In this post, MSc in Sustainable Energy Systems student Ire-Oluwa Adegoke, describes the challenges and rewards of returning to education after working in industry.
The energy sector’s landscape was changing. New, good opportunities were springing up in the renewables space. It became clear that for me to properly navigate these evolving changes and become properly positioned to be a thought leader, returning to school was a better option than changing jobs.
It was less than a month after applying for the Sustainable Energy Systems (MSc.) course that the wonderful email of “Congratulations! We are pleased to offer you an admission….” was sent to my email box. After a few more months, my funding was sorted, as I secured the British Government‘s prestigious Chevening scholarship. It became clear that I would be back in the classroom in a few months.
In my ideal plan, I had always imagined that I would have a great one to two months break to clear my head before resuming graduate studies. However, this was not the case because I was wrapping up an important project with my employer. Eventually, I had only a few days before packing up my belongings and flying into the United Kingdom.
During this pre-transition period, I receive several emails from the Admission Office, School of Engineering, the African desk, and other offices relating to webinars, websites, videos, and other resources that detailed all the important documents and information required to safely arrive in the country. Due to my schedule at that time, I could not join the webinar session for African students, however, I watched the recording that was sent to me. Also, I regularly checked the Engineering and Newly Admitted students‘ Facebook groups to ensure that I got all useful information and asked questions if necessary. The staff managing the groups responded very promptly which made it easy for me to follow through the discussions.
Upon arrival, I thought that I would find a good flat very easily and spend the time to tour the city and do some readings before schoolwork got into full gear after Welcome Week. Little did I know that searching for a flat could be time–consuming and stressful especially if you are new to a city. One of the interesting experiences I had was a flat viewing close to St. Patrick Square. After the viewing, the agent asked us to convene at the ground floor, she used an app on her phone to randomly select the chosen three individuals among the eight of us that visited the flat. This funny and interesting experience continues to remain an unforgettable part of my transition experience. On the other hand, Welcome Week was an exciting time to get into the mood of student life, make new friends, and settle into schoolwork in a gentle sloping manner. I particularly found the Engineering “Meet and Greet” and the course orientation very informative about the exciting journey ahead.
The classes started gradually and became more intense in the first four weeks. In the classroom, I discovered that having professional, industry experience was useful to understand some of the lectures. However, I identified gaps in my knowledge and the need to revise some concepts. Thankfully, the course notes were largely well presented, a good number of the recommended texts were available online and the library was a good space to study and meet people. Over time, things got better and I got a better grasp of the lectures, assignments, the environment, and the culture.
Overall, it was a challenging but supportive transition from professional work into more work in the university. The availability of the lecture capture on Learn was particularly useful in personal study. My only wish was that I got more hints into the course work before resumption and maybe knew about the difficulty of getting an off-campus accommodation. Lastly, my education at the University of Edinburgh has been a transformational experience.