you got the masters, you might as well just try and get the funding.” So I applied for the funding.
I got the funding.
Don’t get me wrong; I was over the moon to get it. However, reasons to not do the masters were dwindling and reasons for were adding up. I had the funding, I had the grades, it was just a year, it would help me so much in life (this is yet to be proved but we’ll see when I’m done… Hello job market) and it was a plan of what to do next and I didn’t have any other real plans. Read that as any plans all together.
The decision was made. I was going back to Exeter and attempting to complete a Masters.
Flash forward a few months. Going back to Exeter after my friends have flown the nest is becoming a reality. Sure, I have my friends that did their year abroad but in my mind it’s not quite the same. I don’t have the usual base I’ve become so used to having. I begin to panic. Then I end up in a studio. I’m not even going to try and explain the stress I had trying to find a place to live whilst travelling around California. I’ll paint a small picture for you: a mini crying hissing fit as I try to pack in a gorgeous AirBnB in Monterey Bay with a boy just trying to help and me just insisting on more tears and no solution in sight. Not a pretty picture.
A studio isn’t too bad. I never have to put trousers on to go to the kitchen; I don’t have anyone else’s washing up around, I never have to awkwardly avoid someone in my flat. However, the chances of becoming a social recluse sky rocket. I’m a very social person but last term I found myself just alone in my studio without human contact for more days than I would like to admit. By being in a studio rather than a communal living area, you really have to make the effort to be the social butterfly you know you can be. Safe to say it took me a while to spread my social wings which definitely didn’t help my adjustment to postgrad. It’s quite the shock to the system after living in a house and being able to have human contact whenever you want and being at camp where you can’t escape human contact!
Postgrad socialising is extremely different to undergraduate. Now obviously I knew the nights out would slow down but further than this, the ability to make friends in tutorials. I think my course may be slightly different as I am a part of several modules with a wide range of courses involved but the friendly aspect just doesn’t seem to be there. Sure there is the pleasant hello nod every now and them but that’s it. Students don’t seem to have the expectation of making new friends in the first few weeks of classes. I guess this comes from the age difference. A large amount of my classes have older students, they already have their lives set in Exeter so I guess the need to make new class friends isn’t as strong. This has been hard for me though. Thankfully I was lucky enough in one module to attach myself to two people who haven’t managed to shake me yet but it really has been a change from undergraduate. I recently went to an event put on my the PostGrad society too which was great fun. A different style of social to that of undergrad but I had just as much fun. It’s a shame I went to my first event so late in the term.
I’ll be honest it has taken me a while to settle into the masters course. For a long time I held resentment that I was left in Exeter whilst most of my friends had moved to London to take on new exciting challenges. I wasn’t noting how impressive my own challenge was. I did the classic teen thing and blamed a lot of it on my parents for making me do the applications but I am happy I’m here now. (
Soz mum and dad for being a moody 21 year old acting like a bratty 15 year old) It has been tough and the work is hard but everyone needs to take on challenges in order to grow. I don’t think I was ready for real world yet and its taken me time to see that but now I do. I’ve also quite enjoyed this year. My course is directed toward teaching me research skills, which give me a better standing whilst I try and get a job I feel. I also adore my dissertation topic so that’s something.
Life decisions are tough. Being left behind whilst you watch your friends achieve great things is tough. You just have to remember to chose what is right for you and the people who love you will push you in directions that make you better the majority of the time. Don’t forget your achievements are impressive too. Don’t get lost in wishing you’d picked another path, I did that far too much last term, but enjoy the path you’re on. After all ‘everything happens for a reason’…