Hi, I am Dave. I am 25 years old, from Newcastle in the UK.

I am about to finish my studies in international politics and foreign affairs, and I don’t know what to do next.

I am considering three options;

  1. I could start applying for jobs and going for job interviews, mainly in London.
  2. I could continue straight away with the master’s studies,
  3. I could take a break, do different things, and then take up the studies again or try to get a job.

I’ve been talking about this with my parents, sister, and some of my friends. My parents think I should go for the master’s studies, get finished and then find out what to do. The thing is that I don’t know what I will focus on. There is nothing in this subject that interests me more. In addition, I’m pretty fed up with studying in Newcastle, the same people around me all the time and living with my parents.

Most of my friends think I should start looking for a job, get some experience and find out if this profession is something for me. They think I could then return to my studies after working for a couple of years.

Brothers

My sister thinks that I should take a year off, the option that my parents like the least. (I’m sure she suggests this because she wants to do it herself, and now I will do it first so our parents will be prepared when she breaks the same news to them in a couple of years.)

My sister knows me very well, and she knows that I am bored with the daily life and routines here in Newcastle. Both of us feel that everything is kind of predictable.

You can close your eyes, turn off the brain because nothing new will happen, and no challenges need to be dealt with. Everything here is small, nothing new happens, and you hardly ever see any new people. When we were children, we would sit looking at the pictures in travel brochures for hours, dreaming away and making priority lists of where to go. When I went to bed at night, I would close my eyes and think of what I could do, hear, taste and experience if I stayed for a while in these foreign places. I often get worried, almost scared, thinking about how different and strange it would be not having the usual people and things around me. How I could deal with daily life issues without communicating in English, maybe I would meet the “wrong” people, and I could get into trouble.

On the other hand, my impatience was growing, and I had already spoken with some people who had been abroad, either as students on scholarships or as travellers. All of them thought I should go abroad for at least a year. “There is always time later to take up the studies again.” “The studies will only take two years, so you will still be young when you start applying for jobs”, they would say. So, I have been quite confused for a while. Whom should I listen to? What would be the advantages and disadvantages of the different options?

Decision

Would I spoil my future professional career if I took a break? On the other hand, if I didn’t take a break, would I regret it for the rest of my life? Walking around in grey and foggy England and being dissatisfied for not having taken the chance, I get more bitter and angry at myself every day.

Once, at a meeting with my tutor at university, he asked me about my plans. I told him that one of my ambitions was to work in an international organisation, for example, the United Nations, travel around and work in a global environment. He asked me if I had any experience living abroad or being exposed to different cultures. He pointed out that this would be important in the “business” I wanted to be a part of, and people with experiences from stays in foreign countries would be preferred. I was sure that he was going to recommend that I continued with the master studies right away, but to my surprise, he suggested that I should take at least a year off, to see something new and to discover new cultures and myself.” We are not going anywhere, so when you return, we will be ready to wish you welcome into our Master’s programme, he said, laughing.

Do it

After the tutorials, I went back to the library to study more, but that was impossible. My head was full of new ideas, and I realised that the chat with my tutor made a difference. I read the same sentence repeatedly in the article I was studying without understanding what I was reading about. My head was about to blow up with the decision I had finally made. What a relief! Now, I had to concentrate on passing the last exams, telling my parents and my friends that I would spend next year abroad, and start the preparations. WHERE, WHAT and HOW would have to wait, but the decision was made. A week after the exams, I had no set ideas, and I was aimlessly surfing the net.

Trinity College Cert TESOL course in Madrid came up. Could that be something? Teaching English and travelling the world at the same time?

I couldn’t immediately see myself as a teacher, but maybe because I had no idea what that would be like? So I looked closer at this web page and felt relief while falling asleep.