It’s been almost 4 months since I started this new course. I never thought that I would do such a thing, leaving university, I was done. More than done, I never wanted to sit another exam again. I’m the sort of person who gets massively nervous before exams of any sort, so to be 4 months into a Masters… well… I ask myself if I’m mentally deranged or just stupid on a regular basis but here we are. The first hurdle was a multiple choice set of questions… I had notes on notes, and sat before my screen waiting for the test to populate, I was far from comfortable. I was at home, in my own office and I had that stomach knot that told me I was about to take a test.
I think I’ve spoken before about the motorbike test in Ireland. I was ridiculously nervous and arrived with plenty of time only to see the two people ahead of me fail. One of the guys told me that there was a signpost that was hidden by leaves and he didn’t “Yield” when he got to it… yup this was Ireland. When I showed up, my examiner attached the bulky box around my neck and he handed me the most uncomfortable earpiece through which he gave me instructions. We arrive to the bike park, I jump on my bike and he heads the other direction. He gets into his car. Yes, my *motorbike* examiner got into his car to follow me.
We were in Wicklow town and I had no prior knowledge of the exam centre as I was expecting to be testing in Dublin. Twenty minutes later, my nerves had subsided a wee bit and all seemed to be going well. We came to a junction and he tells me to “continue and follow the road”. Which I do and then the radio starts to crackle and I can hear him no more. Disaster, in the middle of lunchtime traffic I had managed to lose my examiner. 40 minutes later after circling Wicklow town several times and not finding his car I return to the centre to be told I had of course failed. I argued my case but he wasn’t for changing. Didn’t do much for my pre-testing nerves.
So heading into this Masters I was completely convinced that 1) I would most likely struggle and 2) at some stage, based on my commitment to previous projects there would be a time when I would basically give up. So, I basically went into this with more negative thoughts than positive, which isn’t really a good starting point. All this kind of speaks to my own self confidence which does tend to hold me back at times. It sounds daft but I don’t know how many times I’ve thought “how the hell am I going to do “X” and deliver a good result”. This wasn’t going to be a short project either, this will last for 18 months. I remember when I started Karate, at that point just surviving the class was horrid… and blackbelt… that was a ridiculous target to aim towards. The difference was that initially, I wasn’t in Karate classes by choice, my choice to do this Masters was completely my decision and boy am I interested in the subject.
I had it narrowed down to two Universities I was in talks with, one in the US and one in Germany/Austria. Now I’ve been out of academia for a long time but I was amazed by the list of requirements that were needed to enter the course, coupled with the total lack of international experience by both Universities with regards to applications. Luckily my father worked in the University where I studied and I took time off during my studies to also work for there for a year -so I had contacts. I totally lost my way with the University in the US, they were incredibly unhelpful and dismissive of my documentation from my past. The funniest thing from both Universities, I had to produce my secondary school transcript. Now, in Ireland the school prepares you for the state exam, the school doesn’t release any paperwork, the official paperwork comes from the state. So I requested my certificates from the government and both parties rejected them due to the lack of school name on the paperwork. I could go on but won’t. After some stern conversations I started with the University in Germany/Austria.
So where are we…4 months in and I’m loving the work and the study. I’m reading more than I ever have in 20 years and even better, I’m craving more. The last module we completed focused on B.I.G data and that’s something that we work with in DueDil so I felt quite comfortable with that. What’s nice is the opportunity to challenge my own thinking, for example, I’ve thought that face to face therapy and coaching etc must be more effective than online based sessions, it turns out there is a whole world of tools and techniques that I had no idea about. Plus, according to a lecture I attended by the wonderfully named Dr. Wind, both are equally as effective, just need catering to the person receiving the treatment/coaching.
I have a long road ahead of me and I wouldn’t say I’m confident, but I’ve now met amazing people on the course with me, I am learning a lot and the reading can’t be hurting 🙂 so we go day by day and see how things progress. No doubt there will be harder times ahead, but for now all is good. There are challenges to timelines and a level of anxiety around ensuring that I get to lectures and get submissions done on time, but I know that I work best under pressure and who needs sleep anyway.