We Are Essex

Shawn's story

Shawn Kykaczewski

"But the more my family pushed me into it, the more I didn’t care about it."

I’m from just outside Philadelphia in the US. It’s thousands of dollars cheaper to be here. Your average masters in the US is between thirty thousand and seventy thousand dollars per semester, whereas I’m paying roughly twenty thousand dollars to be here for the entire year. It’s also only a one year programme, as opposed to two years. I’m saving a lot of time and money. I’m nearly 30 as well, and some of my friends already have their PhD’s. I’m playing catch up.

I grew up watching the crocodile hunter, and kinda always want to be him haha. So here I am following my dream, despite my family being like, "No, be a doctor!" But I like animals a lot more than people! You’re always going to see that pressure with any family, there is an expectation to be more than what your parents were. I don’t think it’s necessarily important to meet those expectations as long you are happy with your life. I’ve met plenty of friends going through university with expectations of families forced upon them. Maybe there is a cultural difference where I don’t feel like I need to conform to my parents’ expectations because it is my life at the end of the day. I’d rather enjoy my job than get stuck with something somebody forced me into in my early twenties!

My mentor at my previous university convinced me to rekindle my dream. I had stopped going down the zoology and marine biology path as I was planning on becoming a medical doctors. But the more my family pushed me into it, the more I didn’t care about it. This lecturer took me under his wing and made me do grad level courses, even though I was a freshman. He studies the Banggai Cardinalfish which has been extinct in the wild for the last twenty-five years because people want them for their private aquariums. They convince indigenous Indonesian people to catch them for them. But populations aren’t fast breeding so they are quickly going extinct, despite the fact there is no real heavy predation other than human predation.

The community on campus has been very nice. I heard most Brits are pretty stand off-ish, but that doesn’t seem the case here anyway! I really love the university, the lecturers are fantastic, personable people. I really appreciate that. The only thing I really struggle with are the British colloquialisms. I say pants all the time, and people are like, "your what?!"

My motto in life is to just be happy. That’s it. Life is all about the pursuit of happiness. Just do what feels right at the end of the day.

 

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