Life as a fourth year


Life as a fourth year is already big, bad and scary. Last night I opted out of drinks with my friends in favour of staying up into the early hours of the morning chasing up on emails and chewing through my remaining finger nails whilst streaming the US Open final live radio coverage.

In true Scots fashion, Andy kept us on the edge of our seats as he battled his way through a gruelling five hour, five set match against the unfaltering human mountain that is Djokovic. It was all too much for me, and I was forced into early retirement as the game entered its final set. I needed my sleep.

Waking up on the Tuesday morning to an onslaught of texts and Facebook updates about Murray’s miraculous first Slam win, I felt a surge of relief for our dour wee Scots lad. After almost a decade of professional tennis playing (he entered the junior circuit back in 2003), he has finally achieved the moment that he has been aiming for relentlessly. Murray had his ten year plan executed to a tee.

Which brings my train of thought (and panic) nicely back to me. My years studying at St Andrews have been the best of my life: I have made truly wonderful friends, I have consistently attained good grades, I feel empowered by what I have been taught both inside and outside of the classroom, and I have never had to deal with the town’s estate agents.

Yet ask me what my plans are for after graduation, and I run away towards the nearest dark corner and cry salty tears of desperation.

I honestly think that my fault lies in the fact that I am a bit of a geek. I have loved learning about everything that has been put in front of me (obviously excluding the yucky statistics module that I was obliged to take last year), whether it be my first year interest module in Renaissance art, exploring all angles of my zoology degree programme, being a good mum to my three cracking academic kiddies, or simply being taught how to convert my wild school hockey swing into rather more graceful golf one.

But is this really a design flaw? My own mum (flesh and blood, not academic) has always told me that she is incredibly proud of me for being a well-rounded individual. My life story is full of fun, exciting and diverse experiences, some of them relevant to my field of academic study, yet all of them vital to creating me as an individual.

I often worry that these days everyone is so obsessed with buffering their C.V. with extremely committed and focused placements, and that I may lose out to them in later years when I enter the competitive realm of the workplace.

Having worked with some wonderful Masters and PhD students during my stint in Canada this summer, I believe I have come to the firm conclusion that I wish to continue my studies with a Masters programme. I think that for students who are unsure of their next step (raise your hands, there is no shame here), a further degree provides the crucial learning stage that quite possibly is missing from an undergraduate degree; learning to apply your knowledge to a given career path.

In my case, whether this results in applying my zoology to a teaching career, a scientific journalism vocation or even a veterinary medicine line of work, I still have no idea. This is what scares me half to death. My final year at St Andrews is upon me and the clock is ticking for me to make some seriously important decisions. I need to sort my life out and come up with a ten year plan to rival Murray’s.

I am a fourth year, and I am scared. But you know what they say, a problem shared is a problem halved (as long as that person brings cupcakes).


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