It was a spur-of-the moment decision. A life-altering, spur-of-the-moment decision. I had merely toyed with the idea in the past when it would occasionally pop up in my head, before I would push it back into the recesses of my mind due to the financial, familial and personal responsibilities and lifestyle I had become accustomed to for the past 20 years or so. Yet in the April-May timeframe of this year, if my ageing memory serves me correctly, I decided to go for my Masters degree and began the long internet search on universities and masters programs which would lead me to my next phase in life.
Fast forward to September and after being offered admission at a number of universities, I arrived at NCL after accepting to enrol in its MA Media and Journalism program. I must say it is a bit weird being a student again after so many years. Looking at all the energetic young people walking around, one cannot help but feel a bit out of place, at least at the start of the year. And when I see my fellow students, sometimes I try to remember where I was when I was their age, what I was thinking, what my plans were, my hopes and ambitions for life, before entering the workplace and the battles and experiences which have shaped who I am. Was I starry-eyed? Was I an idealist? I guess in some ways I still am -an idealist that is- although I’d like to think that the years have sobered me up to the other side of reality, and clearly earned me more than a few grey hairs.
Rude awakenings -literally and figuratively- every so often jolt me into this new reality. This includes incidents during Freshers Week like seeing people out in fancy dress; oh how times have changed! Or waking up to the kids yelling on the street as they stumble back to accommodation from the bars in the dead of the night. Or discussions like the one I had with a fellow postgrad, who is a friend of my flatmate. He told me he was 23 years old, and upon learning of my age, he stated “Ah... you are about my father’s age”. How kind of him to point that out! So if I wasn’t feeling old before that, you can imagine how I feel now.
Yet if I could impart a single piece of advice or two to my colleagues, I would say savour the moment and embrace life with all that it has to offer, as the years will start to pass faster than you realize it. Also, and just as important, make it a point to always keep in touch with all the wonderful people you meet while you are here. Future years will show you how significant this will turn out to be.
On a lighter note, if you see me, basically a greying older man, carrying his school backpack and attempting to rush to class because he’s running late again, be nice and open the way for me. And no, I’m still not telling you my age!