It’s perfectly natural to want some time away from education after completing your undergraduate degree. But what is it like coming back to university after some time away? LLM student Kanak Mishra shares their experience of returning for postgraduate study.

Before deciding to pursue a Masters programme abroad, I worked in my home country India for two years. I wanted to gain higher education sector exposure before committing to higher education. I also wanted a break from the five-year rigorous undergraduate coursework for law in India.

When I was working, I used to miss student life a lot. Partying whenever one wants, travelling, engaging in challenging coursework, and not having a routine, were all exciting possibilities I wanted to get back to. However, when I got here, getting back to studying came as a huge challenge. Working for two years had put me out of the practice of reading at a fast pace as a law student ideally should. In the first few days of the semester, I tried to be patient with myself in completing readings that would ordinarily take me half as much time before I began working. However, I believe that reading is a learned habit and can be inculcated with daily practice, it took me a few days to get back to my usual speed.

Being back as a student is like re-living the days before the COVID-19 pandemic, a world waiting to be explored. I have carried a few good habits from my time working. I used to wake up at 7 am to report to my job back home. Considering the super early sunset in the UK, I find that the habit of waking up early has helped me plan my daily activities better. I go for an early morning walk in the beautiful vicinity of the UoB campus and this gives me a head start for the day. Getting back to university after working has also supported me in sticking to a schedule and managing my time better in terms of the activities I wish to prioritise over the others.

I got to notice that most students here are pursuing their postgraduate degrees right after their undergraduate. In my cohort, most students do not have prior work experience. However, this has not been a bother for me as students straight out of their undergraduate degrees have an amazing reading speed and are well-versed with the current affairs in law. They are smart and tech-savvy and I am a staunch believer in learning from people irrespective of their age. I believe that younger students have a much more nuanced understanding of the latest AI and other research-aiding software and I have been open to learning the same from them.

I believe that in any postgraduate cohort, while prior work experience is appreciated, it is not mandatory solely for the reason of encouraging collaborative knowledge production and sharing. I am glad to be a part of a diverse LLM cohort where people with and without work experience are learning from each other’s lived experiences and strong suits instead of thinking of it as a matter of difference.