Oh Look, I'm A Student Again

by - Monday, December 04, 2017

Well what do you know - I've only gone and become a bladdy student again haven't I?

If you're a long term reader of this blog, you might know that I already have an undergraduate degree - I graduated with first class honours in Music Journalism in 2014 and absolutely loved the entire experience. Although I really wanted to get some proper life and work experience after graduating, I knew deep down that my heart lay in academia, and so earlier this year, I decided I wanted to go back and get my Masters. A few months later, I've finished my official proposal and am three months into life as a part-time Masters degree in the School of Music, Humanities and Media.

So how did I get here?
Well, it's long been an ambition of mine to become a professional academic lecturer, and the route to that involves getting a PhD. Having seen some friends make the transition from undergrad straight to PhD and find it pretty tough, I felt that a Masters course might be a better form of preparation to ease me back into the world of studying and prepare me for a full-on PhD.

Having looked at some taught courses with a traditional lecture/seminar set up, I realised that the part of my undergrad I really enjoyed was the final independent dissertation, where I could immerse myself in whatever I wanted. With that in mind, I made the decision to pursue a Masters By Research, which would enable me to pick exactly my topic of interest from the off. I also made the decision to enroll as a part time student, meaning I could ease a bit of the cabin-fever pressure that comes from the 24/7 independent study lifestyle.

And how exactly are you affording this?
With the help of a postgraduate student loan and a lot of hard work. I'm very fortunate in that I was eligible for the full tuition fee loan, but obviously this is another debt to take on and does nothing to ease the burden of you know, actually living. As someone who couldn't rely on the bank of mum and dad, this was a huge part of deciding to study part-time so I had some breathing room to work on things that could make me money and pay the bills. So when I'm not studying, I'm working part-time in a vintage shop, I'm freelance writing for various publications and I do odds bits of box office work at gigs too. Very busy, but all things I love and find to be rewarding, as well as keeping me immersed in the industries I want to work in.

But what are you actually studying?
Ah, the juicy bit. Right from being an undergrad, my interests were always very much in gender studies, gendered consumption of music and the meanings that fans attribute to certain artists. A right little sociologist, that's me. Since I graduated, I've also become fascinated with race, with hip-hop and with the way social media has facilitated our access to our favourite stars, and to fellow fans. And then of course, I've become something of an appreciator of a little artist named Drake.

Whack all those interests together, and I've got myself a thesis proposal that I'm finding challenging, exciting and ultimately, something that I think will really contribute to the understanding of feminism's place in 21st century hip-hop. I don't want to say much more considering how much my thesis is likely to change over the next two years, but right now, I'm pinching myself a little that I get to read around all of these topics and call it work.

And how is it going so far?
Pretty well I'd say! It's very early days, and it's quite difficult to know how on track you are when there's no real comparison, but I'm really enjoying being a student again. It feels great to be inquisitive, to learn new things and to undertake the challenge of articulating my thoughts in watertight arguments.

Compared to my undergrad, it feels completely different - I feel like a proper adult now and know when to ask for the support I need from my supervisors, who I feel treat me as a professional colleague rather than a pupil. Ask me again in a few months when I enter the real writing phase, but at the moment, I'm feeling fully validated by my decision to go back to school.

Are you a Masters or PhD student? I'd love to chat, especially if you're studying something similar/have published in this field/ have any general advice on staying sane. Get in touch!

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