^ Basically how I feel right now when it comes to think about the future 😂
But on a more serious note, I feel like I need to have a bit of a ramble about my indecision over what to do in the future and more specifically at uni. For a while now I’ve had my mind set on studying geography and history joint honours at university, because I enjoy both of these subjects so it seemed sensible to carry on with my academic journey down that route. So naturally I had been doing my research and had narrowed it down to five university that do that degree and we’re located in areas I’d be happy to live in, booked open days to go and visit them in the summer and was content with the fact that for once in my life I’d actually managed to make a decision. On Tuesday, the college took us to a UCAS convention at a local-ish uni (I say local but it took like an hour and a half to get there…in a coach that had a hornet/giant wasp thing buzzing around…FUN) where there were representatives from nearly 200 university from around the UK for us to talk to about the degrees they offered. As I’d already been researching universities beforehand, I knew (or thought I did) what degree I was interested in and knew what universities I was considering, so headed straight over to those and found out more info about their geography and history joint degrees, picked up a prospectus and various freebies and then went off with my friends whilst they looked at other unis and courses. I came back from the UCAS convention feeling quite happy with myself as I had had a good chat with some of the unis I was interested in and felt like my future was actually planned and in order.
However, due to the fact that some of the unis I’d previously picked out no longer offered geography and history, yesterday my dad said he wanted to sit down with me and research other unis that were perhaps a bit far away for me to have considered at first that did the degree I was interested in, but dads being dads, I started googling and researching waiting for him to come and help and he went off and did some gardening for ages so once I’d exhausted what I was originally researching, I started looking at other degrees just out of interest. Which was – hence this post – a fatal error. Or was it? I don’t even know 😂
Basically, I started questioning why I wanted to study history and geography in the first place, which isn’t an unusual thing to be asking myself because when I write my personal statement to apply to unis I’ll have to explain to the unis why I want to study that course. However when I thought about it, I realised I didn’t actually know why I had my mind set on studying that. I mean yes, I do enjoy geography and history and the overview and understanding of the world they give me, but am I really passionate about it? Is it something I’d want to work ridiculously hard for for the next three years? Do I even want a career to do with geography and history?
The truth is, I may be enthusiastic about geography and history – I’d defend their importance in the education system to the ends of the earth if I could, because I think it’s really important to have an understanding about the wider world and the past world which allowed us to be and live the way we do today, but having enthusiasm for a subject is different from being passionate about it. Passion is more of a feeling, a thrill and a thirst to learn more about that particular thing, and if I’m being honest with myself, I’m not really passionate about history or geography. I do work hard, I do extra work and background reading when I have time, but that’s just because my teachers advise me to do it. I’d work hard at anything, even if I hated it, I think before I’d been a bit oblivious to that because I just assumed because I worked so hard at those subjects, I must really really love them. But then I thought back to my GCSEs and realised that although I worked extremely hard for each subject, I didn’t like everything or enjoy everything – science didn’t interest me, neither did maths or English – so came to the realisation yesterday that it’s more the desire to do well that drives me to work hard at history and geography, not my passion for them.
So then I though, what’s the point of studying those subjects at university when I’m not really passionate about them? It would just be illogical, I mean I enjoy history and geography now but I don’t think studying them in intense detail would interest me at all, I think by the end of a levels I might have reached my limit with them. Also, although I’d had it set in my head that I wanted to study geography and history, I had absolutely no idea where that would lead me as a career or what I even wanted to do as a career. Hence I changed my mind. Again. For like the 50 billionth time.
The other subject I am studying at a level is French. Before yesterday, I’d never considered seriously studying French after college. I mean, I knew I didn’t want to gradually lose my French skills after college so I didn’t want to finish it completely, but was just going to carry it on in my spare time at uni or choose a language module if the course allowed it. Then yesterday, for some unknown reason, I randomly googled language degrees and found one called European Studies (or varients of depending on which uni it is) where you basically study one or two European languages, cultural and social ideas within that country as well as European politics and history and honestly, it was like a light bulb was switched on in my head.
If you didn’t know, last year I studied government and politics at school and it was unexpectedly thrilling. I loved learning about the way the government and the UK’s political system worked because it felt like I was learning something useful about the mysterious world of law-making and governance and political stuff, I almost carried on the subject at college but it wasn’t possible because of different exam boards so I would have had to retaken the year which would have been a bit pointless considering I did well in the exams. Since stopping politics, it’s still been in the back of my mind – I mean how couldn’t it have been with Brexit and Trump in the news every other day – but as with French, I hadn’t given it much serious thought, mainly because I didn’t know where it would lead me other than becoming a politician which wasn’t what I wanted. But then, the European Studies course just sounds so fascinating! We studied one module about the workings of the EU last year and it was my favourite by far, so I started thinking about maybe a career working for the EU – maybe as like a political advisor or the EU equivalent of the civil services (I’m not really sure if it would be possible now the UK is in the process of leaving the EU but who knows) be wise if there’s one thing I do feel strongly that I want to do with my life is to make a difference to the lives of others,so maybe this is the way to do it?
The more I’ve been contemplating this degree, the more I’ve realised that maybe French – or languages in general – is my passion. I mean, something must have made me decide to take French a level after 5 years of learning it (badly) in school with classes full of people who weren’t even interested in French and teachers who didn’t actually teach us properly,so maybe that was passion? Even now, I’m finding French hard and so so demanding, but still finding myself wanting to put in the effort and wanting to immerse myself in French culture by listening to French radio or watching French TV or reading French news, and I wouldn’t be doing that in my spare time if I didn’t love it would I?
When I think about it, I am very passionate about the importance of languages,especially in education as it’s a well-known fact us British people are reluctant language learners. But I strongly believe that if the way languages were taught and examined in schools was reformed, more young people would be encouraged to take languages, and this is a change I want to campaign for and make a difference towards. And because of this, I think it’s important for me to consider a language degree and not dismiss it on the grounds that I’m not confident enough or don’t have the ability because I have fought too hard for too long to get to even this competency in French which could barely be described as intermediate to give up. I want to keep fighting to become fluent in French and then help others to do the same in a far less stressful environment that students have to learn languages in today.
Although it may sound like I’ve got everything figured out now, I really don’t. Not many universities in the UK actually offer European Studies, and most of them are in Scotland which is miles and miles and miles from where I live. In addition to this, none of the universities I’ve already booked open days for under the pretence of doing geography and history at offer that course so I’m going to have cancel all my plans and start all over again. Finally I’m still yet to convince my parents – and myself – that I’m capable of making the right decision and that languages/politics is a viable career path for me. I mean don’t get me wrong my parents know I’m indecisive better than anyone – the only reason I’d managed to narrow the universities offering geography and history down to five was because they were the only ones within a reasonable distance (of which I mean about 150 miles) of home,and even then I couldn’t find a favourite but that wasn’t too much of an issue as I could figure that out once I’d visited them on their open days in the summer. So when I dropped the bombshell that I don’t want to study that anymore and wanted to change the course completely, they probably thought I’d gone mad. It took me long enough to decide to do geography and history – prior to that I wanted to do just history – so because I keep changing my mind, they probably think I don’t have a clue what I want and will get to uni and change my mind after a few weeks. And honestly, I’m struggling myself to trust myself to make the right decision. It’s hard, and I’m sure there are many other people my age going through the same thing. It’s drilled into us that what we decide to do at uni will set us in a particular path for life – as we progress few education, we gradually make our options narrower and narrower by going from studying 10 GCSEs, to 3 a levels, to one/two subjects at degree level – but that’s not the case, because many degrees lead to a wide variety of careers and sometimes you don’t even need a specific degree for a job, so really unless you do something very specific like ship building, then you should be fine. I’m gradually coming to terms with the fact that my choice for university degrees won’t ruin my future, or limit me too much, but I feel like the next week or so are going to be very hectic trying to persuade my parents and myself that European Studies is what I want to do.
Anyway, that was a bit of a long ramble so congratulations if you made it to the end. If you have any tips for choosing what to do at uni or are in the same situation as me, feel free to comment below. 🙂