In the future – when I reminisce on the time I’ve spent at the University of Groningen – the one thing I’ll remember the most is Honours College. When I contemplate whether it was wise to embark on the 4,000 mile journey it took to get to the Netherlands and the monumental and unforeseen challenges I encountered to finish what I started, I’ll feel grateful that I had the opportunity to engage in academic work outside the realm of simply attending lectures, writing a thesis and sitting exams.
For me, the Honours College Master’s programme was more than an extracurricular activity. It was an opportunity to thrive personally through experiential means, to engage with and learn from professionals within and outside of my field of study, to be creative in thought and action, and to bring to life the ideas and plans that gave me personal joy and which reflected one aspect of the direction in which I hope my future career in psychology will take.
To some, it is perhaps uncanny that I would have found more fulfilment in my Honours College experience compared to my degree programme. In fact, this was among the feedback given by a fellow student when I was commissioned to promote the Honours College Master’s programme by inviting others to enroll at a graduation gathering for bachelor students.
He suggested that perhaps my conclusion reflected the strength (or more precisely the lack thereof) of my degree programme. I will agree that, having spent two years in a previous Master’s degree programme in Jamaica, my initial anticipation was that my studies at the RUG would be similarly demanding. When that was not apparent by the first semester, I was thankful for the opportunity to throw myself into the less routine, more eclectic demands that the Honours College programme provided.
On the other hand, perhaps the experience of having learned how to manage the rigors of graduate school in the past made me more confident that I could take on the additional challenge that the Honours programme presented. For the first time in my adult life I would have been attending University on a fulltime basis without having to work at the same time in order to finance my studies. Thankfully, the Honours College was a fitting way to fill the hours that would have been otherwise occupied by a fulltime job, while providing the welcomed opportunity to broaden my learning experience.
So, while others will remember the late-night fraternity parties they attended, their sorority membership experiences, the many friends they made, the various European countries they travelled to, their internships abroad or the Phd scholarships they were awarded, I’ll remember that small office in the tower of the Academy Building that challenged me in the direction of my goals.