Study choices and surprises
TIRANA, ALBANIA – When I first entered the hall of the Faculty of Social Science to register for the Philosophy course my heart was trembling and I could feel a strong shining light on me. It was crystal clear that I loved studying humanities.
It was a surprise to my friends, my cousins, my family, my teachers back in high school – yes, in my country (Albania – E.d.) we call it high school from 9-12 grade -, and also for myself to a certain extent. I had been studying countless hours each day for the entire summer to prepare myself to enter the qualification test to become a Lawyer. Only in the last week I decided to have a second option and also take the second test for Social Sciences. At those years you had to rank in the first hundred bests to be considered to enter the University. When we were not part of the Bologna agreement we would receive a diploma and not a Bachelor Degree based on credits, this gave another difference back in time.
Though the education systems have changed lately, perhaps it is still not the way many people identify their studies and carrier paths. Thus, to become a lawyer in my country is as common as becoming an economist. And there are such an excessive number of people with a law degree that it has caused a massive joke storm on how people are unemployed as lawyers but overqualified as waiters. Sad reality.
To be honest I’ve never considered being unemployed but I also started to believe that in order for me to succeed in an area of expertise, I would need to continue my studies further and become a Magistrate after graduating in Law. That would possibly lead me towards the Court as a judge or towards the Prosecutions office. By envisioning these future snapshots, I stopped and started to have second thoughts about it. This would mean that I would need to deal with people that don’t respect laws and possibly also criminals. Thinking of the justice system in my country and its many problems, I just didn’t find the way to see myself as a highly qualified lawyer, doing a very sensitive and also very dangerous job. I was absolutely not prepared to do that.
“Are you sure you wish to choose Philosophy and not Law?” – I still remember the look of the administrative secretary. She asked me the 1 million dollars question and, surprisingly enough, I said yes I’m pretty sure.
The only person who understood my views and supported my decision was my uncle. He even tried to add an argument by explaining my father that studying history and philosophy had never harmed anyone. He was helping me finding the various books I needed to succeed in my exams. And once again, let me tell you, in those years books were so difficult to find and Internet was such a new concept that I hardly managed to open a personal email address.
I am sure of what I want
I would run every morning to school and greet my friends, who were studying Law in the first and second floors of the same building where I was also attending. For quite a long time I had to reply with a smile to their repeated question on how come I changed my mind at the last moment. A couple of them even attempted to convince me to change, as I was still on time to do so. But to me, all that was out of question already.
While Albania was in an everlasting transition from dictatorship to democracy, everyday I would be reading about the how’s and why’s a system is so and shouldn’t be so. I was full of idealistic visions and pragmatist ideas and practices stemming from the West on the ways my country should develop, follow the right policies and steps to move forward. And I was ready to contribute. I was happily studying my so-loved Philosophy for four years with very good result. I was eager to learn. I read volumes of books. I excelled at exams and papers. I was demonstrating that I was truly born to study Philosophy and not Law. It was the day-to-day documentation of my desire not to become a lawyer.
But the day of my triumph was certainly my graduation day. My thesis was appreciated so much that it felt as if I had written the new constitution on liberty and democratic power. “Hey world I’m ready to guide and rule!” – this was my clear career motto.
I immediately started searching not simply for a job, but for the dream job itself. My eyes were into public administration posts. I felt I was full of knowledge, energy and determination to contribute to my country’s mechanisms that move the state’s existence. I was full of hope that my years of studies were the ones needed in this country.
So I started applying and very soon I found myself in the recruitment processes, which I have to tell you, turned me down many times. I was aware that I might not have been the best on the market and maybe others were more experienced than me, but I had my strong belief that if I insist, I succeed.
Or perhaps I am not
My final knockout interview was for a position at the Ministry of European Integration. I did the written test and they qualified me for the interview. I was certain that this would be my chance to succeed. I entered the room with full confidence feeling that this was my day. There were seven people in front of me and I answered many of their questions smiling and optimistic that I was doing great.
One of the panelist was my former professor. I was so happy that he was there. He would understand more than the others that I was one of the best students, one of the most devoted ones when it comes to democracy and rule of law. He was there to smooth my path. Or at least this is what I thought.
But his only question was the following: “What do you think you can do as a job with your diploma and no work experience?”. I got mad. I kept my body straight, my head high and the smile on, but I could feel how the blood moves fast towards my brain. I could feel my deep desire to stand up and scream at him: How come that you are the only one here really knowing what I’ve studied and you still pose this stupid question to me? You should know well how many books I’ve read to be prepared to serve democracy and my country. What about the democratic ideal of the servant of state?
But instead of that, I answered: “yes you are right, I don’t know where I could work but definitely I understand that not in the public administration sector because you are not prepared to have me”.
I left the room and never wanted to go back there again.
Since that day my life has changed. And I understood what I couldn’t do and where not to seek again…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Blerina Karagjozi is from Tirana, Albania. Though she is working in the office of the Resident Coordinator, United Nations in Albania, she likes to be referred as a blogger. Her real passion is all about writing and besides publishing on OneEurope, she maintains a successful personal blog making 65k readers happy since 2013.
Edited by Virag
Photo credit: Flickr / Cavale Doom