When you think you’ve got your life sorted and everything goes upside down overnight
Let me start by saying this: I’m a third year. This is that nebula zone of floating in the air and trying to figure out what to do with your life. Some of us know our path already or have found out on the way. Some are still at the intersection of Master and Work and some are just trying to postpone this conversation as long as they can. I used to think of myself as belonging to the first category. This is a story of how I got from the first category to the third and yet how I manage to keep a positive attitude for future perspectives.
During last summer, I made up my mind of going straight into Masters and after browsing through programmes, I found it: the perfect MA for me. I was already picturing myself in the class, taking part in the discussions and overall being extremely satisfied with what I’m achieving. This daydream lasted from August and up until November, when the application portal opened. I went online to see what documents I needed to prepare and…surprise, surprise…I can no longer find the programme anywhere on the internet. It disappeared without a trace form any web source. “OK, Sabrina, that’s alright, they might be having some problems with the platform”. I email the university, the faculty, the dean, literally anyone whose contact details I could find out there and, eventually, I get the response I was afraid of: “We are sorry to announce you that the programme you were interested in has closed and the last student intake ever was the summer of 2019”. When you plan for a Master, the last on your mind is them closing the programme when you want to apply, yet, as you see, it could happen. With no plan B in mind, here is an insight of how I am coping with it, which, hopefully, will be of some help if an unexpected situation gets into your plans as well.
The first thing that I suggest you do after the D-day (deception day) is to take a few days off from any other last-minute plan B setting. Because I was so focused on that particular programme, nothing else I was seeing seemed to equal it, hence I was prompt to reject any other alternatives in the days following that news. I also started applying for Grad Programmes in the most chaotic way possible, without a direction in mind. Then I stopped. I stopped, watched a movie, went out to take some walks and got in touch with close friends to tell them what’s happened. Those days were the recovery days in which I gathered a lot of positive energy form those around me trying to help, either simply by listening or by randomly sending me alternative programmes they thought I might be interested in.
I also scheduled a meeting with my personal tutor to let her know what I am going through. It’s really important that they know about your plans commencing graduation, as well as the process of achieving them and any thoughts or concerns you may have along the way. My tutor was really encouraging and had very kind and motivating words to say to me. I also made sure I’m engaged in activities for maintaining my well-being, which for me meant volleyball.
After about a week off from anything future-related, I started to look at alternative programmes with a more positive attitude and I actually made a full list of potential other programmes which I will apply to. I also created an Excel sheet with Schemes that haven’t closed applications yet and which I am also in the process of applying to. If I could turn back time and go back in August, I’d look for a backup Programme right then, just to spare myself of some stress if something went wrong with my first option. Now, comparing to about a month ago, I feel much more convinced that if that program got closed, it means that I shouldn’t have belonged to that student community and that there is a different place where I fit in.
Moral of the story: plans may change overnight but don’t allow that to take you off track. In the end, as naïve as it sounds, there are and will always be alternatives that you need to take advantage of and keep in mind that if your plan A hasn’t worked, it means that your plan B will be an even better option.