Pursuing a master’s degree with a baby – Guest Blog by Juwairiyyah

Pursuing a master’s degree while raising a baby, at the same time, might sound like a crazy idea. On top of this, choosing a university that is a thousand miles away from your home country, could be seen as even more of a challenge. Nonetheless, I decided to do it anyway. In September 2017, I flew from Indonesia to the UK along with my baby and husband. I followed my aspiration to do a master’s degree in e-business and innovation (EBIN) programme at Lancaster University. The university is the perfect place for me, a student who is also the mother of an 8-month baby. The facilities and members of staff accommodated all of our needs so that I could gain a rich learning experience, while my family enjoyed their time.

The first challenge of being a student and a breastfeeding mother was time management. Solving that, we decided to live in ca campus-owned family flat, located opposite the campus library, and a short walk away from the LUMS building. The location could not be better. I could quickly come home in the break time to get lunch, breastfeed the baby, then come back to the LUMS building for attending the next lecture. Since day 1, The EBIN staff informed the students about the courses, assignments and submission deadlines. Moreover, the lecturers, despite their high profiles and achievements, are very humble. We could easily request a face-to-face consultation at a convenient time. That kind of support allowed me to effectively balance study time with family time.

Secondly, the EBIN programme is interesting as it offers the student to take on consulting projects. The clients are real UK companies, who students provide consultation and propose valuable innovation to. However, it is sometimes required of the students to do some field visits and overnight stays. This would not be easy for me as my baby hardly sleeps when I am not there. Besides, pumping breastmilk and keeping the frozen milk stocked while I am out of town is such a hassle, yet I did not want to give up breastfeeding. Accommodating this concern, the EBIN director would always allow my baby and husband to come along to stay with me and the other students. Hence, I was able to focus on my projects and monitor my baby.

Apart from that, our neighbours were so friendly, we would often spend free time together with the children. The campus itself is a green environment where children can safely lie on the grass, chase after the birds, and collect leaves. The library became a warm playground during the winter months. When my husband was away, I would take the baby with me to the library. While I studied, he would walk around the book aisles, very quietly, sit and doodle or sleep in his pram, as if he understood the library rules. Various activities were available for my husband too. He joined the English clubs in Lancaster City library, where he would regularly meet local people and improve his proficiency in English. He also did some voluntary work in a foundation, twice a week, so that he grow his network and gain new competence. Alongside this, he played a role in the Indonesian futsal club and joined a futsal competition in Oxford. As a result, each of us were able to satisfy our needs and develop ourselves.

In summary, Lancaster is a great place for women aiming to study, without putting aside their family. While many people in my country believe that women should stay at home, to take care of their baby, while the men work, we decided to take a different approach. In the end, I graduated with a distinction and achieved my 2-year breastfeeding mission. My baby continues to grow, happily and healthily. My husband continues to progress his networking skills and competence. Overall, we made good memories as a family, and we are proud to call Lancaster our second home.