In the last year, I’ve moved five times, lived in two countries, travelled around, had two jobs - and got a Master’s degree!
While I am originally from the Czech Republic, this story started in Shanghai. I ended up in China just for a gap year after finishing uni in Denmark, but then I decided to stay there for another year. I was teaching English and enjoying my life with a decent salary and a new boyfriend. Why leave? I never planned to be a teacher, but I was always inclined to Training and Development in the corporate sector – not that different in the end. So I decided to take an online MSc in Psychology that would benefit my teaching and also allow me to continue later study towards Occupational Psychology degree.
Oh boy! Studying online is not easy. I was studying on the metro going to work, on the train and plane when travelling, in Starbucks around Seattle or the beach in Barcelona. Because I was working full-time in Shanghai, I had to fit my university work in wherever possible. As they say, you can study anywhere anytime, and that’s exactly what I did. I was trying to use any time I could to focus on my studies, and yet I was always behind on my reading. All other things had to go aside - no time for friends, gym or parties. My boyfriend almost learnt to cook and that’s quite something.
I would say the most challenging situation was just before Christmas, when my boyfriend’s job contract finished and so did his visa in China. I was left alone, spending my holidays moving from our apartment to a hotel, finding a storage and panicking about my relationship. I’ve lived abroad long enough not to feel homesick, but having Christmas dinner alone in IKEA, and instant noodles in bed on New Year’s, this was definitely my lowest point. Needless to mention my university deadlines coming up. I think, sometimes I used to study just to escape from my “real” life, but also thanks to the support from my, then online, boyfriend.
While I was moving from one hotel to another to afford my living, my boyfriend was processing his new work visa with a new company. It was a long process! Anyone who knows Chinese bureaucracy can imagine. It was in April that we decided to give up waiting and I had to leave my job, say goodbye to the skyscraper city and fly to Spain to follow my heart. It was amazing to be back together but being in a beach house, both unemployed, brought other troubles. So I was writing job applications during the day and my dissertation at night. When my parents were asking me how I liked Spain, I had nothing to say as I didn’t leave the house for weeks.
To summarise - as you can probably guess by now - studying online while working and having a personal life is tough. In the end, I managed to submit all my assignments on time and pass, but it was one year of hard work and everyday stress. If you ever think studying online is easy, trust me, my Instagram pictures from the pool don’t exactly reflect the reality.
If you want to succeed studying online I think you need 3 things:
- Strong motivation and a will to persist
- Great time management skills
- Social support to keep you up