Still the degree for me

High hopes and enthusiasm versus essays and deadline pressures is enough to make anyone question their love for their subject, but Gabrielle Brucciani has realised her degree is worth the stresses

Gabrielle Brucciani

Coffee = essay fuelInstagram: mas_fotokopi

“So proud of myself for yesterday,” I beamed as my less-than-interested friend sat on my coffee table, (apparently chairs aren’t the done thing nowadays.) They looked up. Wow. Making the most of actually having their attention for once, with a confident flick of my hair and a pause for dramatic effect, I began: “So. I got up early and made it to a coffee shop for 9. I had an essay so I stayed there all day, and managed to write 1800 words on a book that I didn’t actually read, all in time to go and see a play and send the essay off two hours before the actual deadline!” I lay back in my chair, a smug smirk on my face.

“Don’t you do that all the time?” was the only reply. I laughed, spluttered a protest, and, in the end, managed to wring some praise out of them. All the time? No. This was an impressive feat of endurance and productivity. I had done something exceptional, and I deserved to be praised.

But after they had gone and I was left staring at my empty coffee cup, it dawned on me. They kinda had a point. But let’s rewind a couple of years. It was uni application time and as I tossed around ideas of Law, History of Art, Philosophy, etc., I realised I was a bit stuck. I impossibly wanted to do everything! My cousin was studying languages and I’d always liked them at school, so, at a bit of a loss, I decided to check out the course, and boy was I glad I did. Guaranteed fluency in two or more languages? Chatting being an actual part of the course? And, on top of that, studying works that would allow me to touch upon Politics, History and all those other things I was scared to miss out on? Yes please.

And that’s how I chose a languages degree: I wanted to study something that was broad and diverse (it’s not all glam, grammar, and Google Translate), something that would let me meet people from all over the place, and something that would let me travel (very very important). But unless I’m one of those annoying open day salesmen, why am I telling you this? Fast forward to the empty coffee cup.

"If anything, the negativity of deadlines pushes me to remember the positive aspects"

As I sat there staring into said cup, I realised that my life wasn’t quite the glamorous picture I had painted in my mind. Rather, 3am essay crises, reading ’til my eyes hurt and translating medieval texts were the cold reality that had become my norm. Instead of spending time using my language skills and “absorbing the culture”, copious deadlines were leaving me sleep-deprived in random libraries. In simple terms, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. But as I sat there, I also thought: would I change my course? Would I quit it altogether? And I realised that no, I would not. Because whilst I hate the pressure and the deadlines, I still love my subject. Those deadlines don’t define my subject. I still love the thrill of learning a new word, of eavesdropping on random people’s conversations, of finding out what people ate in fourteenth century Italian courts one day and watching Nouvelle Vague films the next. If anything I understand my subject better and love it all the more for that. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s all about perspective. Yes, I absolutely hate writing essays, I hate being expected to write a full-blown commentary on 30 second video clips, and I hate people expecting me to be fluent in a language that I only started a year ago. But I still love speaking it, I still love being able to be curious about anything and everything and being able to find a way to tie it into my subject (watching Netflix in a foreign language counts as work right?). If anything, the negativity of deadlines pushes me to remember the positive aspects. I guess it’s partly about mindset and partly about the fact that I study a pretty cool subject. And with that thought of perspective in mind, I’ll see you next year as I sit sipping coffee on an Italian piazza. Because yes, that too is part of my course