As we stand here, at the beginning of a wildly different university year for all of us, it’s a good chance to take a step back and get a sense of what we consider important to us and why. And today, I would like to share with you one of the biggest decisions of my life so far: choosing my subject of study at university.
Before I embarked on this academic 3-year journey of studying Communication, I was an extremely indecisive student, looking for a path in life, for my ultimate purpose (as dramatic as that sounds) and for a subject to study in university.
I wasn’t one of those who were passionate about a particular school subject. I was an average student with decent grades and plenty of unrelated interests. Yet, what I enjoyed most of all was learning. Anything and everything.
And that made it especially difficult for me to find a subject that would be exciting enough to fascinate me and all-encompassing enough so that my interests in photography, writing, and a plethora of other passions would not get lost along the way.
Journalism seemed like an easy bet. As you can see, I’m dabbling in some article writing at this very moment. However, I was disappointed with the journalism programs in my country and the Netherlands didn’t have just journalism. And that was how I discovered the Communication Science programme at the University of Amsterdam.
Communication Science has something for everyone
Finding this programme was like winning the jackpot for me. Reading about the course’s components made me realize how exhaustive this subject was.
For the first time in my life, I had the clarity to understand who I was.
Since Communication plays a role in every aspect of life, I could finally make sense of my diverging interests. All of my hobbies found new meaning under the umbrella of Persuasive Communication, Entertainment, or Political Communication. For the first time in my life, I had the clarity to understand who I was. Moreover, there were so many things to learn.
The Communication Science programme exposes students to different subjects of study while equipping them with the tools to thrive anywhere. From screenplay writing, journalism, to PR and social science researcher, every job is in reach for a Communication Science graduate.
Surviving the 3 years of CS
The first year was tough, I am not going to lie. So, heads up to those of you starting now.
A lot of the groundwork of understanding the scientific method and the inner workings of academic studies is laid in the first semester. But do not fret, that shall pass and so will you with your classes!
Every new course that comes after that will give you new insight into a different area of study in communication. Still, the principles you learn in the first year (how to conduct a study, how to design a proper experiment, what to understand from a research article, etc.) are applicable in every aspect of communication (and other social sciences).
Something I absolutely love about the structure of the programme is the liberty it gives you to be a master of your time.
On one hand, the small number of classes per week allows students to learn at their own pace. Between the lectures and seminars, you can divide your time however you want where an active social life and academic success are not mutually exclusive.
On the other hand, the structure of the academic blocks after your third semester is totally fluid. You can choose when you’ll do your graduation project, minor/electives, or internship.
A close to finale perspective
Looking back at the beginning, there are so many more things that I wished I knew then. So many opportunities that, had I known about them sooner, would have enriched my experience even more.
One of them that pops to mind is joining the open courses offered by the UvA. These are mostly inter- or trans-disciplinary courses that require no prior knowledge of the subject.
Getting involved in Medium Magazine is another one. Students can sign up to become writers for our magazine from their first year of studies to hone their journalistic and creative writing skills.
Lastly, the events organized by UvA and Mercurius, in particular, are great opportunities to develop friendships with your fellow classmates while having a blast.
At the start of my third and final year, I can see how this journey to knowledge had an impact on me on a personal level.
Coming from a very different education system, I had trouble asking questions at first. But only after I tore down that wall was I able to truly engage with the subjects I learned about.
Most importantly, I, one little student, am always able and encouraged to question a lecturer with 10 PhDs.
And of course, I had, at times, extremely stupid questions to ask, but I always got an answer. Most importantly, I, one little student, am always able and encouraged to question a lecturer with 10 PhDs.
Trying new things and allowing myself to make mistakes has been a big part of my growth in these years. And I think the outcome might have been different had I studied something else. The nature of Communication Science has helped me see the many facets of life and study, work and personal development in ways that my previous studies couldn’t.
I fully expect that your reasons to study Communication Science are entirely unique to you, and your experience can vastly differ from mine. However, I sincerely hope that Communication Science instils a feeling of potential and possibility in us all.
Cover: Volodymyr Hryshchenko