I’ve put off writing this for *so* long.
I didn’t want to admit that my university experience was
finally over. But this Tuesday just gone, I graduated for the second time. I’m no longer a student.
For those of you who don’t know, I studied my undergrad degree in English Literature at Liverpool John Moores University. It felt right. I loved what I was studying, even if I found it hard, or if some of the books were boring. I was happy.
I didn’t want my education to end. I’m someone who likes to learn; likes to cultivate the mind. I knew I wanted to do a Master of Arts since second year. I knew I wanted to do it in something I loved, something I was passionate about, and that was Victorian Literature. So, I sent an application off to the University of Liverpool, who have a specific pathway in Vic Lit. I got accepted and I started my Masters in September 2018.
I knew it would be hard. I knew it would be mostly independent work. But I didn’t know just how hard it would be. You got no help. Tutors would say “you need to write at a higher level if you want to pass this degree”, but they wouldn’t tell you how to write at a higher level. I still don’t know. They expected some much from you and just left you in the dark.
I found it so hard. One of my teachers even laughed with joy at the prospect of making me cry over email, telling me that I’m not cut out for this degree if I don’t start “writing at a higher, more intellectual level”. He actually laughed and said “OH! I haven’t made a student cry in years!”. I knew, from that moment, I was on my own.
I persevered￼ because I love Victorian Literature. I had the opportunity, and the grades, to study it at a higher level; to learn from people specialised in that area. I wasn’t going to give in. I researched like hell. I re-wrote my papers again and again. I spent morning to evening working, whilst balancing a social life, work and my blog. My relationship at the time was crumbling; the pressure from that was all-consuming and I was finding it really hard to cope with. I let it affect me for three months. My work suffered.
But I kept going.
I’m not particularly happy with my grade. I mean, it’s a good grade. But when you compare it to my undergrad, you can see just how hard it was for me to adapt. I lost my passion and love for reading Vic Lit along the way; I’m still finding it hard to pick up a Victorian book now and it’s been three months since I handed in my last assignment.
My Masters was incredibly difficult. It really tested me. I felt like I had no help from my tutors. I mean, yes, I could have gone to them and talked it through, but I felt like I couldn’t. Would I be met with more sadistic, laughing tutors? There were a couple of tutors who I grew close with, but that came a lil too late. I felt alone most of the time.
I couldn’t help but compare myself to my friends, who all seemed to be doing better than me. Was that because they all went to redbrick unis and I didn’t? Were they just, you know, smart, whereas I was just dumb? Not cut out for it? A amateur? A failure?
My pernicious anemia got so bad in the third semester that I couldn’t move from my bed for a week. I had to force myself out of bed, to muster the tiniest bit of energy to put make up on and go to work. It was the first time that my condition actually hindered me in some way. Of course, the uni took this into account, but I felt like I was somehow cheating?
Despite the overwhelming negativity I had towards my degree, I still *really* enjoyed it. At the end of the day, I was studying something I loved. I was introduced to so many new authors, books, genres, themes and social issues. I learnt how the Victorians were inspired by the Romantics, how the Victorians were so versatile in their content, and how the twentieth century were inspired by the Victorians.
I loved what I was learning about. I loved what I was writing about. Regardless of how hard I found it. It was worth it in the end.
I now hold a Master of Arts degree in English Literature (Victorian Literature), as my official transcript says. A whole year of my life I spent on this degree. It was difficult at times. I was happy. I was sad. I laughed and I cried. And I wouldn’t change it. I just wish I had the courage to ask for help and direction; it might have changed my overall experience.
That’s my education done for now. I’m very tempted to do a PhD, but I’d have to think of a niche topic in Victorian Literature that hasn’t been touched upon before, and I would have to save up a bit. One day, though. Maybe when I’m more emotionally stable.
I’m sad it’s over.
Are you in education? What are you learning? Are you enjoying? Need to rant a lil? Come and talk to me about it!
Thanks for reading, Lauren X