Bitching Brew

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I wasn't sure that I wanted to be stuck in debt for the next several years. That doubt doesn't really matter anymore, as I'm now unable get a student loan for my studies abroad (nor even to study here). Yes, my carefully-laid plans have been shredded by the financial crisis.

I've saved hard for some time now, but even factoring in all possible funding and scholarships, I'm falling too far short. I always knew a student loan would be necessary to cover a third of my costs. The ugly truth is that I can't afford to study what I want to - not just where I want to, but anywhere.

So, I don't really know what I want to do now. These doubts were growing during my recent travels, and now the loss of my default option has created a yawning gulf in front of me. I'm trying to see it as an opportunity...

The options open to me fall into three broad categories:
  1. Work away for another two years to slash the loan needed. This would mean that I'd be applying at the end of 2009 to begin in autumn 2010.
  2. Find a one-year Master's course in a discipline I'm slightly interested in. If it was in Ireland or the UK, I could probably afford it... just.
  3. Throw the towel in. Escape from this dead career path, renounce further study, and head to foreign lands to enjoy the second half of my twenties.
I don't like option one at all. I'd have to scrimp and save for another four years, go back to college having been out for four years, and worst of all, probably be stuck here in Dublin in a depressing career rut for another two years. I could only survive it if I found a new line of work; however, I'm in this job only because I couldn't find anything else. It'll hardly be easier to find satisfying work now.

Option two offers the advantages of a higher qualification, a probable change of career, and an escape from the current ball and chain. It comes with the disadvantages of wiping out all my savings, probably tying me to Britain or Ireland until I'm thirty, and having to settle for a field of study (and career) not wholly desired.

Option three is exerting a strong pull on me right now. My current line of work offers neither intellectual nor personal satisfaction. The corporate world is clearly not for me. Even if I can't find intellectual satisfaction by running away, perhaps I can find something that I enjoy - something that warms my heart.

It would be risky to choose option three. I could find myself experiencing Canada Redux, more than once: having the time of my life for a year, and then being forced to leave. I could live abroad comfortably for the next five years, but then what? No qualifications, no consistent work experience, and possibly having to return to Ireland?

It could, however, be the courageous choice. Having a good TCD degree is a great advantage, but in some ways, it can be a burden. It pushes one toward either postgraduate studies or a professional career, and the subject studied narrows the options further. The burden is psychological more than social - a largely internal pressure to "make the most of your degree". I've been avoiding both graduate studies and a professional career for some time now, though I believed I had settled on a plan to pursue both. The doubts persist.

In my twenty-five years, I've discovered one activity that I truly love: travel. Maybe I never lost my childhood curiosity. I'm fascinated by urban life and charmed by the great outdoors. To my love of travel, I've married my other great hobby of the last three years: meeting new people. I've not yet grown bored of constantly adding new friends and stirring the social pots. Having said all that, I now have a strong appreciation of home, of friends, and especially of family. The great lesson of my time abroad is that although I have a strong intellectual bent, my real passions are social. I would have never discovered that (or fully indulged them) had I continued straight on at university.

I'm restless, and I have much to decide. Each path offers riches of various kinds; however, the paths are long, and thus they also preclude so much.

P.S. Photos from the trip will follow soon!

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  • Martin, I have a suggestion that you may find totally stupid, but hey! I'm going to make it anyway...

    Since you enjoy travelling so much and you have an obvious talent for writting (yes, you do), why don't you consider a career that includes both? You could write reviews for travel magazines and Web sites (as a freelancer, that would gives you the freedom to be paid to do what you like : travel.) Or you could write travel books.

    I don't know. It's just a suggestion, but I think it would suit you. And it would allow you to study at the same time, if you want to pursue your studies in another field.

    I think that your writting is insightful, witty and interesting. People would definitely read you.

    By Blogger Sonia, at Sun Mar 29, 06:03:00 a.m.  

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