Blog post

How I found a sense of belonging on my postgraduate course

Starting something new is often scary. We worry about what it might be like, how people will receive us, what they might think, what we might experience. Will we be disappointed? Excited? Challenged?

By Laura Stroud - 6 May 2020

Starting my postgraduate course was no different. I worried about the people I might meet and how I would fit in. However, the best part about postgraduate study is that everyone is there for very personal reasons. All the students on your course will want to achieve the very best they can, soaking up as much information as possible and pushing themselves. It’s such a wonderful environment, finding a sense of belonging happens so naturally, you almost don’t even notice.

You have so much in common with the people on your course

I was nervous on the first day of my course. Trying to find the correct room, starting conversations with strangers but as soon as I started discussing the course with the people I met, we realised we had so much in common. We liked the same authors and films. We had the same struggles and similar successes. We were able to find so many things to talk about because we had similar passions. You will find that lots of people on your postgraduate degree care about what you do, that’s why you are studying the same course.

You want the best for each other

I’ve found that people on my course, genuinely, want the best for each other. We help each other out, we want each other to succeed. I’ve found talking about what I’m struggling with or what I’m not sure about has helped me feel like I belong. As others have helped me solve a problem or told me they were struggling too. Members on our course set up a Facebook group and a WhatsApp group and it’s been a fantastic way for us to support each other throughout the year.

You have to make an effort

It could be very easy to not make an effort with people on your course. You might only see them once a week especially if you are studying different modules or pathways. So, to find a sense of belonging on your course you have to make an effort too.

You have to push yourself forward a little bit. Introducing yourself, suggesting revision sessions or research meetups in the library. It can feel daunting but even suggesting meeting up for a coffee after a lecture to discuss ideas can help you feel like you are building friendships and creating your own cohort atmosphere. Sometimes other people on your course are desperately waiting for someone to make the first move, to suggest a social gathering or extra research session. That means that sometimes you have to be the brave one and be determined.

The postgraduate year goes so quickly

I thought the year would go by quickly, but I can’t believe how time has hurried past. Your postgraduate year goes by so fast and you don’t want to regret missing out on time you could have spent with your newfound friends.

About the author

Laura sits on a sofa and smiles at the camera

Laura Stroud
MA Creative Writing graduate

Laura studied MA Creative Writing at the University of Derby and now teaches creative writing at Derbyshire Writing School. She also writes creative non-fiction at Stories From a Backpack.