Written by Leah Martin, USA
The day I graduated with a bachelor’s degree, it was hot and humid in my home state of Minnesota. The sun beat down on my black robe as I walked to the ceremony where I would accept my diploma. Other graduates may have been anxious, but I was confident.
Because I had a 5-year plan:
Work for 3 years.
Gain some experience.
Apply to graduate school.
Graduate with a Master’s before age 26.
Sounds perfect, right?
Before I knew it, 6 years had flown by.
WHAT HAPPENED TO MY 5-YEAR PLAN??
In those 6 years, I had learned a million different things- like how to manage projects, secure funding for non-profits, host community events, and recruit volunteers. Yet, I had also found places where my knowledge was lacking. When I came across the Intercultural Encounters Master’s Programme at the University of Helsinki, it felt like the perfect fit. The description matched the themes of my work history and the courses were in the exact areas where I craved education.
I would love to say that I applied right then and there and that the rest was history, but it wasn’t that speedy. First, I did my research and made sure that the University of Helsinki was a great school (it is). Then, I talked to professors, friends who had visited Helsinki, and consulted with my partner, to see how we would make a big move work. After a whole year of thinking and a whole lot of encouragement, I finally got up the nerve to apply. I applied to the University of Helsinki in January, and in April I got an email saying I was accepted!
Which brings us to here and now… with me writing from my Helsinki apartment, eating Karelian pie, listening to Nordic folk music, and brushing up on my basic Finnish.
Did my plan go exactly as I imagined?
But despite what I thought upon graduation, there is no perfect time to go to graduate school.
As we get older, our opportunities grow but so do our responsibilities. There are real hurdles that stand in the way:
Lack of money
Lack of information
Lack of resources
There are also excuses:
“I’m too old”
“I’m too busy”
“Its too hard”
If I wanted to study, I had to make the decision and move forward, leaving the 5-year plan behind me. I learned that a whole lot of people were willing to help make the experience a success.
So, wish me luck on my first round of classes. And if you’re thinking of taking a leap of faith into the Baltic Sea of studies…do it! I’d be happy to help make your dream a reality.