On work worth doing.

Working full time and doing a master’s degree at the same time is difficult. Lots of people probably know this already, and I really thought I knew this when I applied. I now realise I really didn’t have a thorough understanding of just how challenging it would be. I didn’t know or expect to spend night after night working or studying to catch up on things I just have not had time to do. I didn’t imagine that it would be so difficult to organise my time to fit in both work and study. The theory was that I work freelance, I can accept and reject work whenever I like. December 2016 me is laughing in the naive face of June 2016 me. How very foolish I was.

In addition to time management difficulties, it’s also difficult because a master’s degree is bloody difficult. I feel like this is a fact that has crept up on me and slapped me in the face. I had expected that I would understand the things I am learning after having read about it enough. That’s not what has happened. It’s probably a combination of the fact that I have never studied in this field before and that it’s a master’s degree so it is, by nature, of a higher level. All in all, it’s been challenging. I am just now, nearing the end of the first semester, starting to understand things sufficiently to be able to write the essays I have to write – whether I have time to write them is another matter!

Having struggled with this since September, I’ve questioned whether I did the right thing in deciding to do a master’s degree. The course material isn’t what I expected, some things, I feel, are not necessarily useful for my career as a translator. Some things are just fundamentally uninteresting to me.

However, I have found that, although it’s not what I expected, I have learned quite a lot about areas which I never imagined would be interesting to me. History of Art is an area that has never interested me; had you told me a year ago that I would choose to write an essay about Velázquez’s Las Meninas and van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait I probably wouldn’t have believed you. But here I am, writing this after almost three full days of research on these two paintings, having thoroughly enjoyed it. Cultural criticism, in general, and literary criticism, in particular, are areas which have sparked a huge interest in me, and I find myself reading about it for enjoyment, not study purposes.

Although it’s not 100% in line with what I expected, it is thoroughly intellectually enriching. It could even open up new career paths and goals in the future. It’s made me consider new fields in which I may like to work. Therefore, I’ve come to the conclusion that although this master’s degree is not necessarily what I expected, and it may not provide me with what I originally intended to achieve from it, it is work worth doing. And as someone famous once said, “Nothing worth having comes easy”.

So I suppose my intention for writing this, aside from a sense of catharsis, is to encourage you to pursue new objectives; try something new, study a new subject or language, work on a new interest or hobby. Learn about something you would never have thought would interest you. You might just find that that little tangent leads you to newer, more interesting paths.


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