The 7-year degree: studying for a PhD in Life and Resilience

This week Tumama Tu’ulua  from the Pacific Development Team shares a student perspective on studying during the exam break on Insider’s  Guide- we’ve shared it here also for staff.

Seven years.

That’s how long it takes for chewing gum to digest after you’ve swallowed it. It’s also how long I’ve been studying my Bachelors degree – 25 years old and still studying.

Its been a cocktail of trials, a lot of errors, and a test of will. To be fair I haven’t studied that whole time, choosing to pursue sport in little chunks throughout and studying part-time, but when I look back at it and when other people look at it that’s how its going to look.

To say it was never hard to keep going when it didn’t seem worth it anymore, would be a lie. There are many times where I felt I was over study, felt like giving up, felt like leaving, and even felt like a bachelors degree was beneath me at one stage lol.

But I stuck in there (and am still sticking in there), not because I had to, or, because of the millions of resilience cliches, but because this degree isn’t just for me – its for everyone that has helped me have the opportunity to study and has kept me here. Now to me that is the definition of success, making my family proud, and providing for them.

For you it could be something completely different and that’s awesome, but my tips in staying resilient especially during the exam period but for uni in general is to:

  1. Know why you are here
  2. Know what your defintion of success is
  3. Know how success and happiness feels

These three things have helped me stay here.

When things get tough knowing my purpose for being here gives me something to hold on to, its my light at the end of the tunnel.

Knowing what success is to me, helps me recognise whether, or, not what I’m doing is adding value, it gives me direction.

Knowing how success feels helps me differentiate between when I’m under pressure and when I’m getting stressed.

You can’t operate under stress, so truly knowing how I feel when succeeding and happy gives me a measuring stick to when I’m getting stressed and I know I need to have a break.

A degree is the one tangible thing that validates to the world what I did here at UC. The relationships that I made here are so much more important to me, but, the things I’ve learnt mean a lot less to the world without that piece of paper. Studies were always my back-up plan, but when plan B becomes A its initially a hard switch to make. But put in the work, access the help available, stay focused and get the treats! Good luck with exams, hang in there, it will get easier, it will get better. UC for Life! (Literally lol).

Tumama Tu’ulua  – Pacific Engagement Coordinator
Pacific Development Team