When I joined the Dallas Museum of Art as a docent a fellow docent and mentor made an insightful observation as her way of orienting me to the experience. She said, ‘this will be the most work you’ll ever love.’ I never forgot her comment because it is such a perfect illustration of how the efforts we make are reciprocals of the rewards we derive from pursuing our interests. My experience as a docent taught me a lot about my great interest in art and art history; I also got an education about independent study.
In many ways the experience of becoming a docent and the way we study at the International Programmes are similar. Luckily for me, the DMA docent program required focused, independent, scholarly study, annual essay and oral exams, and a lot of writing to prepare a different program every week. Maybe one of the reasons I enjoy the study process at U of L so much is because I had such a positive experience with something dear to my heart that operates in a similar structure.
Like being a docent, I love studying with the University of London International Programmes. It is so enjoyable that it is impossible to imagine myself not doing it. There are so many rewards of study I hardly know where to start: intellectual engagement, academic rigor, the constant variety of work, the puzzle of time management, being challenged to read and understand literature I very likely would not have selected on my own, earning a respected credential and recognition for my effort, having tools to pursue something I have always wanted to do, and my colleagues are just a few rewards for the effort.
My colleagues in this program are so inspiring, like my fellow docent at the DMA. Everyone has different perspectives and challenges. By completing the Foundations Units and going on to advanced degree work I am both an Alumni and a student. The ‘Oldsmiths’ and other U of L International Academy alumni I meet are inspiring, amazing people pursuing fantastic opportunities with their credentials. The students who help each other through the yearly academic process are equally inspiring and ingenious. For me, it is very rewarding to engage with both groups about how my program of study can be best-managed and directed.
The English & Comparative Literature program has already helped me to achieve personal and professional goals. This is so much fun I want it to go on forever. When first deciding what program to enroll in I agonized between three options: English, everything at the LSE, and Classics. This summer I decided that, after I complete my English degree, I will pursue another life long dream and study with the LSE, and after that go on to read classics at Royal Holloway. That sound like a nice pace for me, to quote another friend.
I can pace myself from now through my dotage engaging in a meaningful, focused way with my particular interests. The challenging things about distance learning are many times the most rewarding. Each year I look forward to getting better at managing them. Starting a new term is so exciting this year I can hardly sit still to read. To all of my colleagues who are new students or returning ones, let me repeat some great advice: This is the most work you’ll ever love. Expect more rewards for your effort than you ever imagined.