This is an account of how and why I am quitting my masters, and how it can fling my life in different directions.
I am giving up on getting my master’s degree after having finished my coursework and a semester of trying to write a thesis. So far the people’s reaction has been the biggest outcome: my parents are against my choice, most of my friends think I am doing the wrong thing, and maybe worst of all, my advisor does not seem to care. Only my boyfriend and one of my friends understand my situation.
It is not that I do not understand people’s points of view, but for one thing I would be happy if everyone would stop saying it’s a waste of two years of my life. Do they think I have learnt nothing in these two years and only the degree makes my education worthwhile? My degree will be a useless one in the current job market and toxic economic atmosphere anyway. My thesis at its best would be a critical study of media representations of something, and it would probably reflect my disdain for capitalism. What company would like that?
However, everything else aside, the truth is that I do not want to give up. I want to have a master’s degree to flaunt in people’s faces when (if) I’m drunk and in a discussion. But on the other hand, I am a third world citizen studying abroad, in a city as expensive as they come, the immigration laws are ruthless, my scholarship is not extendable, and I cannot make it work with my disinterested advisor. Working on my thesis caused me physical pain and mental torture, and to be honest it was affront at creativity. We are often suggested to follow in the footsteps of others and write like others have already done; the ones who do conform better are rewarded best. “Unless you are a great scholar,” my advisor told us “people will not wish to hear new ideas.”
Graduating, and miraculously finding a job here, would give me a chance at a modestly earned life, with undesirable work conditions, in a field very unrelated to my degree, and a promise of social isolation (All my friends have left or are leaving this country). So even if I managed to somehow push through and graduate the employment chances here are slim.
But quitting my master’s degree will launch me into a life of difficulty, and uncertainty. I might have to go back to my home country and (best case scenario) work at an equally undesirable job, in an atmosphere of censorship and oppression, with (way) more than a dash of gender inequality (on top of it all I would be separated from my boyfriend because he could never get a visa for my country).
My other choice is to begin travelling to a handful of countries that my poor passport can take me to, without money, and with low hopes of being hired anywhere, and slim chances that we might be able to settle somewhere. Yet this plan is the best we have; with uncertainty comes our only chance in coming across something that will change our life for the better or worse.
The problems go on and on, but I won’t continue. I can’t escape the feeling that we have created a world that is unwilling to give space to people so they can live simple, quiet lives. And within this world my best course of action is to graduate, but sometimes you cannot do things even if you try.
Maybe if you have unlimited funds and time you could achieve anything you set your mind on, but I have neither time nor money on my side. This is true for many of us; struggling with choices like this that define our lives, and many times we do not succeed. It is not because we are simply lazy people who did not use our opportunities. Some like me face obstacles in making the best of our opportunity; some never have the privilege of having the opportunity.
The life path I face is unknown to me; it is unstable and that scares me. But I have my boyfriend by my side, and not having to go through it all alone is a big reassurance. Maybe I can find a way to fund a nomad life, maybe I find a decent job somewhere and we will be fine for a while. Who knows what life has in store. What I really wish to do is to make change; find a way to make the world less hostile to humans. At this point I cannot perceive of ways that do not require much money, but it is a good thing to keep in one’s mind.