Postgraduate Blog

Jess Irving

When I started thinking about where I wanted to go for university and what undergraduate degree I wanted to do, I always joked around saying that I would stay at uni forever and do as many degrees as humanly possible. Having been in education for so long, the idea of leaving it terrified me and I didn’t want to go into the real world and be a ‘real adult’ just yet. I remember I would always say to my parents that I would keep doing degrees until I finally became Dr Jess, because no one could reject you from a job if you were a doctor. Whilst I don’t see myself becoming Dr Jess anytime soon, I decided in January this year that I wanted to do a masters degree. After having quite a turbulent experience studying English Literature at Exeter during the first few years of my degree, it wasn’t until the end of my undergrad that I fell back in love with my course and found the area of literature that I was most interested in. From this, I made the decision that I wanted to explore this area further whilst it was still fresh in my mind and I had the willpower to do so.


After completing my undergraduate degree at Exeter and having fallen in love with the city, it seemed only logical to do my masters here. Not only am I familiar with the surroundings, and know all the good spots to find a decent coffee, I also know how the university functions. I’m lucky to already know the lecturers who run my course, as well as having a very supportive group of friends who are also in Exeter this academic year. But what really made Exeter stand out was the variety of specialties that the English Literary Studies programme offers. My area of interest in English is in World and Postcolonial literature, an area that many universities are yet to offer. So the fact that Exeter provided such an extensive range of modules, not only in this area but in every genre and speciality, really helped me finalise my decision.


As a result of the chaos that is COVID-19, most of the postgraduate courses at Exeter have been pushed back a couple of weeks; meaning we start mid-October rather than the usual September.  Initially, this seemed great. I thought I would really enjoy having a few extra weeks off whilst all my housemates began their courses. However, now that I am actually living it, I am well and truly bored. I’ve got to the point where I am ready to start the year and get back into learning. That being said, I know it’s not going to be all fun and games when I eventually start. It’s beginning to dawn on me that this is going to be a real step up from my undergrad days. I’m already learning how important it is to priorities and organise your time well. After looking at my required reading and the level of detail that needs to go into my work in order to do well, I think it’s going to be a shock to the system. But one I am totally ready for. Despite all of the additional work and extra pressure, I’m still really excited to study something that is more tailored to my personal interests.


Unfortunately, due to these ‘strange and unprecedented times’, it’s made the social element of university life that much harder to navigate. With the introduction of the rule of six and lectures and seminars being moved online, meeting new people has been made that little bit harder. That being said, lots of societies are creating online events and activities to try and help bridge the gap that social distancing has created. This year has seen an increase in Zoom pub quizzes and Q&A’s that have allowed so many more students to get involved and meet new people. With the postgraduate academic year starting soon, I am both excited and apprehensive to get back to learning and to see how this already bizarre year will pan out!


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