Author: Flavia Olivieri -
Starting in the summer of last year I thought I had everything figured out. I had a master’s in Environmental Studies with top marks, I was thinking of a few Ph.D. opportunities. Working full-time, I was unhappy at work which motivated me, even more, to move on with my life.
Fast forward a few weeks, and I was still at my awful job, and I had no Ph.D. offers. The high grades that I once assumed would pave my way now seemed useless. Above all, I wanted to continue learning instead of working in a brain-numbing job. So, towards the end of summer, I applied for MSc Computer Sciences at the University of Bath. I wanted to become proficient at coding and programming, so I could learn how to apply these skills to environmental conservation. I had visited Bath on a university tour when I was 16 and fell in love with the university and the city. The grades required for the BSc were too high for me at the time and as a result, I never applied. But I maintained that special interest in the city, so the chance to do a master’s degree there seemed like a sign.
I accepted my offer during the introduction week, and moved into a new home, marking the beginning of a new chapter. Ten days later I knew that I needed to re-write that chapter. An MSc Computer Science was too far removed from environmental conservation. I didn't feel motivated enough to want to go through with it. The amount of time, effort, dedication, and motivation that I had put into my previous MSc made me realise that I was not in the right mindset for this one. I needed a way out.
Change of plan
Luckily, I found out that I had enough time to convert to a new course. I arranged a meeting with the Director of Studies for MSc Environmental Engineering. We went through the programme together and I felt a huge wave of relief as we spoke. I had found my way out! A way to convert a rash decision and a prospective miserable year into an opportunity. I could grow my existing knowledge and skill-set, and complement the theory with more technical work.
I have not looked back since. The knowledge I gained this year has given me a holistic understanding of the world of environmental conservation. I now understand how engineering can bring together our processes and technologies with nature. I am ready for a range of new jobs.
Out of the ordinary
My story of how I started MSc Environmental Engineering is by no means a conventional, structured, and organised narrative. It does not involve informed decisions, research, and careful consideration. Although doing so will save you a lot of stress and uncomfortable emotions, it is ok not to have your entire life planned out at 23. It is ok to let life guide you, to rethink decisions and change your mind.
The most important thing is to trust your instinct. Whatever journey you choose to embark on, having a positive mindset and a desire to grow from the experience will help you.
An unusual year
This year started and ended in an unusual way. In the beginning, I was trying to piece my life together and somehow found myself living and studying full-time in Bath. At the end of it, I had to escape Bath into self-isolation due to a global pandemic.
Between, I found the sweet spot of living in the most picturesque English city, making friends for life, and equipping myself for the real world.