I gotta admit: I left this to the last minute. I had great plans to give every other respectable blogger wannabe a run for their money because I was going to come in with a bang: but alas, I will blame any signs of underperformance on you, Miss Queensland University of Technology: you’ve been keeping me under wraps.
I am old – I guess not old, but older than your typical university first year student. And I suppose that doesn’t matter one bit when it comes to a new experience like being a uni student for the first time. I had the same first day chills as everyone else: Should I wake up extra early to figure out the bus timetables? Do kids these days still scribble notes by hand? Do I wear a dress or do I wear pants? Will I meet ten cool people today? Five? One? Will I awkwardly sit alone outside the library eating a ham sandwich? I really don’t want to sit outside the library eating a ham sandwich.
I was also thoroughly confused by the geography of the hilly Kelvin Grove campus. Where is Z block? Is it just before Y block? Why are there so many stairs leading nowhere? Where is the library? Where can I get my student card? If I were to collapse on the floor from stair-climbing exhaustion, where would they take me for recoup? Etc.
Post-traumatic first day stress aside, I survived. And now, weeks later, I am dealing with a wholly new set of issues: assignments, keeping up with content, borrowing camera equipment, juggling work and study schedules… and… yes, avoiding sitting outside the library eating ham sandwiches.
I guess the most daunting thing about being new, anywhere, is the fear we might spend the remaining three (or four, or five – six if you’re a real trooper and want to be poor forever) years of your student life friendless and a little isolated. Don’t get me wrong, I am a perfectly presentable young lady with good table manners and straight, mostly white, teeth, but as one of my lecturers said last week – in a university as big as QUT, it is quite easy to feel detached. At first, specially.
Here’s how it works: you walk in on a Monday morning, sit in a lecture with 200 other people, walk out, walk into your tutorial class, really hit it off with a couple of people there (or worse, no one wants to talk to you because they’re all straight out of Year 12 and shy as hell), and then – ring, ring, time’s up, see you next week class. And you realize, one hour is hardly a decent amount of time to establish any decent sort of connection with anyone. Ever. In all the time of times.
You’re probably wondering – why are you stressing this relationship thing so much? You may think, dude, chill, uni is a place where you go to study. You are probably happy getting your social fix on the weekend over beers at Cartel, Ric’s Bar, the Regatta, your mate’s verandah, or even your grandma’s hair salon (nothing wrong with that, she deserves it.) But I don’t know sometimes. I am convinced there is more to social interaction than recreational weekend activities – and I guess this is why I have been so excited to finally be at uni, where everyone is more or less young and carefree and open to new ideas and experiences. Ready to connect.
Have you ever watched that movie, Dead Poet’s Society? Well, it’s about a private high school and a bunch of boys and a teacher who makes the boys really enjoy poetry and suddenly they’re all really good friends and reciting poems inside a cave every other night. The great thing about the movie is, I guess, that they form a real special bond with one another by sharing this one interest. What I’m trying to get at is this: our uni teachers are really the facilitators of our day-to-day study life, but if we really want to engage then we need to work up the guts to share our interests – or passions – with each other. And yes, studying is really important and the key reason why we come to QUT every day. But being open to new friendships and ready to lap up some carpe diem should be your goal when you come into uni. Actually – it’s more like a duty.
Looking ahead this year, I am excited about the prospect of being able to connect with you, avid blog reader, and QUT itself as both our physical environment and a space for growing and developing our fully sick ideas. I think blogging is such a powerful tool for documenting. And I think capturing the experience of being in first year into words, thoughts, drawings, comic strips, photos, videos or whatever else can be of immense value, and help, and overall a really fun task. A master mission.
So what of it?
Will the kids at the Gardens Point campus ever smile at me? Will Centrelink finally process my backlogged application? Will I come to terms with never getting a decent night’s sleep? Do you know how to throw the ultimate student barbie in your own backyard?
You and I have a lot of ground to cover.