What I’ve learnt from postgraduate study - Scot Hornby

Wednesday 09-08-2017 - 13:35
Scot 1

I wrote a piece a while back for The Union about the comparison between being a postgrad to being an undergrad — the differences, the pros, the cons, the ups the downs, the hangovers, to the night’s in watching Golden Girls.

But what have I learnt in this past year? I’ve learnt many things about my chosen topic of study but here are some other things I’ve learnt or wish I’d known before.

Firstly – balance. I wish I had thought about, and planned ahead more when it comes to balancing life. I’m generally not the best multi-tasker, preferring to start and finish something then move on. Previously, I went to work Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 (what a way to make a living) and left work at the door on the way out. The weekend was to enjoy my relationship, friends, and trying to see how drunk I could get before the last train home. I had a routine and structure. My favourite thing in life is a well-planned routine. Therefore suddenly plunging myself into this chaos of juggling 2 part-time jobs, a Masters course, a social life, my family, and a relationship has quite physically given me heart palpitations and has resulted in a person who is often running late.  This coming from someone who would be 2 hours early to their own funeral - it has not been easy for me. Punctuality is important.

Secondly, I wish I had perhaps done more research into what an MA involves and the dedication needed. Yes, I admit it, I got excited by Government Funded Post Graduate Loans (Dollar Emoji) and just ran with the idea, but I should have been more mentally focused. I know what I’m capable of and I know I have talent (Painting Nails Emoji) but I can be lazy. (It took me a long time to just admit that but acceptance is the first step honey.) I wouldn’t say I’m not driven, but I’m not exactly living in the fast lane either. I like the middle lane. (so many car and road analogies happening). Therefore, I wasn’t quite prepared for the self-discipline involved.  That was something I had to learn pretty fast.

On a more personal note I wasn’t prepared for my personal life having such a big impact on my studies. Before starting my MA I had worked for a number of years in Student Advice and was a Senior Caseworker at a Student’s Union in London. Therefore I had seen and heard some of the saddest stories students had faced during their time studying, and I had seen the impact it could have on their academic life. I had all the tools and knowledge to know how to help them get back on track. However even with this experience behind me I could never fully relate to this until this year.

As you may know in May this year there was a terrorist attack at the Manchester arena. I lost a friend that day. A beautiful, inspiring hilarious friend who would, without a doubt, have gone on to achieve amazing things. The shock and confusion of such a thing happening really took the wind out my sails and had such an unexpected far-reaching impact.  Up until that point I felt sure in my practice and felt like what I was doing was right.  Yet afterwards I found my whole mindset had shifted. How I viewed the world had changed. It has altered me permanently. What I’m working on now is finding my way of working with this new me, this new mind and approach. That’s been tough, and it’s work in progress but the show must go on.

I’d like to take this moment to just thank all the staff I spoke to around that time for their support that is still ongoing.  I couldn’t be more thankful to MMU for the support I’ve received, all without question or hesitation. 

Now you might be thinking “this article is called ‘what I wish I’d known then’ – he could never have anticipated that” and you’re right. No one could anticipate such an event, but the point I’m trying to make is be prepared for the unexpected. You might sail through this next stage of your life, or it may be a bumpy road, but just roll with it. If you hit an obstacle, use the tools around you to get around it. Access the support, accept those extensions and don’t feel defeated. It’s OK to not be OK.

Lastly I’ve learnt, on the cusp of turning 30, I’m old beyond my years. Without ever realising it and naively thinking I was still cool and on trend the MMU student body have informed me I have no idea about current music, fashion has passed me by, I’ve gained 2 stone and can barely stay out past 1am. I have to eat before the night out, not after, I don’t know what BAE means, and apparently no one drinks Tia Maria anymore. 

And you know what? I’m OK with that. 


You can read Scot's first blog post here

Read about other students' experiences here. 




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