Thursday, March 13, 2014

Day 193: I'm Going to Be a Master's Student!

I’ve been accepted to the MA in English Literature program at Western University!

For those of you who don’t know me IRL (or who haven’t taken the time to memorize every detail of my endlessly fascinating existence) Western is the university that I attend back in Canada when I’m not gallivanting off to different continents on exchange. Though I attend King’s College (a smaller campus about ten minutes’ walk from Western) I’m still a Western student, and it’ll be nice to return to a familiar university for my first graduate degree.

One condition of doing my exchange in my fourth year (rather than my third, like most sensible people) was that I have to return to Western next year and do either a fifth year of undergrad or my MA. I really don’t want to do a fifth year, since I feel like I’ve learned pretty much all I can at the undergrad level. However, Western has a great MA program and I’d have wanted to do grad work there anyways, even if I hadn’t been ‘forced’ to because of my exchange.

Receiving the acceptance email completely made my day. While I’m not surprised I was accepted, it’s still a huge relief to actually receive the offer. It’s one thing to be confident that you meet the standards of the program, and quite another to have the acceptance letter from the application committee!

Perhaps the most significant thing to me about this acceptance is that it’s confirmation that I’m on the right path. I didn’t plan on going into academia when I started university—I intended to get a college degree in journalism, get a day job, and write books.

Then I started studying English literature, expecting to hate essays and to find Beowulf and Paradise Lost boring. But I didn’t. I absolutely loved studying literature, even the endless readings, and the rewrites of papers, and the research in the library…

I just loved academics so much, and sometime early in my third year I realized that I didn’t want to stop. The idea that after fourth year I’d be done with readings and writing essays and discussing books in class wasn’t a relief; it sounded awful! I didn’t want to get out of university and enter ‘the real world.’ To me, university was (and is) a big part of the ‘real world.’

Now, as a mere four weeks of class (plus two weeks of break and three of exams) separate me from my undergraduate degree, I still feel the same way. The idea of being a graduate student, of continuing to engage with texts but at a higher level and helping undergrads to do the same, makes me so excited. I’m dreading leaving St. Andrew’s at the end of this year, but having an MA program waiting for me back in Canada makes me so much more enthusiastic about the future.

To those curious few wondering about the program: the MA at Western is composed of two sessions of coursework followed by another semester (the summer) of writing a thesis (at least, this is my plan for the year; there are a number of options.) I plan to take a variety of courses in different areas, but my thesis will likely concentrate on Milton’s court masque Comus and how the masque form serves to both reflect and create reality. This will allow me to read a lot of Renaissance literature, dramatic and otherwise, which is a favourite literary period of mine.

In short, I’m thrilled to be accepted into Western’s MA program, and I almost can’t wait to start… but I still plan to savour my last few weeks of undergrad. 

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