As the end of her postgraduate course approaches student Olaya Gonzalez reflects on her time:
“Whoever said university is just about studying did not come to the University of Brighton. And they definitely did not encounter staff willing to make the experience as full, enjoyable, relaxed and familiar as possible.
“After 7.56 months – as someone kindly calculated – of tough learning, the postgraduate modules came to an end on Tuesday 24th May; after a very last final project block dedicated to the presentation, analysis and discussion of the primary research findings of the dissertation due at the end of September. For the students, it meant the end of a circle that still has a little extra to roll, but somehow it feels different.
“It meant the end of waking up and getting ready for lectures, preparing readings for the following class, seeing mates or shuffling to the restaurant to grab a quick cup of tea, coffee or a naughty but yet delicious flapjack or chocolate muffin. It meant the end of a long obstacle course, a resistance race that took the worst out of them and showed them what they did not know about themselves.
“About their strategic abilities, about their discipline, their passion for what they were doing. About what learning really meant: the process of thinking, challenging what is said, and not taking anything for truth until having put it through the newly discovered critical filter that was there all the way.
“Doing a masters may have taught plenty of things; technical and professional expertise that seemed so distant in September 2015. New and more in-depth knowledge, skills…those were things that all students forecasted. However, it is the personal attributes, the ‘who we are?’, that have surprised the group. Who am I, who have I become, what has the masters given me in the personal area?
“After the final project block, the staff prepared an intimate tea party for us. A goodbye, and, in some way, a thank you for your trust, for your passion, for your participation, and for what you have brought to the experience of teaching. During this afternoon tea, conversations went around about who have I become. Words like open-minded, flexible and adaptable, self-assured, calm and confident, not afraid of making mistakes or being wrong. They filled the student’s mouths just as the sandwiches and scones that Ken Woodward – course leader for the MSc International Hospitality Management – had prepared for no other reason than spoiling the students that were about to leave and focus on their final projects.
“Some of these students will leave the country, the continent, and may never come back. Yet, there is one thing that cannot be left behind, that will shape the identities of every single individual that took a step into the University of Brighton on the 28 September 2015 and now are taking that step out: the experience, the learning, the knowledge, the skills, and the who I am. Whoever says they feel the same as the first day did not attend the course. They did not immerse themselves because after living this journey for a year there is no one that can say they have not been shaped into something greater, bigger, more confident and willing to get out and eat the world!
It may be the end of a cycle that yet has a little bit more to go, but certainly it is only the beginning of the new us.