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Graduating with a master’s degree did not bring the expected train of emotions but it did remove all structure from her life, Padmini Manivannan experiences.

Columnist Padmini Manivannan reflects on her journey of graduating in the Netherlands. It felt a bit like running a race, she realizes.

For the people that follow my pieces here and for the new reader, let me reintroduce myself. I am Padmini Manivannan and I recently graduated with a Master’s in Electrical Engineering.

People don’t tell you that life after graduation for a lot of people is 75% anticipation. The rest is taken up by joy or sadness, depending on the day. But more on that some other time.

Once important stages in life come to a close, it is imperative to take stock. I like to. As silly as it may sound, I wrote down everything about my first relationship after it was over, analysing every step and going through all the emotions again on paper. It helps me come to terms with everything. I did the same after finishing my Bachelor’s. As much as (a longer version of) this article belongs in my journal, I thought I can confide in this virtual audience who’ve been on this journey with me.

When I look back at my two years here, everything flashes by instantaneously like a blur. It started with boarding a plane, travelling 8,000 km across the globe and falling in love with the place; meeting people and making lasting relationships; marvelling at the courses I learned, struggling with some and then acing some; finding this wonderful creative outlet at Delta; bike trips and holidays with friends and many more memories. The one thing I’m yet to do is jump and swim in a canal.

Journeys, saliently, require you to get from point A to point B. My point A was, ‘I don’t know much but I really like this, and if I go to this school of learning then I can gain some knowledge’. Point B is ‘This has been a transformative experience and I am definitely smarter than before and someone hire me’. Between these points, it can sometimes feel like a bit like running a race against others and yourself. As the lyrical genius Kathryn Schulz said, “Running is a straightforward act but the symbolism around it is strangely mixed”. She goes on to say that running is the ‘flight’ of our fight-or-flight response. We run away from problems, from threats and insecurities. “And yet running is an enduring metaphor for freedom. We run to freedom and run to demonstrate our freedom.”

And this is somehow the way I see my run here too. I ‘ran’ from back home in India to feel a sense of liberation and to live my own life. I ran to classes nearly every morning. I ran to professors to ask them questions. I ran from the feeling of not feeling good enough. I ran to complete my thesis and, all in all, I ran to point B.  And like how every run slows down to a stroll and an amble, I ambled my way to accepting my achievements with a mix of pride and humility.

Padmini Manivannan recently graduated from the Master Signals and Systems at TU Delft and hails from Chennai, India. She loves doodling in her free time.

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