What’s it like to be a postgraduate?
In all honesty, if I had to sum up being a postgraduate in one word, it would be amazing.
But before I go into that, here’s a little bit more about me. I graduated from my undergrad in 2012 and moved to New York three weeks later. I stayed there until my visa ran out and then came back to England. Then, I got a job in hotel management, but I never felt fulfilled. It wasn’t challenging enough. I then decided to join the police, thinking I would be able to use my brain more; but it was a difficult culture for me to be in. So, I was left wondering what I should do with my life next.
I was 29 years old and had two careers under my belt. But I felt I needed more; I needed to stretch my mind. I started to google and found the most amazing postgraduate course. Even better, it was only down the road in York!
I went to a postgraduate open day and I fell in love. I was applying to other universities as I knew that York might be a tough one to get into. But I had tunnel-vision for York and this course: International Human Rights Law and Practice. I will say now, my background in academia is not law. I met one of the people who made the course (Ioana Cismas) and she gave a mini lecture as a taster. After that, I just knew then I had to get into York.
The start of my postgraduate journey
I’d been out of education for seven years (minus a few policing qualifications), but was so eager to start. When my place had been accepted, I was delighted. I decided to commute from Whitby as I was pretty much over student living. However, I did decide to spend my lecture days on campus making the most of the library and other facilities. I could arrange group work and adviser meetings on those days too.
A lot of my friends asked me if I was nervous about going back into education:
1) as a mature student
2) because I’d had so long out.
My answer was pretty simple: no, I wasn’t. I was excited and I had every right to be.
York Law School
York Law School is fantastic and full of caring and supportive people. There have been a few lows (nothing is ever perfect), but in the grand scheme of high versus low, they weren’t that bad. At times, due to my age and commuting, I felt a little left out. But then I had to remind myself; it was my choice to commute.
I was part of a cohort of about 20 (12 more than my undergraduate degree) so I made effort to chat and hang around with others between classes on longer days. I recently found out (I am new to Facebook) that there is a postgraduate mature students group! Most universities do their best-selling pitch when it comes to open days, but York continues to amaze me every week. They are so student focused academically and socially. There is also so much mental health support which is great.
The other cohort for MA Applied Human Rights appeared to have a good mix of ages which I found refreshing to see. One of the big perks to postgraduate degrees is the people you meet. They will blow your mind. For me, especially coming from a small town, these people were extraordinary and had wonderful backgrounds.
For my course in particular, we met with Human Rights Defenders and had the chance to speak to someone face to face who had been through the stuff we were reading in textbooks. It made it so real, but it also enriched my study.
If you are thinking about York – do it!
If York wasn’t on your radar – I hope it is now.
P.S. Did I mention I got to go to Malaysia for fieldwork? It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and York has plenty of those to offer.