By Nina Kraus |

While writing my master thesis, one moment stood out. To be honest, it was not only one moment, but six – exactly the number of chapters in my thesis. It was one intimidating, one very empty page except for the line on top of it, announcing that I have reached the next chapter.

It’s a moment I expect every student knows just too well. And, frankly, after churning out what felt like a ton of course papers during my university career, I considered myself prepared. I had everything assembled in my head. I had my notes. I knew what I wanted to do and what I wanted to say. But it did not matter how well I prepared my research or how urgent my deadline had since become (spoiler alert: very urgent!). Whenever I finished writing a chapter, I had a hard time getting started on the next one. There were always things to do, places to be, rooms to clean, reviews to write and this – this transition from one chapter to the next – was a perfect moment for a break. It was the perfect opportunity to revise.

In the end, I think these breaks did me well and gave me the chance to think over my choices, to reconsider my argument if necessary. It also gave me the chance to netflix a whole lot more than I was supposed to, but that is a different aspect of this issue. While writing, breaks are important to take a step back and look at what you are doing. Consider what you want. Is that what you really want to do? Does it make sense? Did your opinion change since last time?

In a way, my struggles to continue writing my thesis in its course of six chapters correlated a lot with my life situation in general. It concerned not only my graduating from my program, but the questions of what comes after. What do I want to say? What do I want to do? And what I decided was to not pursue a PhD and leave university.

I feel that it is a good time to bring this one part of my life to an end. I have worked next to my studies, I’ve been abroad and took time off of my courses to pursue other projects. But all of these experiences were always accompanied by the certainty of going back to university. It was a little bit like rope dancing with the security net underneath you. It was good to have that sense of security. It was important and every now and then, it made me brave.

Now, being faced with this new chapter of my life, it has me a little bit unsettled, I admit. There is no research. No notes. I’ve handed in my thesis. I don’t have classes anymore. I take a break. A moment to revise, reconsider. Going onwards, I write job applications, I’m having interviews and I have already received a couple of denials. I take another step back. Revise. Reconsider. Is that what I really want to do? Will I regret it? Will my opinion change?

They probably will change. I’m excited for it. Because despite my decision to go for a career outside of a postgraduate program, the possibility of pursing a doctorate in the future whenever or if I ever feel ready for it, still gives me a sense of security. I have a degree (or so I hope – ask again in a couple of weeks!). I come prepared, by churning out tons of papers and traveling and studying. It’s a chance I’m privileged enough to take.

So, facing now one very intimidating, but perhaps not so empty page, I have reached the next chapter. We will see how many more there will come. Bye bye university. It was blast. I might see you soon!

Nina Kraus may or may not graduate from her masters program in Public History at Freie Universität Berlin this summer. You can reach her via

(Cover image (c) Nina Kraus)