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Judy Garland had it right all along

The holidays are officially over.

This phrase has probably been whirling around the heads of those going back to work or preparing for the coming semester. It seems so definitive it’s almost deafening. It’s not all dread and drudge, however! The Christmas season has been a time for recuperation, reflection, relaxation, regeneration: a time of looking back at the hectic year that was 2013 and thinking about the future, making our way in the world, and being content with and proud of the choices that have led us to where we stand now.

New year’s resolutions are, for me at least, usually a whimsical notion which lead to nothing except guilt for not having achieved them. This year, however, I have decided that I will simply try to be as present in my own life as I possibly can. Present mentally, of course. It can be so easy to drift off into a routine of doing the same mundane things day-in, day-out without actually feeling anything. Being present in my life is something that I can only benefit from, and in turn allows me to be a better daughter, sister, partner, friend, student, and whatever other roles I hold in life. One can only aspire to be a better version of themselves. Judy Garland had it right all along:

Always be a first-rate version of yourself instead of a second-rate version of someone else.

Nowadays one can become very disillusioned with what the media reports is expected of us. Perpetuating the notion that students should begin their tertiary education with a Bachelor, move on to a Master and finish with a PhD in a topic that is “useful” to the economy. Who has the right to say that any person should follow a curriculum which predetermines their future whether they want it or not? Where is the academic or social freedom that students crave? Why do we not have the ability to choose how we lead our lives without the pressure of having to find a well-paying job directly after we emerge from a programme? Why is it that one cannot simply follow their heart and study simply to better oneself, broaden one’s horizons and become that first-rate version of themselves?

Choosing to study at the University of Jyväskylä has been a life changing experience for me. Coming from a small Irish town, studying for my Bachelor in another small town and moving to a city which feels like a home away from home has most definitely made me feel like I have achieved something great in 2013. The year has definitely been hectic, but I can say with all honesty that I have never experienced as much personal growth, met as many wonderful and knowledgeable people, and felt as much at home as I have in Jyväskylä. Although I am still finding the language somewhat of a struggle, I have found the whole experience to be extremely enriching. It not only showed me that I can change but showed me the kind of person I want to and, most importantly, can be.

The programme has enabled me to meet the most inspiring and hard-working people, for which I will be eternally grateful. I know that from this I will be able to emerge from this two-year programme a better and well-rounded person with amazing friends and extraordinary memories. I have not only experienced personal growth, but also professional. It has let me see that my future not only holds one path but has many. That is the exquisite beauty of education, one can never have learned enough, have seen enough or experienced enough. The easy freedom of knowing that one’s direction in life is not predetermined is relieving and invigorating, yet of course can be daunting!

I know, I will never regret the decision I made to come here, to be a part of a group of people that will doubtless go on to do great things and continue to be an inspiration for others, and to see the beauty and live in the vast expanse that is Finland.

An adventure like this is something to be relished, a dream come true. Make it your reality, too.

Apply here before February 14th: https://www.jyu.fi/hum/laitokset/musiikki/en/studies/mmt/Application

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