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Making the decision to change study directions: My experience

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a mathematician. Throughout high school I excelled at maths and was constantly praised for it, and because of this I made the decision to pursue maths in my future. I began university in 2015 and knew from the start that I was going to major in maths and become and mathematician. However, this year I have just begun my masters in electrical engineering. Somewhere along the way I changed paths, and through this post I want to explain how I came to that decision and maybe even help those of you who have became confused about their life plans.

I’ll start by saying that I have always lived with maths; my dad and my eldest brother are both pure mathematicians. It’s unclear if their influence lead me into wanting to be in the same field, but what I know for sure is that I always felt like I was living in the shadow of my brother. This made me want to work even harder, prove to everyone that I could be just as good of a mathematician as he is. The only problem with this is it lead me to in a way subconsciously resent my own brother while at the same time slowly grow more tired of maths. All I could think was that I was working so hard, and his achievements seemed so effortless.

When I was 19 I went on a trip to New Zealand, whilst there I visited a geothermal energy plant. I was so intrigued by the process of harnessing the earth’s own power to make electricity. I would say this was one of the first times I thought that maybe there’s more I could be passionate about than just maths. It was such a small thing, but for years to come it was something I would think about when maths was getting me down.

It was when I got to third year when I realised that I definitely wasn’t as happy as I could be. I got to a point where I dreaded going to uni the next day, and where my procrastination levels hit a peak. I just didn’t love maths like I used to. Part of me thought it could be just be a phase; that I could just be in a slump. I spent months like this, until I had to confront these feelings and realise that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in a career I felt so half-hearted about. This was when I first truly considered other options.

In the end, after talking to a lot of people and friends in other courses I came to a conclusion. Electrical Engineering. I didn’t want to drop out of my bachelor’s degree; I was so close to finishing that I never even considered that an option. However, when applying for masters I knew that I didn’t want to pursue maths. I finished my degree, and am so incredibly proud and happy with my major in maths. However, the day I got accepted into Electrical Engineering I felt a sudden sense of euphoria and calmness.

I have now started my Masters in Electrical Engineering, I don’t know anyone and can’t find my way around the new buildings. I am the most happy I have been in a long time.

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