The Anxiety Chronicles

Taking a master’s degree?! | The Anxiety Chronicles

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I completed my undergraduate degree in International relations and Human rights in November 2017. University was one of the most challenging and emotionally draining experiences I have ever put myself through, and there were times I honestly thought I would quit because everything felt like it was just too much. My anxiety was often over the roof, but at the same time I think it was going to university that helped me start becoming more conscious about it and taking the first real steps towards learning how to control it. Overall, I consider the years of my undergraduate degree as very successful  and positive and I can say that there really isn’t anything I regret or that I wish I had done differently.

Even before being done with my undergraduate degree, I knew I was going to continue with my studies and take a master’s degree. It has just always felt logical to me, not only because of how Italian universities work (long story, meh), but also because I love learning and, as weird as it might sound, I enjoy studying. Moreover, I still don’t know exactly what path and what career I want to pursue, and if I were to step into the labour market right now I wouldn’t really know where to go from here. Pursuing higher education will hopefully open more doors for me and help me figure out who I want to be.

In the past few months, I have thought hard about what master’s degree I’d like to take – and where. Many people asked me why I don’t want to study abroad, telling me that if I don’t leave Italy I will have no future, that my degree will be worth nothing “and you’ll end up living under a bridge”. Encouraging much, huh. Personally, in this moment of my life I don’t feel the need – nor I want – to go live abroad, for a series of reasons that I won’t list here, so I tried to not listen to them and just decide based exclusively on what’s best for me. During my second year of undergrad, I was almost sure I wanted to study digital communication and I looked up a bunch of universities that offered that type of program. One that I really liked is in Milan, and for some time I fantasized about moving there and living the city life. Going to all the nice cafes, book shops, events (taking a ton of aesthetic photos for Instagram… cause that’s important… right?!). After thinking broadly about it though, I understood that, as cool as it would surely be, the city life isn’t for me. I quite literally hate big cities, and I can’t spend more than a few days there, let alone two whole years, before wanting to run away. Even if the degree itself was interesting, I figured that the environment you’re in is as important as any other factor in determining how successful your studies will be. Even more when you’re suffering from severe anxiety. (plus, living in Milan is so expensive and rent is insane *sighs*).

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As I said, my undergraduate degree revolved around international relations and human rights. If at first I was planning to take a different path going into postgrad, during my last year, thanks to some really interesting exams, the great professor I got to write my final dissertation with and especially an amazing journalism internship, I fell back in love with my program, to the point that I decided to stick to it. I am probably going to take my master’s degree in history and international politics and I am pretty excited about it. At the same time, there are many things I worry about and even just looking at the university website makes me wish I didn’t have to make such a huge a decision in what seems like way too little time (I have until the end of September to enroll).

Will it be the right decision? Will I regret it? Will I even be able to get till the end and graduate? Will it make me feel better or worse? Will I be proud of myself or feel like a complete disappointment? And the scariest thought of all: what will happen once I am done with my master’s and finally have to get out of the somewhat safe (or at least, well known) university world? Will I know where to go and what to do?

I can’t help but ask myself all these questions, which I have no answer for. The best I can do is remind myself that I don’t need to have the rest of my life already figured out, and that taking things one day at a time is the only way to get through these challenging years.

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