It's the beginning of the term and with high expectations and no expectations all at the same time I begin the next stage of my educational and personal journey to achieving my masters degree. With completing my undergraduate degree in Comparative Literature in the summer, I began the start of term completely blind as to what the upcoming year had to offer. With already completing three years at The University of Kent, I felt some comfort and reassurance in my choice to continue my adventure with the same university, however this was shortly overwhelmed with nerves as I took my first steps in the Centre for Journalism. These first few steps was the beginning of my new adventure.
It's Monday morning, conference starts at 9:30am and I am already running late - little does my lecturer's know this will probably be a reoccurring problem. Not because I am awful at waking up at 6:30am but also because I commute in everyday from Folkestone. So as time is slipping away from me, and panic is increasingly growing i arrive on time for Conference. Greeted with an abundance of warm welcomes and smiles conference begins and the first hurdle has been completed. With a set of fresh faces that I have never seen before, except for one cheeky chappy, my day is going extremely well. With a detailed rundown of how each day is expected to plan out and receiving my contracted hours for the week fear struck again.
The first thought that came into mind was how on earth am I going to balance completing my masters, and achieving a good grade with it, alongside working to be able to afford my masters degree, whilst also balancing being a part of Kent cheer and having a good social life in order to keep me sane. Now this seemed pretty easy for me when I was in my undergraduate degree with only 12 contract hours, allowing plenty of time to complete coursework and attend every cheer practice, whilst also working 4 times a week. BUT.... completing a masters degree with almost triple the amount of hours, alongside 9 hours of cheer and working in order to afford to get to university everyday, I began to panic. And what does a uni student do when they begin to panic, ring their mum.
So after speaking with mum for an hour, which in all honesty made me panic even more, the pressure was on. However, with a determined attitude and the reassurance that my fellow class mate, Josh, was also in the same position as myself I knew I had people that I could turn to. So reflecting back on my past degree and looking at what helped me get through my amazing experience, it was the society Kent Cheer that I joined in my first year and still remain a part of, that became a significant social and mental break from the hard and tedious coursework. I cannot stress enough how amazing joining a society is for every student, not only does it allow you to invest in sports, clubs and events it also allows you to meet an amazing group of people, from all different stages of their degrees, in which many will also be experiencing the same things as you. Alongside this, the amazing friends that I have made through my society and the places I have visited due to competing all across the country has certainly been a contributing factor to de-stressing my mind from the work load throughout my degree.
So after my reflection, it was clear to me that being apart of Kent Cheer was pivotal for my success of my masters, yet there was simply no time to commit myself to this sport due to the amount of hours that my masters life was demanding off of me. To make matters worse my training hours also clashed with my seminar classes, meaning for definite that I would not be able to attend Kent Cheer. However, I knew within my heart of hearts that my university experience was only heightened due to the extra curriculum activities I invested in. I accomplished so many things being a part of the committee for two years, a variety of skills from leadership, organisation and time management, all factors that aided me in my degree whilst also providing a social and fun atmosphere that helped me relax from extra stresses.
It was through this pure determination and the will to not give up on cheerleading that I had to devise a system in which allowed myself to succeed in both areas of my life, and at this stage it was educational and social. I created a chart that outlined my contracted hours for university, the weeks in which our holidays fell on and compared them to the training times. Adding up all the hours that i couldn't attend for cheer due to timetable clashes, I eventually came out with the exact amount of hours that I would be able to train, whilst also allowing room for extra revision and coursework. It was absolutely vital that I did not loose this side of university curriculum, as truth be told it was the only factor that keeps me motivated and sane whilst completing my masters.
It is a continuous struggle that I am dealing with every week. There are a multitude of negatives and positives to trying to balance the master's lifestyle alongside a social and working one, however, I cannot stress enough how beneficial and how vital it is to ensure that you are receiving a good social life. For ultimately, the stress of a degree or masters will always get to you and knock you at moments but the reassurance that you are not alone in your journey is significantly encouraging and healthy.
(picture taken outside of Manchester Arena- after winning championships)