Learning for life

Learning for life

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@Paula Dubbink

Columnist Paula Dubbink doesn’t want to leave the University now that her master is almost done, but neither will she continue for a PhD. And that doesn’t sound problematic in her ears.

After two years as an expat, I’d say that first conversations among international students tend to run in patterns. After an exchange of the basics (name-age-countryoforigin-yearsinSweden), the next topic will be the field of study. Whenever I tell that I’m almost done with a master in religion studies, “will you continue for a PhD?” is the follow-up question.
The answer to that one is plain and simple. No. No, I won’t. No. For those who know me, this needs no explanation.

This term, I am to write a 30-ECTS thesis and while the deadline comes closer and closer, I simply see that the length of my thesis is not in any way increasing.

As it is, me and my thesis are in a love-hate relationship, but then without the love.

Ask me to write a 10-page paper on the wives of Muhammed or to study a chapter of Genesis in Hebrew, but please, don’t make me write a thesis. I simply can’t deal with the fact that it has to be over 60 (!) pages long. And then all about the same subject. Who came up with that?

For that reason, I have become a master in procrastination: from baking my own bread to good ol’ Facebook. And if I’m fed up with that, I’ll start ironing my clothes and cleaning my sink. Taking this into consideration, I guess a 4-year-long project might just not be the thing for me at this point.

At the same time, many people seem to assume that this will therefore be the end of my academic life: when you’re done with your MA and don’t continue for a PhD, then you’re finished with University. Not so much, if you ask me.

Indeed, I did go to University one day, many years ago, to get a degree and exactly the fact that I still want to get that, keeps me motivated to finish the thesis. But when I walk through the library and see the shelves filled with books on topics that I haven’t even heard of, it seems that University life has just begun. I get hungry for new knowledge. There is so little I know. And so much to learn.

I want to study more theology. And some more world history. I want to get my Spanish back to an acceptable level. I want to learn some didactics and a course in rhetoric would be nice too. I want to read some feminist studies and sociology, because I feel completely ignorant. And if I ever have studied all that, I want to take a course in Swedish pronunciation so that I can finally pronounce the vowels here in a proper way.

And in Sweden that is all possible, as I’m in the fortunate position of not having to pay tuition fees. I’ll start as soon as possible.

Once my thesis is done.

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