I’ll be honest, when accepting my offer to study at St Andrews, I barely knew you were there. They said something about the interdisciplinary Scottish education system, the extra year of toil, the “flexible” degree structure, but you always seemed a distant concept, a side note in my plans for the future. I felt so excited to have a place studying IR that you were simply irrelevant to me, a trivial academic side-note to life in the University I had so wanted to attend.
After the alcohol-fuelled adventure of the first days on Freshers’ Week, however, you finally became a reality. There was never any question about the first module. The second was the obligatory “fun” subject I had just enough experience at not to fail. But the third? You, my dear unwanted friend, were harder to place down. What were you supposed to be? Something that looked good on paper but that I hated? Something enjoyable but that would be dismissed as “not a real subject” by my peers? In the end, I settled for the most general, applicable and unimaginative subject as I could – Management.
That’s not to criticise the subject itself. To those who studied Management as a first or even second module, to those who wanted to enter the upper echelons of the corporate world and dazzle their colleagues with their managing skills, it was a useful undertaking, important even. But to someone with as much business sense as interest in it, you were not. You squatted on my timetable like a hefty intruder. You absorbed the time and effort that could have been spent doing something I actually wanted to do. You’re another subject this semester, but at heart, you’re still the same – unwanted, unnecessary, unloved.
To others, you may not be quite so disliked. Some may even like you. You may fulfil their intellectual curiosity, allow them to learn and explore a subject they never thought they’d find. And, in fairness, it would be untrue to say you taught me nothing. You have broadened my academic outlook and, though I’m loath to admit it, you have probably made me a (slightly) more knowledgeable person than I was before.
And yet, third module, I still despise you. There are many of us who, unlike our more enlightened peers, are simply not good at a broad range of subjects. There are many of us who entered university knowing exactly which subject we would like to do, perhaps even what job we wanted to do on coming out. To us, you are more than just an unnecessary distraction. You are an obnoxious interference in our days and in our minds, diverting our time and energy away from studying our passion and towards the endless depths of intellectual apathy.
You can change your face, morph from one subject to the next as I desperately try to work out what to do with you. But, to me, you will always be the same.
However, this isn’t a break up. As much as I say you’re unnecessary, the truth is, I need you. Or rather, I need your credits. You can think of me as an academic gold digger, lavishing my time on you to exploit every decent grade you can give me. But when I no longer need you, you can be assured that I will leave and never look back.
And so, third module, this isn’t goodbye. But I, for one, can’t wait till the day that it is.