I love University because I love learning; it’s that simple. I’m not always the most eager to head back to classes after a long, relaxing summer break. But once I’m there, I forget about how bad I make it out to be. I am so grateful that I chose such a great University to attend. I love the program that I chose, and I love that I can actually take classes that I like, am passionate about, and am good at. And I love that I’m actually able to CHOOSE my education, because I am very privileged and many people around the world do not have that option.
It wasn’t always like this though; I use to hate school. I despised high school and the educational system they have currently set up. I do not agree with the way things are run, and how students are treated and marked. In high school, I always thought I was stupid. I was forced to take classes that I didn’t even like or excel at, and this resulted in me getting poor marks. They tell you that you need math and science for the real world, but in reality, I haven’t even used anything I’ve learned like trigonometry or biology once in my everyday life. This is because I am not going into a field that requires either of those things. In high school, I excelled at English, history, and the arts. I liked those classes because I was good at them. I hated math and science and would cry over how stressed they made me. I shaped my opinion about myself over the fact that these two classes brought my overall average grade down, as well as the fact that it is just plain discouraging to have to take ‘applied’ classes, vs ‘academic’, which is the regular.
So I spent four years thinking I was stupid. I never thought I would attend university. I thought that maybe I’d just go to the local college in my area. But when application time rolled around, my friends invited me to go see Trent University with them, and I absolutely fell in love. It forced me to start thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. I remember one day, a while before this, my friends and I were having a conversation, and I asked them, “if you could have any job in the world, what would you choose?” and they both replied, “teacher,”. When they asked me, I said I would choose to be a director/film maker. Then my one friend asked me, “well, why is that just a dream for you? Why not make that into a reality?”
Those words changed my life. Because after that I started thinking to myself, ya, why is that such a far fetched dream? Why can’t I go to school for that and work towards my goals? It also made me realize how passionate I was about writing/film/photography. Because in high school, I was conditioned to think ‘logically’, and to pursue a job or career that is a) high paying, b) realistic, c) fits the norms of society. I had never even considered being a writer of filmmaker. But after those words, I started to consider it.
I also just want to point out that I despise the school system when it comes to deciding on a career. Literally at the age of 17 you must decide what you want to do for the rest of your life.. Nobody knows such a thing at that age. But we have to decide, then apply to schools, then go to school. And so many people drop out after the first year because it wasn’t for them or they were failing. If it were more accepted in our society (North America) to take a gap year to travel, work, experience the world and acquire our own knowledge and opportunities, than maybe more people would do that instead of feeling pressured to jump right from high school to college/university.
Note: I also hate how high school tests and exams are graded. You learn everything from a semester, then the exam requires you to stuff as much things into your brain the night before, memorize it all, and rehearse it back the next day on paper. This isn’t how we learn. This isn’t how we should be tested. It’s all about memorization, and if you can’t remember things well, you are screwed. That was me.
My favourite class in my University career thus far has been a class called Narrative and Performance. I took it last year (second year) and it was a part of my major, cultural/media studies. The professor was Ian, and he was an older British gentleman. He told us how he didn’t believe in the standard way that students are taught; the whole, professor talking at you in large groups such as a lecture hall. He believes in teacher/student interaction – talking face to face, understanding each other, learning from your fellow peers. So that is what we did. Each week, we’d have a 3 hour workshop. We would move our chairs so we were seated in a circle, then we would literally talk for the next three hours. A little bit about the readings, but then we would venture off to so much more. We would all share our experiences, our stories, what we’ve learned in life, etc. And that class was my absolute favourite because I actually felt a genuine connection to the class. I learned so much, and not just stuff you get from a textbook. But genuine experiences and lessons learned from people.
I believe in all sorts of learning. I scroll down Instagram and read people’s stories and lessons that they learned. I go on Tumblr and learn SO much about social activism: racism, equal rights, veganism, feminism, stereotypes, body positivity, poverty, educational systems, etc. I scroll down my Facebook news feed and read articles about what is happening in our world today. I read books and watch documentaries about conspiracy theories on 9/11 or how factory farming is destroying our planet. I travel the world and experience different people and cultures, and not only learn about others, but I learn about myself. I just LOVE learning.
Now with all that being said, I do still believe we as humans can benefit so much from going to university and college. I respect people who decide to drop out and pursue alternate forms of learning, or becoming entrepreneurs at a young age and starting their own business. Or hell, even working 9-5 at a shitty job just so they can save money to travel. I appreciate and respect those people. But personally, I love and appreciate my university education. It has taught me so much that never occurred to me in the real world. I read my textbooks and go to lectures. I engage with my professors and other students. And I have a genuine understanding of the content I am being presented with. It’s only been three months so far, (I just started my third year) and already I feel so overwhelmed and enlightened with all this new knowledge.
I am happy that I can take classes that I actually love and excel at. I find you learn better when you are actually interested in the topic. For my final assignments of this semester, I get to write about: 1) War Photography, mass media, and propaganda, 2) A comparative essay on British vs American television (I chose to do The Walking Dead vs In the Flesh), 3) Creating art 4) Literally writing a research paper topic on how animal agriculture is destroying our planet. 5) How women are objectified in hip-hop music and culture.
I have learned so much that I had not even a clue about before, and I just feel so enlightened. I get so excited to tell my parents and friends about all the stuff I’ve learned so far because I just think it’s valuable information that could benefit others, and I want to help spread the knowledge and educate others.
So that is why I love university. Because I love learning, and I love who I am becoming.