Transformations: Returning to Academia

This Tuesday I will embark on my second semester at the University of Edinburgh.  Between undergraduate and postgraduate I had an 8 year break in the “real world” where I worked in corporate and non-profit worlds.  Some choose to go into postgraduate studies immediately after undergraduate studies.  At that time in my life, I didn’t feel postgraduate school was necessary for the direction I wanted to take my career, but flash forward years later and I had discovered that the direction my 22-year-old self wanted was not at all what my 30-year-old self wanted.  My 22-year-old self had never even visited San Francisco, and now my 30-year-old self can look back on 8 years years in a city that transformed me.  I am now ready and going through a new transformation (I’m like a very mundane Dr.Who).  Although my life had started to switch gradually over time to a new direction, I recognized that in order to fulfil this metamorphosis, I required more education.  So here I am.  Back at school to change the course of my life for the better.

Sunset at Calton Hill. Doesn't hurt to have this background while going through a 'transformation'

Sunset at Calton Hill. Doesn’t hurt to have this background while going through a ‘transformation’

My greatest joy in being back at school is the ability to just learn again — something you would have never heard from my 22-year-old self, but it does truly feel like a luxury now.  Instead of “office life” where I was being charged with having all of the answers immediately and being pulled in a million directions in a world within which email and video chatting has accelerated the pace of expectancy of those answers, I now spend hours reading about new topics and asking questions about them without concern of judgement of ignorance.  Don’t get me wrong — school is extremely hard work, but you spend your time learning about other people’s opinions, learnings, and findings in a topic you care about.  You form your own thought and find yourself becoming a burgeoning expert and master…with much to learn yet.  You are growing at a rapid pace here at school and balancing the expression of your own thinking while absorbing the lessons from seasoned people in the field.  This push-pull is exciting, challenging, and fulfilling.  I suppose I am finding a confidence to follow my own path while growing my humility and appreciation for those that have trodden this path before me.

One more semester and a dissertation to go before I return to the world of employment. I’ll be ready for it when it arrives and will be happy for the opportunity to apply my education (although I could do without the 8:30am meetings…. no-one wants to see me before a first cup of coffee has kicked in), but for now I am eternally grateful that I was given this opportunity to break, redirect, and grow.  I am enjoying this transformation and hope many more are to come.

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About Celina Plaza

MSc Environment, Culture, & Society. Seeking solutions to address climate change: celinaplaza.org
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