Golden Key Spotlight: Claire Baxter
It’s not uncommon for students to take a study abroad year. It’s just that I was 37 when I took mine. I completed my first bachelor’s degree in 2001, joining Golden Key at that time, and then completed a second bachelor’s degree part-time by distance in 2008. Postgraduate study was always on my mind, and one day I saw a course at the University of Glasgow that looked to be exactly what I wanted to do. I applied, was accepted on scholarship, and suddenly I was moving to Scotland!
Moving abroad is difficult at any age, perhaps more so when you are older and more settled in life. Finding accommodation and making friends were also more difficult as an older student. I felt too old for student accommodation and all the university clubs and societies were full of much younger students, so I had to search outside of the university for friends.
But there are also definite advantages to waiting until you are older to study abroad. For example, I’d learned the value of networking, taking advantage of all learning opportunities, and also project management, which I was very thankful for when I came to write my dissertation. I also think I was much more grateful to be there, having waited for so long, versus my younger classmates who perhaps took the opportunity a bit more for granted. This made me value the whole of the experience more, rather than just going to class, submitting the assignments, and getting the degree.
Throwing myself into a new situation at age 37 was also a great personal challenge. You can become a little set in your ways as you get older. I’d lived in the same city my whole life, had worked for the same company for ten years, lived in the same apartment for seven years, and most of my friends I had known since at least my twenties. To have all of that taken away and have to navigate a new city, get out and meet new people, and be stretched intellectually was a big step outside of my comfort zone.
There were times it was difficult, times that I doubted myself or was lonely, and many times that I suffered from imposter syndrome. But as they say, the best learning happens outside of your comfort zone, and overall I feel that the experience made me a lot more confident and resilient. I also really enjoyed re-engaging with academia and the experience opened my eyes to different paths and career options. It was a very fulfilling experience and I’d say to others who have the same dream that you are never too old.
Bio: Claire Baxter
Claire became a member of Golden Key since 1999 during her Bachelor of Sports Management. She then completed a Bachelor of Arts in History and Archaeology, and has been working in the travel industry for the past 13 years as both a product manager and business analyst. During this time she took a sabbatical to study a Masters of Conflict Archaeology at the University of Glasgow.