On New Years Eve of 2015, I knew exactly how 2016 would pan out. After spending my Christmas break with family and friends back home in Edinburgh, I would return to Belgium for a second semester and eventually move back to Edinburgh later that year. I knew that when I returned, I would start to complete my final year at my home University. Everything seemed so certain. Of course, I had a couple of surprises along the way, a bundle of resits meant I prolonged my Erasmus year an extra two months and I managed to do a lot of unexpected travelling in my summer holidays.
This year seems different.
Finishing my degree & Pursuing Postgraduate Studies
I'm currently in the library completing my 2nd course assignment essay due on the 16th of January. After this period is over, I'll be spending most of my time here over the next few months either preparing for classes, writing my dissertation and studying for my April/May exams. Definitely one of the downsides of a year abroad, only my 4th year of University counts towards my final degree grade, compared to grades over 3rd and 4th year for most of my friends here.
My current aim is to graduate on the 6th of July outside McEwan hall with the friends I've been working hard for 4 years with, clutching our law degrees and optimistic about the journey ahead. This is also an area I'm very apprehensive about. I have no idea what's going to happen after I graduate.
Being abroad for my 3rd year of University meant I caught the well-known 'Erasmus travel bug'. I'm desperate to go abroad again for postgraduate studies. Thankfully, my chosen degree path means it is logical to pursue studies abroad, but the question of where and which type of degree is constantly on my mind.
I grew up wanting to be the person on the news channel reading out the headlines. As the years went by and I began to study Modern Studies at school, and furthermore with the knowledge of my law degree, I started to understand the content of those headlines. In my final year of high school, I was adamant on studying Psychology at University and eventually becoming a psychologist for Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. Whilst studying in Belgium, I attended a UN Peacekeeping conference in Brussels and studied modules on humanitarian/security law, terrorism and corporate/transnational crime. My focus has always been on war, security and current affairs.
I'm looking at studying a Masters in International Security after I graduate. I'm uncertain on whether to take a political approach to the degree, or continue my legal path and pursue an LLM. An ideal degree programme would allow me to partake in an internship towards the end of the degree, as opposed to a thesis, which I'm currently writing on EU counter-terrorism. My location preferences change every week. At the beginning of my thought-process, I was set on moving to Barcelona. Last month, I was looking into moving to Paris to study at Sciennes Po and now I'm looking at a dual-degree programme in Trento and Pisa in Italy.
To my surprise, Brussels is hosting an EU Studies Fair in the middle of February, where most of my list of potential Universities will be there to answer any questions I have. Coincidentally, the event falls at the same time as the KU Leuven International Welcome Week, so I will be going back to Leuven for a few days in February to attend the studies fair and catch up with a few of my friends in Leuven for a weekend of partying and meeting new people. I'm staying in an AirBnb in one of my favourite streets in Leuven, so that weekend is likely to be my final masters location decider and a well-earned break from studying mid-semester.
As well as my return to Belgium, I'm hoping to do a bit more travelling around Scotland this year. Embarrassingly, I've only ever visited Glasgow and Aberdeen, despite living in Scotland for over 21 years. I'm looking forward to jumping on a bus/train again, like I did in Belgium, and visiting cities such as St Andrews, Inverness and Dundee. In addition, my school friend and I have organised a trip to London and Brighton for a few days once our exams finish in May, then a couple of days after I return, I'm visiting my Dad's 2nd home in Alicante for a week. I'm really excited!
Amongst the scheduled travelling this year, I'm aware my SAAS (Scottish education funding) will stop after I finish my exams in May. Free education and added funding in Scotland has been a real godsend for me. I often tell people I probably wouldn't be working towards a degree if free education wasn't an option in Scotland, due to financial circumstances. Of course, after I complete my degree, any postgraduate studies will be funded entirely (or mostly) by myself.
At the end of 2016, I bit the bullet and went to my first ever job interview. It's bizarre thinking I have been employed since the age of 15 without having to participate in an interview, so I'm really glad I encouraged myself to do it. Even if I didn't receive a job offer, I thought it would be a great confidence booster and trial run for any professional jobs in the future. To my surprise, I got the job and I start working as an events steward at football matches, concerts and festivals in 2 weeks time! I'm still working at the Pharmacy, but as I'm currently juggling two jobs and my final year of University, I'm really thankful both positions are fully flexible so I can prioritise my studies.
This year will also mark my 5th year of blogging on 'Let's Kiss and Makeup'. Insane! I still remember creating this blog the day I finished my Higher exams, where I spent hours making sure the colour scheme was exactly how I imagined it to be and creating my header on Sumo Paint. I've always loved blogging. There's something so therapeutic about sitting down and writing about experiences and documenting outfits and makeup looks I'm loving at the time.
2015 was my favourite year of blogging. I was invited to attend an Aqua Spin class by a talent recruitment company and it was the first blogging event I ever attended - was a lot of fun too! Towards the end of that year, I collaborated with Tesco and advertised their F&F Halloween clothing range. There is word of an Edinburgh bloggers conference this year, which I'm really excited about. Unfortunately, until I finish my degree, there may be a lack of blog posts, but I'm looking forward to creating new content in the middle of the year and hopefully writing more travel-related posts in the summer and in my new location at the end of the year.
One of my biggest struggles of 2016 and even now, is adjusting my social circle after moving home from an eventful social life in Belgium. I met some of the greatest people I know in Belgium and admittedly, it's hard communicating with friends I care so much about over Skype and Facebook without physically being in their presence. Fortunately, I was able to visit my best friend Una in the Hague when she was working on an internship back in November. Besides returning to Belgium next month, I hope there are more opportunities to re-unite with my Erasmus friends this year. Also, there are more opportunities to meet new people back home in Edinburgh. With my new job starting in 2 weeks and a new group of International buddies at University, I'm optimistic for new friendships this year.
I guess that's an overview of the year ahead. I'm petrified as to what the end of the year will hold, but a part of me is extremely excited to finally start a career path I've been passionate for over the past couple of years. I'll be interested to write a review on this post again at the end of the year, so I'm looking forward to discovering how things pan out!
What are your goals this year? Are there any changes in your life coming up that are making you feel apprehensive, or excited?