Posted Sept. 8, 2015
No matter the course, the university or even the city, there are some things that all postgrads will know. Whether it's the shared annoyance at the undergrad Freshers, or the panic over the idea of having to do original research, we've all been there. Be prepared to encounter the following… 1. “Oh No, I'm Old” You've been out for the night with your fellow students, and you suddenly start to feel tired. It's only midnight – how can this be? The undergrads around you are still barely on their second drink, but all you can think about is your cosy bed and how much work you could get done if you get up early. Not to mention the fact you now get hangovers, and you really would like to avoid one. Yes, that's right – you're now officially “past it”. No longer are you the first year undergrad without a care in the world, but instead you're the postgraduate who has to head home early to work on your thesis. Every undergrad has met one on a night out, and now it's your turn to become one.
2. Original Thinking Time For most of us, the first time we have to present some original research is as a postgraduate. No longer can we just pull apart arguments and compare and contrast – instead, we have to propose new lines of thought and find angles that haven't been found before. The first moment that you successfully do this is one you'll hopefully remember – there's nothing quite like realising that you can do this, and that there is a place out there for you.
3. Your Supervisor is Still Right And inevitably, the previous moment is followed by this also common one – the moment when your supervisor takes one look at your stunning original thought and points out every last flaw in it. Don't worry – this is a good sign. The fact they consider it worthy of engagement is a sign that you're well on your way to being a great academic. Besides, think of it as practice for when those peer reviews come rolling in.
4. The Fear You're getting to the end of the year and it suddenly hits you – you've not got any plans lined up. Or, if you have, they're in the real world. As a real person. With a real job. Breathe. You've got this – if you can write those last-minute essays at three in the morning, you can be a real functioning adult. Everyone gets the fear at some point, and you're definitely not alone. If you are finding it a struggle, then why not try talking to someone who can help? Whether it's welfare, peer listening services or just a sympathetic tutor, they'll have spoken to dozens of postgraduates with similar worries.
5. “Was I Ever THAT Young?” Finally, there's the wonder at the incoming Freshers. Surely you were never that young – or that wide-eyed with optimism! You'll find yourself amazed at their ability to be awake through 9am lectures on no sleep, and then head out that night again. Don't worry though – if you start feeling jealous, just remember that they've got three year of stress and then finals to come, and you're home and dry.
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