Second Year: Building the bridge

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Hanging out with David Hume in Edinburgh.

As a wise man once said: “Another year gone. And I must trouble you with an old man’s wheezing waffle before we sink our teeth into our delicious feast.”

It was 368 days ago that I wrote my first year summary blog, reflecting upon my first year at University of Stirling. I am pleased to say that it was well received, and so I felt I should provide the sequel in this four-part saga.

If possible, second year has flown by even quicker than the first. To think we are standing on the threshold of the second half of university is pretty daunting, but incredibly exciting.

This year has been a bridge-builder; thoughts are turning towards that mad time that comes after the dissertation has been handed in – the world of work. And although I have a slightly clearer picture in my head as to where I want to go after I graduate, the route is still not entirely fleshed out.

Once again – and I cannot seem to fault them – Brig have been incredible this year, and becoming a section editor has definitely allowed me to thoroughly enjoy being part of the team. If you ever feel like trying your hand at newspaper editing, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Their work ethic is second to none, and their devotion to the paper is impeccable – even when their mettle is thoroughly tested. It has been a tough semester behind the scenes, but I am very pleased that the team has stuck through it, and produced excellent content.

This semester also gave some of us at Brig the chance to take a journey to Newcastle, to learn all sorts of journalistic skills from the Press Association experts. It was an invaluable experience, and a “grand day out!”

Keeping on the journalism line, I have to say this year’s journalism modules have been superb. JOUU9A3 and JOUU9J4 have taught me so much about the actual art of being a story-teller and news-gatherer.

What has been great about -J4 has been learning about the actual writing side of the industry (which, if you think about it, kind of helps in journalism). The reason for this is that my true aim has always been to be a fiction writer, and discovering how journalism can boost your creative writing was a great lesson to learn.

Myself and the Boss having a" good time" in Rev. bar, Newcastle.

Myself and the Boss having a “good time” in Rev. bar, Newcastle.

At this moment I have to thank Dr. Idrees Ahmad of Pulse, for giving me a chance to ask questions about my career plans, and for his advice. I also have to recommend Pulse to anyone looking for a toothpick account of international issues and debates. Also to Adrian Hadland and Eddy Borges-Rey for doing likewise.

Lastly, twice this academic year I have been given the opportunity to work with the BBC. First was for the referendum, and the second was just 10 days ago for the General Election.

On both occasions I was working as a Stringer (a kind of freelance reporter), firing back news stories, results, and updates to the BBC HQ – one of my photographs even got featured on the BBC Website. It was a privilege to work with the BBC team at the Falkirk counting station, and I definitely learned a heck of a lot about journalism on the job.

Spring semester has been the best semester so far, I would say. Bizarrely it was the one semester I had been dreading since looking at the course Prospectus two years ago. Great Political Thinkers (POLU9PG) was an outstanding module, in which I learned so much, and felt like I was really in a subject I would like to take forward.

Getting the chance to read the original texts from Marx, Hume, Hobbes, Rousseau and others has really opened my eyes to other possibilities for my career beyond simply writing. Indeed, it is now my intention to write my final dissertation on political theory, and take the subject on to a PostGrad in Political Theory in International Relations.

On the back of this sudden surge in academic thinking, I have literally been filling my head with everything I can lay my hands on. My bookshelves now consist of works from Hemingway, Marx, Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, Dante’s Inferno, Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, and the Elder Edda, to name but a few.

On top of that, BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time podcast has been one of the most useful resources I have had to hand; the archives of which I am about 50 per-cent of the way through. Through it I have learned about the Mexican Revolution, the Earth’s Core, Sappho, and taken greater interest in architecture. I would highly recommend it!

This all culminated in my recent blog about education, as it has become my opinion this semester that learning is not all about grades, a CV, a job; it can also be about self-fulfilment, and about giving yourself the tools to make whatever decision you eventually make in deciding your career path.

Now, away from all the academic stuff, and on to my first powerlifting meet. Last semester I made myself the challenge of competing in a powerlifting competition. One or two came and went, and I basically chickened out.

Then came a meet in March, and I decided to go ahead with it. I was ecstatic to achieve a 410kg total, and to deadlift 185kg – over 400 pounds! It was an excellent experience, and one I hope to live again next year.

Powerlifting meet in Dundee.

Powerlifting meet in Dundee.

And finally, the widest expanse of water that has to be crossed now: the North Atlantic.

In August I will be flying off to the good ol’ US of A to study for a full 5 months at Salisbury University. The actual recognition that I am indeed going to be living in another country for semester has not quite dawned on me yet! Safe to say I am really looking forward to going, and cannot wait to soak up more knowledge about the wider world.

So, where are we now? What are the career plans? At the moment, the “plans” are still quite fluid, and I hope to keep them that way. One option is the writing and teaching route – the latter a career I wanted to take up when I was a kid.

I would like to go into lecturing, giving me the chance to continue my research, and perhaps go on to do a PhD. Yet options are still open, one being the police force, which would definitely provide inspiration for plot lines!

There are so many people who I would like to personally tribute in this blog, but I reckon they know who they are.

If there is anything I will take away from this second year it is always seek to better yourself. Whether you want to get more intelligent (and don’t feel bad for wanting to), or get healthier, or stronger, or build up contacts and put yourself on the first step of the ladder, never stop dreaming.

The possibilities are endless, and the world is your oyster.

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