Axel: I am currently pursuing a Master’s double degree in Global Studies. I worked hard during my Bachelor’s and graduated with honors from my major in political science. Since I had the opportunity to work for different professors and was granted an internship in a research institute during that time, which I enjoyed a lot, I knew I wanted to stay in the field. There was not that one dream job that I was chasing, and there still is not. But I knew I wanted to stick to my guns and go for something closely related to International Relations. I applied for different Master programs and was very lucky to get accepted to all of them. That very privileged situation allowed me to choose by myself. So it came down to a very specialized program in Peace and Conflict Studies which rationally to me seemed like the better fit and that was my number one priority in the first place, and the one in Global Studies. I was taking some days to decide and eventually went for the latter option, despite it being my plan B at first. I knew the Peace and Conflict Studies program would have been the easier way, I had experience in that field before from my undergraduate and one of my previous jobs. And I knew I would like it, but I doubted if it would truly satisfy me.
I once heard somebody saying that if you read three books on a certain topic, you gather more knowledge in that topic than 99% of humankind. But to become the smartest one in that field, even reading all books in the world might not be enough. I do not know if that is true but it points to a very valid point, you have to decide wisely whether to go for the niche, potentially becoming an expert in your field outshining everyone else, or whether to accept you will not be the best and brightest in one field, but having solid skills in many fields.
There is no doubt that both ways are tough and full of obstacles and probably there is no royal road to making that decision. But I always seek the challenge and am genuinely intrigued by a well-considered degree of risk. So, I turned down the amazing offer from that British university for Peace and Conflict Studies and went for Global Studies. I was in Belgium for a year and if the pandemic had not kicked in, I would now be in Australia. Circumstances have it I ended up continuing my studies at a Danish university, while unfortunately having to study remotely at the moment. But nonetheless I learn so much new stuff, meet great people from all over the world and have classes in economics, philosophy, anthropology, European studies, International Relations, history, law, political science, development studies, you name it.
Of course, not everything is perfect. I will most likely not graduate as top of my class like in my undergrad and it might even be harder to get a job with such a broad skill set. But there we have the challenge again. Some say ‘no risk, no fun’, others ‘no pain, no gain’. And while I want to be neither reckless nor overly naïve, there is some truth to both sayings.