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Academia can be discouraging. There are times where one may want to quit. There are also times where one may want to pull their hair out from all of the stress. You may run into people who only discourage you and people who only cheer you on. You may even run into people who are completely honest with you. You will have hard professors and easy professors. Sometimes you may get an A and other times you won’t. Academia is a roller coaster that never really stops.
Some of us have a plan. Some of us know what we want to do. Some of us don’t have a plan or know what we want. Some of us are in the middle. That’s okay. I kind of know what I want, but I don’t I have a plan. I’m studying English and Italian with hopes of being a Dante Specialist someday. I am twenty-four now. I’ve changed my major a few times knowing that I should have studied English in the first place. I’ve transferred universities twice. It is what it is. We do the best we can. The best thing I ever did was make the choice to take breaks between changing my major a couple of times and finding the perfect school for me. Never force yourself into something that makes you unhappy.
At the moment, I am double majoring with a double minor. When I entered my dream school for my undergraduate studies, I was already an English major. I spoke with the Humanities advisor. The first thing he did was ask me about my ultimate goal which would be obtaining my Ph.D., teaching Dante at a university, and eventually being tenured. Then he had me list the things that I love and would love to study in school. I had a long list of possibilities. Each possibility was categorized. There was a lot of things that fell under Italian studies like Sandro Botticelli, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Dante Alighieri, and Machiavelli. Italian Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo are a few of my favorite periods of art. There were also classic books that I reread often and love that would fall under the Medieval, Elizabethan, and Victorian periods. Although my ultimate goal is to teach Dante at a university, I told him that I would love to be part of a publishing team someday. When he mixed up the list, he showed me the many majors and minors that the university offered. I was already on the right path. I’m so happy about where I am now. My future is looking bright. I’m going to be able to study Dante and have my plan b, c, and d just in case.
This semester has only just begun. At lest that’s the way it feels. Everything is fast-paced. I now have midterm papers due. My English papers are usually due at the same time and sometimes it can be stressful. My Italian course quizzes one week and tests the next week as if on cue. Sometimes when I’m speaking, I smoothly translate into Italian. I’m usually surprised by that. I didn’t know I could do that. I’m working hard to become fluent. My art and publishing classes meet once a week and I occasionally forget about assignments, but I am quick on my feet. I haven’t missed a deadline yet.
Besides the stress and never-ending sleepless hours, the time spent in academia is probably one of the best times in one’s academic career. I get some people don’t have a good experience as undergrads. For me, the time I’m taking to learn all that I can and more about areas in literature, art, Italian, and publishing that I’m passionate about is worth it all. Some joke about being a professional student, but that’s just academia in a nutshell.
So, if you’re ever feeling a bit discouraged, remember that passion is what matters most. There isn’t such a thing as “too old”. There will be obstacles. There are times you will fail and other times you will achieve what you wanted to. Take the opportunities that are presented to you. You know what you want even if it’s just a little. Let your passion burn bright. You got this! 


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