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  • Writer's pictureCláudia Coelho

The end of an era – graduating from EPS

The happiness of graduating and the reminiscence of two happy study years, followed by the uncertainty of the question “What now?” debated by an EPS student.

I officially started the programme on the 25th September 2019 and, on June 9th 2021, I received an email from my Masters’ coordinator in Barcelona, saying that my last grade was up. I was, finally, a Master in European Politics and Society! Looking back on these last two years, the time I spent being an EPS student passed definitely much quicker than expected. Of course, this speed can be ‘measured’ differently depending on what stage of your student life you find yourself in. Exam periods always seemed endless. On the contrary, class time can go either quite fast if you really enjoy the subject and the professor’s methods are interesting, or at a ‘tortoise pace’ if one is trying to stay awake in one of those 9am 3 hour long classes.

A truly European experience:

The last two years were about more than just obtaining a diploma and a degree. For me, it meant moving out from my small coastal town in Portugal, packing my bags with dreams, desires, excitement for the unknown and all the normal fears a 23-year-old could feel, to then hop on a plane after having said my goodbyes to family and friends. It also meant adapting to an ever-changing world, given the pandemic. Needless to say, Covid-19 affected everyone’s studies, and graduating in such times was… different. As I finished my last year at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), any type of face-to-face graduation ceremony was cancelled until September. For this reason, being able to proudly show our diplomas on social media while being all together in a fancy ceremony, was not possible for me and my colleagues, unfortunately.

Many sweet and dear memories from these two years shall forever be kept in my mind and heart. I  will never forget the happiness of meeting many of my classmates for the first time at a tram stop in Prague, the day trips we did together in the lovely places we lived in, the rainy days while riding a bike in the Netherlands or the academic debates shared around a coffee table. What really made my experience so “EPS” were the people I surrounded myself with, classmates or not. Being this programme, most and foremost, really international, if one aims at, one day, being a good but understandable and flexible policy maker, the experience of living in three different cities and countries is a must! Understanding locals, but also being surrounded by an international community while expressing myself in many different languages, surely prepared me for the professional I aspire to be.

I am immensely grateful to all the professors and academic staff who I crossed ways with in the three universities I was in. Despite being in the same classroom with students and Professors who showed immensely varied cultural and academic backgrounds, I am happy I could always learn with everyone, while still freely discussing my personal point of view in so many class debates under the supervision of excellent open-minded professionals. At this point, perhaps I do regret a few choices of classes I decided to take, or one or two projects I decided to involve myself in, and probably, some papers I wrote under pressure, but it all led me to the point I am at  now.

And now, what does the future hold?

For all of us, a tiring but hopefully rewarding job hunt. Some of my classmates enrolled in other Masters, some were admitted in PhDs, others went back to their home countries, looking for jobs there, others stayed in Barcelona/Leiden/Prague/Krakow as they had future prospects there, some went to other countries and others (like me) went back home to enjoy a well-deserved rest during summer. Personally, I am sending job applications almost every day, and have quite a few plans up my sleeve. But I am a firm believer that everything will come at its right time, and after many fruitful years of attending school, I also feel like I deserve a break. It is okay to not find a job one, two, three or nine months after your graduation. We live in a competitive world and companies are each day more demanding in application processes.

For this reason, I am now grateful for my achievement and for the opportunities I was so lucky to embrace, but the time has come to close this chapter. I am eager to move on, but will do so at my own timing: I trust my skills and will always be ambitious enough to pursue my dreams.



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