20Apr2018

WHY YOU SHOULDN’T REGRET TAKING A GAP YEAR – Katerina (RUSSIA)

As International Student Ambassadors’ representative, I receive a bunch of e-mails throughout the semester. I get a lot of questions, starting from vague ones about students’ life to the price of milk and potatoes.

Sometimes it happens that we start a long chat with the guys who contact me. I know about their problems and concerns, and recently I got a couple of e-mails from my pen pals who felt that their applications would get rejected after the interview.

Of course, I hope I’ll see them one day in Tartu, but even if not, I’d like to encourage them and those applicants who are in the same situation never to give up. So, let me tell you one story.

During my last year, back at my university in Russia where I studied journalism, I dreamt of continuing studies in communication field. I was checking out different countries, universities, faculties, their offers, scholarships, and everything related to studies abroad.

I found a very generous programme that offered to support students with more than a sufficient scholarship. That grant obligations bounded 10 universities, and the University of Tartu was one of them. Moreover, through the electronic system, I could have applied for a couple of universities in different countries at the same time.

Inspired, I started preparing. I passed TOEFL, and I collected the documents and whatever else was needed for the application. A couple of days before the final submission deadline, I opened the website and wanted to upload everything in the system. Imagine what I felt like when I figured out that creating the account was no longer possible, because the system had closed two weeks ago.

I was destroyed to say the least of it. I dreamt of studying abroad, and then I just failed. I could barely do anything for a whole month, but I had to force myself to live further.

At that time I was already working for a couple of newspapers in my city, so I concentrated on that. I was writing texts of all genres, including investigations, I attended municipal parliament meetings, I was always in the middle of the citizens’ riots because I specialized in social and political life topics.

Practical experience made me realize that, in fact, I had already known a lot about media and communication. The knowledge I lacked, as I figured out, was related to politics and the policy making process.

I registered for IELTS exam and improved my results, I composed more thorough and accurate motivation letters, I saved some money for the first time abroad – and submitted the documents for Democracy and Governance programme at the University of Tartu.

I was sitting in the office writing a report from city public hearings where angry citizens tried to save a lovely park in suburbs from a construction company that wanted to drive in an ugly grey multi-storey building there.

A new e-mail arrived.

I was admitted!

Right after I finished the report, my editor-in-chief let me go back home so I could enjoy that sunny day and have some rest – because, of course thanks to my screams and shouts, everyone in the office already knew that in a couple of months I would depart for Tartu.

I can’t know what my life would have looked like if I hadn’t missed that deadline for the grant, where I would have been now, what I would be doing. But I definitely don’t regret anything in my life that happened after I received that (almost like Hogwarts’) letter. Now, I’m considering to switch from journalism to a field that is more related to the policy making process, but even if I come back to journalism, I would only thank the university for all the knowledge I got here.

The lesson of the story is as easy as pie – never give up! Sometimes, your failures might be for the better.