What People Don’t Know About Liberal Arts Students

Once upon a time, I was an arts student who majored in International Studies. My friends used to question me on what were my dreams and aspirations. They didn’t know too much about what I was studying and I don’t blame them because I was once like that.

Just to briefly explain what I used to study, I learned about the international relations between states, international bodies and non-state actors. It includes but is not limited to understanding the patterns and behaviours of nation-states, power, wealth, war and peace, conflict and cooperation, sovereignty and so on.

It is very exciting and interesting because it also touches on identity, religion, cultural backgrounds, resources you own, the place you live in and other aspects of our daily lives. This makes it somewhat relatable to everyday life and it becomes more exciting because we can relate and form a better understanding.

As a liberal art student, I clocked in the least amount of lectures and seminars (8 – 12 hours) but here’s what you didn’t know about me.

I have a massive amount of readings to do weekly, I’m not even joking. Taking 4 units per semester, with each unit having roughly 3-4 readings per week, that would be something between 12 – 16 journal articles in a week. Let’s not even talk about the length of these articles because it’s just going to make one faint.

Okay, maybe reading journal articles isn’t that bad after all right? Now, we probably have the least amount of classes so some reading should hurt nobody. Yes, very true indeed. But I just wanted to highlight that the amount of after hours put in is much more significant than other schools (maybe, except law school).


Here’s another fact, I am not actually all that smart. I just sound smart when making an argument because that’s all we ever practice for. As an international studies major, the title sounds more glamorous and prestigious than it actually is. Beneath my glamorous title, I am just an average girl next door who loves the colour pink.

When it comes to assignments or exams for that matter, it’s all about writing and forming the best argument (that’s how I became good at it 😉 ). With each essay being 3,000-6,000 words long and between 6-8 essays per semester, I basically could have written a book in a semester.

Let’s not forget the nights I spend slaving away trying to look for materials, resources and journals. I spend my a huge chunk of my time reading endless materials to come up with an argument, so don’t be too surprise that I am partially good at this! (yay, me 😉 ) But of course, nobody sees the amount of hours that is put in and journals read prior to writing. I can honestly say I dedicate the majority of my days and nights to just purely reading journals and looking for the best resources. AND, writing the essay is honestly the easiest part.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a social life because honestly, it seems like liberal arts students have one of the better social lives compared to others. We probably have a lot of time out of lecture hours to do things we like, be it meeting up with friends over coffee, going to the gym on a regular basis or even binge watching a certain tv series. We do have a lot of time to spare and that’s the best part 😉 I once had 3 day week classes and that means 4 day weekends for me for that semester! It was pretty awesome I must say.

Just to briefly mention, Politics and International Studies comes hand-in-hand and I also studied bits of politics. For starters, not everyone who majors in this wants to be politicians. In fact, only a small percentage are looking for a career in the political sphere. I get questioned a lot by friends on whether I want to be a politician since I majored in this. The answer is no, I never had an intention and interest. Being a diplomat might still be a possibility but a politician is definitely out of the question.

How can I forget that I minored in Communication which also falls under liberal arts?! Well, this is a pretty darn interesting minor to have because I briefly touched on Film Studies and Journalism. As the subject suggest, Film Studies is about movies. And watching movies was actually part of my studies, how awesome was that?! I mean, never in my wildest dream did I think watching movies could actually be part of my academic studies.

Speaking about communication, most people I’ve met are very doubtful and clueless about this and they always assume that it is communication between two parties and who would ever need to do a degree in this?! Also, I must add that the stereotype about Communication student being the ‘dumber’ ones are highly incorrect. We’re not your rejected kids who didn’t get into Engineering or IT School. Not everyone likes to deal with calculations, science or programming, deal with it.

Life is not as easy as it looks. I may have clocked in the least number of hours in university but probably have one of the most extra hours or over-time as they call it in the workforce. Life isn’t a bed full of roses and don’t assume liberal arts is the easiest course out there because it certainly looks easier than it seems.

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