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SFU Health and Counselling Services
Registered Clinical Counsellor

Arya from Game of Thrones
I've also done my best to avoid major plot spoilers. If you've read/watched book one, there shouldn't be any surprises ahead. However, I make no promises, so consider yourself warned

As it's simultaneously one of the most enjoyable things I've read and seen in a long time, I've been thinking about how to write a post about A Game of Thrones while staying true to this blog's intent of providing educational/entertaining material related to careers and post secondary education. Just today, I came up with this idea: what would the characters in A Game of Thrones major in, if they went to a modern day university?

I focused on the characters that I found most interesting or noteworthy in my reading of the series - you might have some of your own favourites that I don't get to - I invite you to join in the discussion with your own opinions!

I've also done my best to avoid major plot spoilers. If you've read/watched book one, there shouldn't be any surprises ahead. However, I make no promises, so consider yourself warned.

House Stark

Eddard "Ned" Stark - The quintessential "Man of Honour." Strong in duty, fierce in combat, both hard and well-loved, and with values as rigid and unyielding as iron. Ned represents one of the few one-dimensional characters in the series, though there are unanswered questions from his past that should make readers raise an eyebrow. If Ned Stark chose  a university major, it would have to be Law. Ned's insistence on justice, seeing the world in strict black and white, and choosing "what is right" as opposed to "what will win" resembles what I see to be the ideals of legal studies. The study of law is steeped in tradition, and I'm sure some would refer to it as harsh, old-school, yet fair. Sounds like Ned to me.

Arya Stark - "Arya underfoot" - the younger and much more interesting Stark daughter, is the family tomboy. In true "second child" fashion, she resents and rebels against the prescribed female role embraced by her older sister. In as many ways as are possible for a child of noble birth, Arya goes against the accepted grain of society. She learns to effectively wield a sword in the Braavosi style, she hangs out with kids from the lower classes, and she's not afraid to speak her mind. I'm guessing Arya's major would be something like Women's Studies. Academic feminism is very much about challenging the status quo, proposing radical new ideas, and so forth. Arya would probably also be the best athlete on the fencing team.

Jon Snow - Ned Stark's bastard. Never to be fully accepted, never to have a home outside of the ruthless, unrelenting cold of The Wall. Jon's unique position as "being-but-not-really-officially-being" a Stark makes for very interesting motivations (as well as generally making him an interesting character), as he is driven both by a barely concealed rage and a fierce loyalty to his families at various points in the series (the Starks and the Night's Watch). Unlike Ned, Jon has a quick and biting temper, but like his dad Jon does whatever he thinks is right in a given situation. While clearly adept in combat, Jon also possesses a tireless work ethic and keen intelligence (though he may lack in wisdom). Additionally, my impression is that Jon would want to study something very practical - so I'll go with engineering. Runners up might include kinesiology or physical education (due to his skill for training others in the arts of close combat).

House Lannister

Cersei Lannister - Cunning, conniving, scheming, power-hungry, perhaps downright evil, Cersei is easy to chalk up as a villain. She's as good a player in the "game of thrones" as any in the series. Her weapons are her sharp intellect, physical beauty, and all-around ruthlessness. Cersei is also, like most mothers in the series, fiercely devoted to protecting her children at all costs. It's Cersei's ability to be one step ahead of most other characters, however, that played the biggest role in my decision as to what she would study. Cersei has a seemingly innate ability to read other people - to figure out their weaknesses, their insecurities, and capitalize on them - mostly through various forms of persuasion. For this reason, I think she'd really see the appeal of a marketing degree.

Tyrion Lannister - A dwarf in a big person's world, Tyrion shares a certain degree of "outsider-ness" with Jon Snow - so it's no surprise that the two end up getting along quite nicely. Tyrion's intelligence and wit combined with his sense of humour make him an easy fan favourite, as does his kind and - for a Lannister - relatively moral personality. Outside of Samwell Tarly and the maesters of Oldtown, Tyrion is also one of few characters with an explicit love of learning and gaining knowledge for knowledge's sake. So, I'm proposing that Tyrion takes a double major in history and geography. The former because of interest, the latter because of his proven aptitude for urban planning (totally revamping the sewer system of Casterly Rock, among other things). An alternative suggestion from twitter noted that Tyrion would excel in entrepreneurship due to his tactical genius.

Joffrey Baratheon - Joffrey is pretty much the worst. Arrogant, sadistic, narcissistic, sociopathic... these words only capture a fraction of Joffrey's enormous jerkitude. That's pretty much all there is to the young prince. So, I'll give Joffrey a biology/zoology major. Not because I have anything against biology... but because that's the only major I can think of that could be expected to work closely with feces. That way, we wouldn't be totally wrong in saying that Joffrey studies turdology (credit to my fiancee Caity for that one).

House Targaryen

Daenerys Targaryen - From fleeing refugee, to Khaleesi of a Dothraki horde,  to mother of dragons and freer of slaves, Daenerys "Stormborn" has an uncanny ability to attract loyal followers, much like her princely brother Rhaegar once did. As she dreams of one day returning to Westeros to reclaim her "rightful" place on the iron throne, it's a useful quality to have. In addition to her political ambitions, Dany also has a knack for languages - she speaks the common tongue of Westeros, and learns many others, including Valyrian and Dothraki. However, it's her role as champion of the lower classes that truly sets Dany apart. For my part, this indicates that Dany would enjoy studying social work. Another suggestion from twitter was linguistics and pyrochemical engineering. I could see it going either way.

I wanted to do a whole bunch more characters initially, but this is already getting to be a lengthy post. So, instead of me going on about it, what do you think? Leave a comment about characters I missed and what you think they would choose to study in university!

SFU Health and Counselling Services
Registered Clinical Counsellor
David Lindskoog is a Registered Clinical Counsellor at Health & Counselling who used to work as a Career Advisor with Career Services. David is passionate about suicide prevention, social justice, career and professional development concerns, and the use of role-playing games in therapy. Check out his group: Dungeons & Worry Dragons. While you're here, check out Dave's Diary! It is an ongoing series of journal entries touching on various aspects related to careers and well-being. Want to hear Dave's thoughts on a particular topic?  Send him an email, and he'll do his best to include it in his next post!  
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Jun 27, 2012

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