Over 10 years ago my best friend and I were selected to take part in an inter-school science competition (we came second in the end) being hosted here at the University of Surrey. We were 13 at the time. It was the first time I had ever been on a University campus and I felt like this was where I was destined to attend. I vividly remember being squished in the back of my physics teacher’s (questionable) car and driving into the campus. It seemed otherworldly to me. Almost as if there was some kind of spell cast over the place that made people feel like they belonged here. I couldn’t wait to grow up and attend Surrey. It was part of my dream of how my life would go.
Of course things change and plans and dreams get distorted. I never applied here for my undergraduate out of fear that I would never get the grades to be accepted and so I studied my undergraduate elsewhere. So last year when I was considering a Masters, there was only one place I was applying, the University of Surrey. My best friend did apply here for her Undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering and she is absolutely loving it. Over the past few years she was always telling me of the incredible things she got to do here and the friends she made. She would tell me that Surrey was the place that we had always imagined it was.
So when COVID hit early last year and I had just left my job 2 weeks before the first national lockdown I had no idea what I was going to do. I worked in the events industry and needless to say that industry is still yet to recover and won’t do for a long time yet. It was impossible for me to find a job within the sector that I had trained for so long for. The only option I really had was to go back to University. I knew Surrey offered International Events Management as a Masters degree so I thought that would be perfect for me having done my undergraduate in Events Management maybe this was the most perfect logical next step for me. Except, what if at the end of it I would still graduate with no hope of a job in that industry? Instead, I thought I should perhaps do a degree in a different sector that I could apply to the events industry but would still be able to get a job outside of events at the end of it. I looked at Digital marketing but the course content despite looking incredible just didn’t cause that spark within to light that internal flame. I saw creative writing and out of curiosity had a little peek at what was involved. I use to do a little bit of creative non-fiction writing here and there but had never committed to it and actually given the creative writing side of me a second glance, but looking at this course excited me and the future possibilities it could offer me. So of course, I applied, and here we are.
“Looking at this course excited me and the future possibilities it could offer me”
I only have lectures on Mondays and Tuesday and last semester they were all face-to-face, but this semester they will be online initially. This doesn’t concern me. Perhaps this is because my classes don’t have a ridiculous number of students, perhaps it’s because we all actually like to participate in the lectures. True, I grant you that not all lectures are diamonds, some feel like old bits of charcoal but don’t forget that under pressure, carbon turns into diamonds – even little ones. Only having lectures at the beginning of the week has meant that I can get a part-time job on the side which for me I can actually do remotely but I know others have found it great knowing that they can book shifts later in the week before they even know their timetable. Studying online also means that I don’t leave the flat much which can of course be frustrating – we all know this feeling way to well – however I live 13 other people so something is always happening in the kitchen. We put the effort in to hang out with each other. We play games together, we cook together, we party together, we have movie nights together, we even studied in the kitchen together. We have bonded in ways that we never would have if COVID didn’t make us hang out together.
We have bonded in ways that we never would have if COVID didn’t make us hang out together
Some people may say that going back to university during a global pandemic is not the best idea however, I know myself, and I know that I would not currently be doing anything that would actually help me and my future when this pandemic is over. I am studying a new skill for me which I can follow after I graduate and become a full-time writer of some sort, or I could go into marketing, or maybe I will be able to break back into the events industry. Either way, studying during COVID has helped me see things differently. It has helped me to see what is still possible even when the world is falling apart around you. Of course this year was not what I expected, it’s not what any of us expected but just because it doesn’t meet your imaginary idealistic expectations doesn’t mean that the reality can’t exceed them in ways you never expected.