Little Pav’s Little Chats with… Mia Ustun

Hello and welcome to Episode 4 of Little Pav’s Little Chats, a subsidiary of Little Pav where I chat with fellow graduates and twenty-somethings all about their experiences during and beyond their studies to highlight the many avenues students and young people can pursue and, equally, that it’s okay not to have your life figured out in your twenties. I am very excited to introduce my fourth guest, 23-year-old master’s student from Luton, Mia Ustun! Mia graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Language and Linguistics from the University of Roehampton in 2018 and is currently working towards her MSc in Speech and Language Therapy at City University of London. Alongside her studies, Mia works as a part-time Pharmacy Advisor, and is working towards “30 before 30”: visiting thirty different countries before turning thirty. On that note, let’s hear what Mia has to say about life as a student, graduate and twenty-something in 2020…

Image description: Photos of me and Mia with the caption “Little Pav’s Little Chats with Mia U.”

Hey, Mia! Firstly, thank you so much for chatting with me. As I’ve mentioned to you many times before, you were the first person I spoke to on our English Language and Linguistics course, and I’m so grateful we’re still friends! Why did you choose this course of study?

Hi Soph! So happy to be taking part in Little Pav’s Little Chats.

During my time in sixth form, I wanted to study Psychology further, but really didn’t want to let go of my first love: language. I racked my brain, spoke to tutors and careers advisors, searched the internet until eventually coming across Speech and Language Therapy. I knew eventually this is what I would end up doing but, at only 17, I did not feel ready to embark on this particular journey. That’s when English Language and Linguistics caught my attention. I absolutely fell in love with the course and its content and believe it prepared me perfectly for my future endeavours!

That’s lovely! And now, you’re pursuing Speech and Language Therapy through a master’s degree! How big would you say the leap is from undergraduate to postgraduate study?

I am! I started Year 2 in September ‘20. I personally think it’s completely different from my undergraduate degree. My master’s course, however, is not typical; it’s essentially a four-year undergraduate course squashed into two. I went from being at university 2-3 days a week to 3-4 days plus a placement depending on where we’re at in the term. The workload is much heavier, and the content is challenging. I think this is because we have to cover so many areas, from biomedical science to acoustic phonetics, to augmentative and alternative communication. The list goes on… and on… and on. Overall, it was – and still is – quite a leap from undergrad life.

I agree that it’s a very big leap! So, why did you choose to study for a master’s degree? Is it expected of someone interested in Speech and Language Therapy?

So, in order to be a Speech and Language Therapist in the UK, you have to obtain an SLT qualification from a recognised course. Here are the routes you can take:

a) Four-year undergraduate degree

b) Two-year postgraduate degree

I’ve heard some people speculate the possibility of an apprenticeship in the future, but this is just hearsay. The master’s degree fits nicely with my educational development and gives me another bunch of letters after my name, so why not?

That’s true! You also took a gap year between your bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Was this intentional? How did you spend your gap year?

Originally, I wanted to go straight into my master’s; I even started the application processes. Unfortunately, I had a number of bereavements within my family which meant I wasn’t in the correct headspace to embark on a master’s. Every cloud has its silver lining though, and, during my year off, I was able to volunteer and get some really solid experience for my future career. I trained as a conversation partner and even managed to qualify as a Pharmacy Assistant; it’s impossible for me to stay away from education, even during a gap year.

As well as volunteering and saving up, I tried to travel as much as I possibly could. I love exploring different cities and learning about different cultures. I fell in love with Venice and cannot wait till it’s safe to travel again.

Every cloud has a silver lining indeed!
You’re currently completing your master’s degree in the midst of a pandemic. What’s the biggest challenge this has raised for you as a student in 2020?

Oh my goodness, it has been a challenge. I think the biggest challenge has to be going from travelling into City and being in lectures or placement every day, to sitting at my desk, in my house, on Zoom calls every day. Since all my family members are at work or school, it’s just me in the house. It was nice to have the quiet at first, but now I’m a bit lonely. It’s a big adjustment, but I am so grateful to be where I am today. I’ve always tried to highlight to my little sisters just how privileged we are to have such a fantastic education and just how many opportunities life will give us because of it! I guess the take home message here is: remember, in times of struggle or when faced with adversity, how blessed you are.

That’s such a sweet message to your little sisters!
To finish off, if you could give your first-year self any piece of advice, what would it be?

Live in the moment more and stop worrying about ‘what’s next’. This is something I’m still working on – but I really do try to practise it.

Soph, thank you so much for this interview!

No, thank you, Mia! Best of luck with the rest of your master’s!

How lovely! From Mia’s story, we can learn that there are so many ways you can find the right university course for you – be it through tutors, careers advisors and research – and how that course can prepare you for your desired career path. What’s more, Mia highlights that taking a gap year – intentionally or unintentionally – can offer many opportunities, from gaining work experience to travelling. So, if you are unsure what you want to do at university or how to spend your gap year, consider Mia’s footsteps!

Did you enjoy Mia’s story? Stay tuned for more inspiring stories from fellow graduates and twenty-somethings like Mia on Little Pav’s Little Chats!

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