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Kaleidoscope, or Why I am an English Literature Student

Oftentimes, I am just tempted to ask myself: why do you have to be here?

By being here, I mean for being placed in this university and taking this major.

Actually, I had planned to take a major in informatics or computer science and aspired to study in Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember. However, as I approach the half of 11th grade, I found my interest for it had dimmed. I feel that my passion does not lay in working discrete mathematical problems or designing algorithms. Truth to be told, I even have a poor understanding of mathematics. It’s very frustating to be working in problems, solving equations when actually I even can’t do basic arithmetic calculations. So, by the end of the sixth semester I already considered other options for my higher education.

I first read philosophy when I was in junior high school. At first glance, philosophy is shocking for me because it forces people to question things they have taken for granted. But after reading Sophie’s World (it’s a truly great book and I’d recommend anyone to read it), I am turned to be a ‘philosopher’ by definition that everyone is in fact a philosopher. It affects the way I see and think about things to this day. Based on this fondness, I considered taking a philosophy degree. There are currently only two state university that offer a bachelor (sarjana) in philosophy, which are Universitas Indonesia and Universitas Gadjah Mada. Studying philosophy will take me apart from whatever I’ve learned in school, which I hated the most.

There’s a problem with taking a philosophy degree, though. As people already said, job opportunities for philosophy bachelors are scarce. Apart from being a lecturer, someone who has a philosophy degree will probably work on fields relatively unrelated to their study such as becoming a journalist, writer, or even an actor or actress (one Indonesian artist really has a philosophy degree, do you know who that person is?). On a not-so-serious note, actually the easiest way you could become a student of UI is by taking a bachelor of philosophy as your choice in SNMPTN/SBMPTN/SIMAK. In SNMPTN 2012, from 25 seats offered for the S1 Ilmu Filsafat only 14 participants chose it. It’s a very good option if you’re so desperate to be a student of UI. :mrgreen:

Here’s some quote I found in Reddit that I use as a guide for choosing a major:

People will encourage you to “study what you love” and things like that. I just disagree completely. Study something practical, and then study what you love in addition to that (in the form of a minor or a second major).

Even though I have a passion in philosophy, it doesn’t mean that it’s good to just study it. We need to think about the opportunities that our study will give us in the future. Given the rate of competition that keeps raising by the years, it’s only logical to choose a major that give more security for finding jobs in the future. For this reason, I was forced to choose something else for my major.

At early 12th grade, by some chance, I found another field that I was interested in: Literature.

So, choose why literature all of sudden? Basically, I’m someone who is fond of reading and writing.  If you hate seeing letters and feel more comfortable writing formulas or codes, then considering amajor of literature is out of question. Another reason is that both literature and philosophy belong to one discipline (and oftentimes one faculty): humanities.  Of course literature is not at all the same with philosophy. But, when you study literature you will certainly meet philosophers within your books. Both literature and philosophy requires their student to be a careful and understanding reader while being an excellent and communicative writer, too. Most importantly, both require their students to think critically and be able to indulge in abstract concepts. In short, there are many similarities between the two fields. If you like to write, read, and think, then a literature department will probably be a perfect place for you.

But that still leaves me (or you, dear reader) with one final question: why English Literature?

Some say that a S1 Sastra Inggris degree may no longer has good prospects in the future. It’s just too mainstream. Most of public and private universities around the country have a S1 Sastra Inggris program. There are too many graduates competing for steady job demands. However, in my opinion the job competition in the humanities sector is not as fierce as the competition in other fields. There are a lot of job opportunities, too. Among the available jobs are in translation, broadcasting, public relations, linguistics (basically, being a language scientist), or even the diplomatic corps. An English Literature graduate will have a job opportunity of literature, communication science, and international relations combined. Some of my friends really work as a presenter in television or radio. Pretty promising, isn’t it? Well, I’ve got no statistics or data that supports my belief. It just came from common sense, although I do know that what people call “common sense” tends to be misleading.

So, that’s it.

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