It's Still Hip To Be Square

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Last year I returned to university to do postgraduate study, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made for my career. 

I had contemplated returning to do my Master of International Relations for a while, and, like my approach to the rest of life, once I decide on something, I decide on it with conviction.

 Yes, I have occasionally been that cringe-y know-all mature age student, but thanks to my Nordic genes and religious devotion to sunscreen, I can generally blend in.  

So, what have I learned, apart from the fact that students from every country in the world seem to be fascinated with analyzing the car-crash-train-wreckage that is the Trump presidency? Quite a lot actually, and not all of it from prescribed reading material.  

Here’s 5 unexpected gains from going back to school:

1.    Your brain will explode (in a good way). Contrary to what was once thought, our brains are elastic and can continue to learn new things constantly. We literally don’t know what we don’t know. And I’m not just talking about textbook knowledge, I mean the exposure to the new cultural, philosophical, technological and sensual stuff a classroom full of other people from diverse backgrounds exposes you to.

2.    You’ll network. You know those annoying group assignments? Well, they’re still annoying. However, there are lots of un-annoying cool people from all over the world on campus, and I have loved getting to know some of them in classes. The other aspect to this point is the lecturers you meet, who are all top their fields, and mentor-material.

3.    Libraries are awesome. I love libraries so much. They are quiet, have lightning speed free wifi, and are full of books. Enough said.

4.     It’s good to think. When was the last time you sat down and just thought about something, without having to do 357 other things at once? Well, study has forced me to do that, because it’s really difficult to learn effectively any other way. And that is a skill that will carry you well in life, my friend.

5.     I’ve learned to speak up. As someone who is on the introvert end of the scale, speaking in front of a classroom or audience is something I’ve had to really work at, and continue to. But you know what? Practice makes perfect and I’m getting there with the help of some coaching.

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ExpressShastri Haines