Why I took the risk and how it paid off
There are many factors to consider when deciding if going to university is the right next step for you. The most obvious is the extent to which completing a degree will actually help you in your career.
But for many Manx students the decision is more complicated than that, as choosing to pursue further education can also mean moving your life off the island for three years (at least) and building a new life in the UK or further afield.
It’s a big step to take, and if you’re not quite sure what you want to do with your life, it can feel like a huge risk.
That’s certainly what it felt like for me.
I didn’t have a clue what job I wanted to do when I was 18 and I didn’t have a clear path of how I’d advance into any career from my chosen degree: Spanish, Arabic and Politics.
But I was incredibly lucky and the risk paid off.
My degree – though hard work at the time – allowed me to explore my options and find a subject area I love and that I use in my work as a consultant every single day.
People often ask me why I chose to study Arabic. I think it seems like a rather rogue choice for an 18-year old girl from the Isle of Man. And to be to be totally honest, it was – I had no idea what I wanted to do!
I knew from my time at school that I loved languages and that I wanted to continue with Spanish, and also try a new language. In 2011, when I was applying for courses, I watched with keen interest as the Arab Spring spread across the Middle East. I decided that I wanted to learn more about this fascinating part of the world and that learning Arabic would be a great way to start.
It wasn’t easy, but I’ve never regretted my choice. I loved learning the language and became ever more interested in learning about the Middle East and its fascinating history, rich culture and complex politics. I was also able to choose modules focusing on the Middle East within the Politics component of my degree, which complimented my language study really well.
The knowledge and understanding I gained from my degree – particularly from my year abroad, which I spent in Oman – has proven absolutely vital for my work and life now. It has allowed me to travel the Middle East, working across the region and offering regional expertise to businesses with an interest in the region.
So even though I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with my life, I followed my interests and the risk 100% paid off. When I look back now, choosing to go to university was the best thing I ever did.
Now I totally appreciate that this isn’t the case for everyone. Aside from considering potential the impact on your career, deciding to move away means accepting huge changes to your personal life. It means leaving your family and friends and making a new life in a new place. So it really depends on what kind of a person you are and what you stand to gain, on a personal level, from moving away.
The Isle of Man is a small place, and many young Manx people look forward to getting away from the island for a few years and experiencing life outside of our wonderful, but sometimes claustrophobic Manx bubble – and I was certainly in that camp!
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the Isle of Man, but getting away for a while can bring new opportunities on the one hand, and also make us appreciate what we have here on the island.
So if, like I was, you’re not exactly sure what you want to end up doing but you want to study further and experience living somewhere new, my biggest piece of advice is to do your research…
- Reflect on what you’ve enjoyed at school and what interests you
- Use the internet to read more about your chosen subject and make sure you ARE actually interested in it after all.
- Search online for the kind of jobs you might be able to do with your chosen subject to make sure you keep your options open – in my case, I quickly realised that speaking different languages would always be useful in one way or another.
- Talk to people! Reach out to people on social media who have studied similar subjects or gone to the universities you’re looking at, and think about how you might stand to benefit – or not – from experiences like they’ve had.
- And ultimately, don’t be afraid to take the risk! If you work hard and follow a path you’re passionate about, it will more than likely pay off.