Early in 2017 after a long study break having completed my bachelor studies 21 years earlier in 1998 in the UK, I felt that it was time to continue my studies. I looked at what was on offer and I found Arcada offered a master’s course that ignited an interest in me. After applying and going to the entrance exams I was delighted to be offered a study place starting in the Autumn of 2017. I applied for the part-time master’s studies in International Business Management as I was working full time. You might have also figured out that as I got my bachelor degree in 1998 I am not exactly what you’d call a spring chicken in terms of age, therefore I also have a family which include four children, one of which was only 1,5 years old at the time, also, I had 2 teens and a pre-teen.
So, in addition to working full-time as well as keeping four children alive and provided for, I decided that I would embark on my master’s journey, just to ensure that I really kept busy! To say it was a balancing act would be an understatement. Was it hard? Yes. Was it worth it? Definitely.
During my studies I met various people at various stages of their lives, we shared a lot together. There were babies, changes in family circumstances, people moving house, illness and everything in between. I learnt that everyone had to balance their lives in some way no matter what their circumstances were, and as I had chosen this path I would not make excuses… although someone once said after having their first baby…, that ‘it’s so much harder with a small baby, your kids are older so they are easier’! “Well, not really” was my answer but I realised that everyone had their own struggles and balances and sacrifices to make.
A supportive environment
It was difficult not having any of my family to help me (as they live in the UK), but luckily my husband was understanding and supportive – I would not have managed without his support. I also felt that the lecturers were supportive and clear about deadlines and gave valuable feedback after assignments, which helped understand which areas to develop and so on.
Esther by the sea
With most things it is all about getting the flow and studies was one of those things for me that I needed to be in the mood for, but I also had to take advantage of times when I had the opportunity to study. I also needed to make time to exercise and take care of my health, so I had to be disciplined and motivated which was easy with great study friends. It’s not easy rushing from work early on a Thursday and Friday after a full day’s work for a full evening of studies especially in the long dark winter… but somehow the evenings always energised me. The studies, the lecturers and guest speakers.
The importance of study friends
The harder thing was when the contact lessons stopped, and it was time to do the thesis… but our group formed WhatsApp’s groups to keep each other motivated and met for lunch to discuss ideas we had. But studying at home was a challenge as the home is a little nosier and more distracting and going to the library just was not an option for me. So, after 9 pm I would work on my thesis until midnight most evenings, allowing myself the occasional weekend off to be with my family or friends, many of whom I had totally abandoned and maybe they did not recognise me anymore! Some study mates took a few months off from work which was probably a good idea. However, it wasn’t really an option for me, so I continued with working in the day and studying at night.
Then Covid arrived right in the middle of writing my thesis but it wasn’t a problem converting to Zoom for meetings and I enjoyed watching my study mates present their thesis and shared with them the joy of finishing understanding fully the sacrifices, late nights, blood, sweat and tears that had been made to get there. When it was my turn I felt relief that I had done it but also a sense of bitter sweetness as the studies were over and I would miss studying and the comradery of my study mates. After all, we were a close group of around 30 for three years. I also felt I would miss the lecturers whose knowledge and practical experience had inspired me to want to learn more and continue to learn more.
Esther Saraste graduating from Arcada
So, academically my career with Arcada has ended but I will continue to build on what I have learnt and continue studying and lifelong learning. My thesis (External link) taught me so much about myself and I have integrated what I have learnt in my personal and working life. The best takeaway from doing my thesis would be to chose a subject you are interested in and love rather than what you think you should do, as you will get more value for doing something that motivates you. You will have a love-hate relationship with your thesis, so love it from the beginning.
It is with fondness that I will remember my study days and felt that after gaining so much from my studies that I wanted to be an ambassador for Arcada and help/advise in any way I can.