Becoming Academic Adults

Three years ago we started together as undergraduates in History, meeting for the first time in a five o’clock lecture on Georgian history in what was basically a caravan as the university was building the new lecture rooms. Now we are preparing to start our Masters- Liv at Bristol University studying History and me (Jess, nice to meet you) at Bath Spa University studying Heritage Management!

We’ve both found that the move from undergraduate to postgraduate has been a much more nerve wracking experience than either of us expected, especially in comparison to starting university, and we wanted to share our thoughts on the matter from two very different perspectives; Liv as a mature student with an adorable baby and me the student who went straight from college to uni and then to my Masters and doesn’t quite know what life is without academia!

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You would think that after three years of studying for my degree, I would be less apprehensive about starting my MA! I’ve done the nine o’clock lectures, the studying, the late night essay writing and I’ve written a 10,000 word dissertation while room guiding but this time I’m more nervous than when I was left by my mother at my student house three years ago. I’m jumping out of my comfort zone (for once!) to study Heritage Management instead of History like I first planned but amongst all the anxiety about studying a new subject, I’m extremely excited to be doing something new!

Since I started my job, I’ve become more confident that the heritage industry is where I want to work and I’ve spent the last two years building up my experience and knowledge of where I would particularly like to work within the industry. I’ve guided for two years in an eighteenth century town house, worked as a costumed interpreter, with a ridiculous hat, sold tickets and am now a Duty Manager- responsible for the day to day running of the museum as well as the museum’s maintenance, but that’s a whole different story! However, working in the heritage industry and studying Heritage seem like two separate worlds to me at the moment!

I think what I’m most concerned about is the move from studying history to focusing purely on heritage. I’ve spent the last three years focusing on eighteenth century history and I’ve had moments where I’ve doubted whether I’ve made the right choice. I originally was going to continue studying eighteenth and nineteenth century England but the module was cancelled and I moved to Heritage Management after discussing it with the module co-ordinator and my boss as it would be the best course for my career plans. I do find myself asking whether I’ve made the right choice by moving to Heritage Management rather than looking for a history course somewhere else, especially when most of my peers have continued studying history. I have no idea what I want to study, what I want to write my dissertation on and whether to focus on one sole area or whether to study a variety; an area which has led to great debate amongst those I’ve discussed it with. I’m not used to being unsure on what I want to study and it’ll be interesting to see whether studying heritage was the right choice in the end….

Liv’s one is up next! Look out for the cute baby!!!

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