Gap Year​

Happy Friday Everyone 🙂

So leading from my last blog-post, once I got into Kings College London, I decided to take a gap year. For me, the exam period was probably one of the most stressful events in my life, just because I’ve never known how to manage or control stress. Once results were out, I passed all but one exam (which I had to retake). Although I passed the exam and was awarded a 2:1, I was very unsettled. I couldn’t sleep properly, my hair was falling out, and I was always anxious about everything. This really affected me, and there was absolutely no way I could do my masters with this mentality. So, after returning from a family holiday, I decided to take a gap year. I deferred my entry and worked full-time. By doing so, I would have a break from education; I would find myself again and just relax. Because out of everything, I just wanted to relax.

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During my Gap year, I worked full-time as a Teaching Assistant (TA) in a special needs school (my current job). I chose to work as a TA because I loved working with children, and I really wanted to know whether I made the right decision studying mental health or perhaps go down the route of educational psychology (I also wanted to be an educational psychologist lol). I’ve always been interested in young people and the importance of education, but I was very passionate about mental health (I was secretly conflicted). As we all know, doing a Masters is NOT cheap, and the last thing I wanted to do is to spend £10k doing a Masters, to later realise I made a mistake. It was imperative for me to take the gap year, work with children to understand where my interest came from, and then reconfirm whether I made the right choice.

I love working with children, and up until working as a TA in a special needs school, I enjoyed working with those who had learning difficulties. It’s crazy because I didn’t know what to expect. I was quite nervous and very apprehensive, but once I started to understand Autism, the emotional and behavioural difficulties it came with, and most importantly seeing progress in the children I was working with, I loved my job! It gave me great job satisfaction. I was able to get an insight into their background, and soon realised what I was interested in. I was eager to explore how traumatic childhood experiences (this could be bereavement, depression, anxiety, self-harm, abuse, stress etc.) could have an effect on a child’s learning and mental wellbeing. I was equally fascinated to understand how a clinical psychologist could support such vulnerable children/young people through this transition (childhood to adulthood). I was confused as to what route to take, but then I just thought “Why can’t I combine the two?”. It took me about nine months to finally confirm my decision to study mental health, but to specialise in early detection in children and adolescence (mainstream or SEN) experiencing early onset of mental health. Once my gap year was over, I was SO ready to do my Masters. It was precisely the same feeling I had after my placement year; I was energetic, motivated, enthusiastic, excited and eager to learn more. And that was the best decision I made for myself.

Besides all of that, I was able to find myself and found the true definition of self-love and self-worth. It’s so hard to explain, but I was seriously a lost soul. I didn’t know what I wanted, what made me happy and what made me sad. I was on a personal journey to ‘live my best life’ (I hate that phrase, but it fitted in well lol). I was able to travel and visit six different countries, celebrate my 25th Birthday in Iceland, attended events related to mental health to help stay in tune, and went back to church. I was mentally and emotionally A LOT happier with myself and how my life was slowly changing. I was ready for the next chapter in my life and the challenges it would bring.
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ADVICE: For anyone out there who wants to do a Masters but feels as though they are not ready to commit to it just yet, especially straight after your degree – I would encourage you to take a gap year. At least apply to your chosen course, get accepted, and then defer your entry. This break will enable you to venture into different things (work, travel, volunteer opportunities), and give you the much-needed space to think about whether postgraduate study is for you. Only take this break if you have EVERY intention to go back into education. Everyone’s circumstances are different; I know a lot of people who took 1-3 years out before going back, and I knew a few who didn’t return but went on to do something different (which is not a bad thing too). Doing a Masters is not for everyone – the commitment and sacrifices you would have to make is mentally challenging. I would strongly advise you to DO YOUR RESEARCH and BE 100% CERTAIN it is what you want to do:

1). Review the modules within the MSc – does it interest you? Does the MSc come with placement opportunities?
2). Are you willing to do volunteer work while completing your masters, to give yourself a better chance of securing a job after you finish?
3). What type of jobs can you get into once you have completed the MSc?
4). Doing a Masters is NOT the same as doing a Degree. Will you work part-time? Or will you devote yourself entirely to the Msc (i.e. Considering to work at all or work part-time)?

Perhaps attend a few open days? So that you can have the opportunity to network with other students who have done an MSc? (Just to give you an idea of the postgraduate lifestyle). Or, try to email the appropriate course leader to gain more information about the course. I was 100% certain that I wanted to further my education, and took a gap year to gain experience and at the same time be sure that the master course was the right one for me. I would hate for anyone to do a Masters and regret it later.

I hope this all makes sense! Anyone interested in doing a Masters, and would like more advice, feel free to message me!

 

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