I couldn’t think of a better title for this blog post apart from maybe only Live Your Life. But it’s not going to be tips for you to follow, no. It sums up my attitude and feelings towards my degree and my life choices. No, I’m not a twenty-something student, I’m well over thirty and yes, I’m only just finishing my degree. Procrastinating, as life got in the way.
I started Uni soon after the Y2K-nothing-really-happened scare, not that that had any impact on my decisions or studies. And I was a very good student, had great average, was always in attendance, never taking a year off, you name it. So where did it all go wrong?
In my final year I got a scholarship to go and finish my dissertation (say 50 pages on a topic) in Germany. This was my first time away from home, living on my own (well in student halls) and experiencing the freedom, away from the family. And I got distracted, not by partying (alone), but by other courses. I finished English for Business and French classes and lost interest in pursuing my German degree. And returned home without one, but with a head full of travel plans. And travelling requires money. So, being industrial, I got myself a job teaching English as a maternity cover. A few months later I was on a plane to Australia (no degree in my pocket).
Australia was great and I was 24 years old. Why would I want to go home, finish the degree and start adulting if I could continue with a more interesting and adventurous lifestyle? To pursue my dream, I got myself a job working in a school in UK (all part of Comenius, which is funded by the EU!). I spent a truly fantastic year in the north of England, making new friends and gaining experience no degree could ever provide.
UK was followed by a road trip around the USA, Mexico, more USA and UK and Ireland and Scotland and I could go on and on all the while I worked a few teaching jobs, which gave me time to travel.
In 2011 I finished my English degree (about 5 years after I should have) and permanently moved to London. My life at this stage was a roller-coaster. It was me being an adult (without my German degree). Finding a job, paying rent and supporting myself while trying to find my feet in a foreign country where I didn’t really know anyone. And I did it. I got a good job (after a while struggling), met the most wonderful man (who’s still by my side supporting all my crazy decisions 5 years down the line) and we moved into our very own flat.
But in the eyes of my parents all of the achievements faded because I don’t have my German degree. And they nagged and nagged (even from miles and miles away). Nothing I did, nothing I said was good enough. And while I know they have my best interest at heart, I am an adult who should be allowed to make her own decisions on her own terms. To be honest, the constant reminders had exactly the opposite effect, the more they talked, the more determined I was, not to do it. Call me stubborn and silly if you wish, but for me the fact that I created a good life for myself should be acknowledged rather than diminished.
And now it’s 2016, 10 years after I should have graduated. It’s also the last few months in which I’ll still be allowed to graduate from my Uni, before those doors are closed for ever. And I’ll let you in on a little secret. I finished writing my German dissertation, all the numerous pages filled with my and other people’s views on what we perceive as foreign. It’s quite fitting seeing UK is deciding whether we want to stay in the EU or not today.
My degree is now finished, I’ll have to present it before it’s official, but the bulk of the deed is done. And my parents don’t even know. I placed a family wide ban on talking about it. If I have learnt anything in the last 10 years, it is that I do things for myself (not in a selfish way), but because I want to and not because somebody else wants me to. My achievements make me happy and proud and if others don’t feel the same, I’ll say this “It’s my life to do with as I please.” Bon Jovi had a point in saying:
It’s my life
It’s now or never
I ain’t gonna live forever
I just want to live while I’m alive
So, I only have two things to say:
- Don’t let anyone dictate how you should live your life.
- Graduate in time, because the longer you leave it, the more difficult it gets (trust me I was there).
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