Subject: English Literature
Student status: Home, Graduate
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I suppose I don't feel as though they've necessarily changed me, I think they've brought certain things out of me, perhaps I didn't know that I had. I didn't know that I'd be able to develop analytical skills and read all these different kinds of texts that I've been reading on my PhD, all these different things, and think them through quite so clearly, develop my own opinions on things. I never realised that I'd have that kind of strength to assert my ideas and things the way that I did in my PhD. I wrote a whole thesis about exactly what I thought about all these things that I was reading and my take on it, why there were problems with it, why I agreed with certain things and so on. I didn't think that I would ever have that purchase on my own opinion before. I never thought that I'd end up being so clear about what I thought and being so confident to argue it.

I think that's definitely been a change, that's definitely how the university experience has affected me. It's given me confidence, I guess, intellectual confidence. It sounds a bit grand but I don't know how else to put it, really. It's made me realise that thinking things through, it's a good activity to do but it does affect you and it does bring things out in you. It does help you think clearly, it does mean that you can form your opinions more intelligently and more confidently. It means that you have the time to really think about why you think the way you think which for me is what the PhD ended up doing, was just to go further and further and further in my thinking and rather than just reading a bunch of stuff, was to think, 'Why am I reading this stuff, why am I doing it?' You have to reflect that back on yourself more and more.

The further you go in university I think the more the question becomes, 'Why am I doing this and why am I doing this in this way?' That can make you feel quite strong, I think, when you have that much time to think about why you're doing what you're doing, it can be quite liberating, really, because then you don't always spend every minute of your life thinking it because you've spent your time studying thinking through it. You come to the end of that studying and then you go on to live your life, which is a really nice thing. It's not just having a career path, it's having a whole frame of mind for the rest of your life, really, which is the biggest change, for me.