Aberdeen Learnings

Going Back to School: Things I’ve Learned

It’s been quiet on the blog here and it’s even surprised me.  I have a dozen post ideas to share.  Places we’ve explored, observations I’ve made from living in Aberdeen.  Right now they are all stuck in my head because something more pressing has taken over my life… my studies.

Before moving to Aberdeen, I had decided to enroll in a Masters program, specifically a Masters of Science in Digital Marketing.  I wanted something to focus on during our time here.  I had always regretted not doing some form of higher education while living in Paris and this was my second chance in a way.  I wanted to take a hobby and turn it into a potential career.  I had already learned quite a bit from digital marketing through running this blog and wanted to dive deeper into it.

The first semester is finally over.  All 12 weeks have just flown by.  Classes were Mondays and Tuesdays from 10-4 but the work didn’t stop there.  I spent about another 20 hours a week reading the materials, completing small assignments and working on the group and individual projects.  In addition to topics like: Google Adwords, SEO, Facebook Advertising, Content Marketing, Digital Campaigns, HTML/CSS, Photoshop and A/B Testing, I’m also learning so much about myself.

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Here is just a glimpse of what I’ve learned from going back to university in my 30s.

It’s the quickest way to feel old.

Last time I was in university was 9 years ago.  Time sure does fly.  And the students around me, those born in the 90s look so young.  I haven’t noticed many generational differences.  But I feel old when I’m finding it easier to talk to and relate to the people in my class that are in their 40s.

Lesson: Just connect with the people you connect with regardless of age. Who cares!

I’m smarter than I think

I didn’t realize until later that quitting my engineering career would chip away at my confidence.  For 3 years it seemed I really wasn’t using my technical brain and losing my some of my intelligence.  Perhaps I’m exaggerating, but if you don’t use it, you lose it, right?  Although I can’t neglect the fact that during that time I was working on my creative side: through writing, photography and learning French.  But part of me missed those technical challenges, being the go-to person who others ask for help and advice.  I’ve rediscovered this recently.  I was scared I wouldn’t succeed in this program since I didn’t have a background in marketing, but it turns out I know more than I give myself credit for.  And I can learn quickly.

Lesson:  Be confident and don’t underestimate yourself

My engineering mindset is both a blessing and a curse

Not everyone in my class thinks the same.  And whether it’s engineering or my own character, it’s obvious I approach problems, challenges and tasks quite differently than most of my classmates.  In the time a classmate next to me is thinking, discussing and pondering how to approach the in-class task like using HTML to rearrange pictures on a page.  I’ve already tried 5 different ways of doing it before landing on the correct one through trial-and-error.

Things are pretty black and white to me.  There’s a wrong and right answer in my mind.  Yet, that is a curse when studying something like marketing.  It’s impossible to get 100%, even 90% or 80% in this program is beyond reach.  I need to get over that and realize there are no black and white answers.  The 30-page report I just submitted may yield me a D or an A and I have absolutely no clue how I might fare.  I really really want an A.  My over-achieving aspirations have officially taken over.

Lesson:  Be patient with those around you and yourself.

I haven’t lost my drive

It’s been a long time since I sacrificed fun things to work on something all night.  I hate saying no to coffees or skipping out on the gym.  But it makes me happy I’ve found my drive again. The motivation to succeed, to learn, to turn this into something big.  I love deadlines, and that’s what gets me going.

Lesson: You got it in you – just believe

Yet… I procrastinate more than I’d like 

Even with a deadline looming, I still manage to binge watch The Crown on Netflix then read about the English monarchy and their sordid history on Wikipedia.  My knowledge that Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are second cousins doesn’t exactly serve me right now and won’t help toward my assignment.

I’m finding it a challenge to balance my days, be productive and not let things fall through the cracks.  Last time, I was in university, I had no one but myself to take care of, I didn’t have a house to run, or a few extra pounds to lose.  I didn’t have a blog, or want to do yoga and meditate.  I didn’t live in a new city or country to explore and enjoy, nor a third language I wanted to maintain.  There’s a lot more pressures and personal interests 10 years later and finding the right balance to stay sane is still a work in progress.

Lesson:  Even in finding balance, no one is perfect.  Don’t expect to be perfect yourself.

Life after my Masters… another work in progress

People ask me: what will you do with this degree once you’re done?  Ideally, I would love to turn it into a portable career.  Use this knowledge to work as a freelance social media manager, consultant or marketer.  The field is so vast and there so many opportunities.  But really I don’t know and feel I still don’t know enough yet, and it scares me.  I don’t want all this work to go to waste but it is scary to change careers, for me it’s been harder than quitting my job back in Canada.  The real challenge now is how to trying to make a living from it.  Maybe I’ll get a job to gain experience before going out on my own.  Perhaps I just need to build the confidence and do it.  Get over my fear of failure.   Whatever it is, I’ll be sharing it here.

Lesson:  Start now, perfect later.  It will all be revealed when it’s meant to

Going back to school has been such a rewarding and eye-opening experience.  It’s made my time in Aberdeen bearable through the short days at this time of year.  It’s given me something to focus on.

And something that has plagued me for the past 3 years, I finally have answer to the question: so what do you do? 

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