So today’s post will be a little different, and possibly a little longer than my usual posts. Some of you may know that I’m currently in university, and in 2017 I finished my first year, so before I move into my second year next week, I thought I would share my experience with you all. Hopefully you don’t mind me taking a tiny break from my usual posts to give you all this insight into my life.
I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Arts, in Music Industry. It was my first preference, and the course I set out to do a whole two years before I even finished high school. I am beyond grateful to be in the course, I love every part of it, the good and the bad, and I’m excited as heck to move into second year. But as expected, like a lot of people in their first year of university or college or even full time work, I had a couple of set backs and personal issues I definitely had to overcome.
I’m positive it’s slightly different wherever you’re from, but here in Australian, and more specifically my state Victoria, all Year 12 students sit VCE exams, which, combined with assessment and coursework scores from throughout the year, give you a final result out of 50 for each subject. These scores then average out or some maths equations take place, and you’re left with a decimal mark out of 100. This is your final ATAR score, and usually decides what you can immediately do after high school. This by no means at all defines what you can and can’t do, I for one loathe the whole situation and despise being pitted against every other 17/18 year old in my state. I know a lot of people who decided to do Year 12 un-scored and are completely happy with what they’re are doing. There are also people who may not have gotten the score they wanted, but have found alternatives that they can do, which can lead them to eventually securing a spot in the course of their choice.
However, ATAR was never a problem for me. This sounds conceited as heck, but I promise I don’t mean it like that. For my course in particular, the ATAR was in the range that I saw I could make if I worked hard enough, but also, there was a lot of reliance on my personal statement and any prior musical experience and work that I had under my belt already. With that in mind, I was a whole point off the entry ATAR for my course, so I can definitely assume that my personal statement and prior musical history and experience secured that final point for me.
Now onto the actual course. I was scared as shit. Prior to starting uni I was always a very social person. I still am. I can be very confident, loud and extroverted, at times quite obnoxious. But going to uni was a big shock for me. The first drawback for me, was that in my course, I knew absolutely no-one. While some of my other friends had a whole group of girls from my school doing their course, sharing subjects with them, I had not a single person that I knew, going into the class. It was so daunting for me, coming from a high school where no joke, half the year level went to primary school with me too. It brought out this super introverted, shy, anxiety-riddled side of me that was very much suppressed throughout all of high school. Not even during exams did I feel stressed or over-worked or nervous, yet I remember exactly a year ago, really, really panicking.
To add on to this, and emphasise this loneliness even further, my university is literally the city. The campus is spread all over the CBD and surrounding inner suburbs, and while two of my best friends were going to the same uni and I, the chances of us catching up or bumping into each other regularly were slim. It was daunting going into the city every day, by myself, to be in a room full of strangers.
Then the classes. I do remember, I took a literature subject in my first semester, and that literally knocked the wind out of me. While I did literature in Year 11, and it was one of my VCE subjects, it was basic literature. This was Literary Realism to Post Modernism, and having had one semester of Philosophy and zero background in History other than the compulsory one semester in Year 11, I had a major meltdown after the first week. I was assigned a book a week, and as much as I love reading, they were hard, hefty books to read and I was mentally drained after reading them. That was an elective so thank the lords that I only endured it for a semester.
However, my anxiety definitely kicked up within my main course. A blessing and a curse really, as only last year was I finally able to confront myself about it completely honestly, and then in turn be open about it to my mum who was a huge help. However, it was brought on by the main course I’m doing, Music Industry, and this overwhelming sense of being really small and irrelevant and not nearly half as good as the people I was around. I was being surrounded by people who were gigging every week, who knew their way around a mixing desk like the back of their hand or were just incredibly, super talented in whatever aspect of the music industry they wanted to pursue, and I had no idea how me and my little songs really fit into it, as stupid as that sounds now. Like I’m not cutting myself down, because I definitely have faith in myself, but sitting in a lecture hall next to 60 other people who were already getting on with it, and getting on with it slightly better than I was, was hard. So much so to the point where I was getting panic attacks on the train into uni, or while sitting in the middle of a lecture next to my friends, because I had made friends, yet I was still so anxious about being there in general. I had to start bringing an inhaler with me everywhere and tracking when and where I was whenever an attack came on. I was waking up with the worst chest pain I’ve every experienced. I’ve always used the saying ‘weight on my shoulders’ metaphorically, but it became very literal for me, as if someone had locked me in to this iron clasp that strapped from my left side near my ribs, across my chest and over my right shoulder. When the doctor finally told me what it was, it began clicking, every time it happened, that I was really panicking and stressing myself out about uni, the people around me, my worth and my future.
However, throughout it all, I was ridiculously in love with what I was doing. The course itself was incredible. I learnt how to schedule a music tour, how to finally use synths and record myself properly, I got 24 hour access to state of the art recording studios and I was literally writing about Kendrick Lamar and Rihanna and give group presentations about super heroes for popular culture classes. It didn’t seem like work most of the time, and this brings us to my next point.
While I was going through these panic attacks and feeling so tiny and lonely in the huge city that Melbourne is, I spent most of last year, so grateful to be where I was, doing what I was doing. After going through most of high school doing subjects and learning things that had little relevance to my life or what I planned for my future, it was a breathe of fresh air to finally being learning things that I could really truly use, around people who were just as invested in the music industry as I was. Majority of the subjects I did in high school, I did because there were no other options. If there were options for me then I definitely would not have being doing Health and Human Development and Business Management. The one certificate course I did do, involved me leaving my high school three hours early every Wednesday to travel to another high school, where the subject was offered and credited.
Finally being in a course where I’m doing what I’m passionate about and what I love has been a huge game changer and eye opener for me, and has definitely made me appreciate the opportunity to learn 100 times more than I ever thought I would.
Second semester was ultimately a lot better for me. My little trio of friends had solidified itself, and I was doing another set of interesting subjects; my main subject for Music Industry, a cinema subject and another class focused around MTV and music videos. The projects were all fun, the assignments interesting and it was a lot easier on me mentally than the first semester. What had previously freaked me out about the whole ordeal, now seemed to come so naturally to me. While before I had felt so small and irrelevant in the city, I now have this sense of freedom while wondering to and from classes, or taking breaks in the huge library that’s literally a tourist attraction across the road from my class. Walking around the city by myself has become one of my favourite things to do during my long breaks between classes, and where beforehand I was intimidated and scared to be around a bunch of strangers, it’s now slightly comforting. Coming from a smaller all-girls school, there was not a lot of your business that stayed your business, however at university, everyone has their own life outside of it, that only they know. It’s a fresh start and it was only when I came to this realisation that I could really finally be a bit more relaxed, a bit more chilled out and myself for the three or four days that I was at uni, that I started to enjoy it more and get a lot more out of it.
I did have some stressful moments. We all do. Towards the end of the year when I had my second semester assignments due, my stress levels started to rise again, however I managed to find a groove and a pattern that really worked well for me. Being the night owl that I am, I thrived while staying up late and smashing out several assignments in one go, then taking time the next day to fix them up. I managed to hand in majority of my final assignments a couple of days early, which increased my holidays by a week or so and I managed to keep myself accountable and on top of things, which is where I fell short in first semester.
I know it’s pretty late for a 2017 reflection but I’m gonna do it anyway. I definitely did not plan to write as much as I did, or what I did, but I’m glad that it happened. 2017 was a huge year of growth for me, possibly down to really being on my own, being my own person and taking charge of what I wanted out of my year. It definitely helped me focus a lot on what I want to achieve and what I’ll define as success, if it comes to me. Whenever someone asks me about university and my course, I never hesitate to tell them that I love it. I definitely had really shitty moments, but we all do, so I know I’m not the only one in that particular boat, and I genuinely had an amazing first year. I know several people who really didn’t find what they were looking for in 2017 course-wise and I count myself lucky that I knew what I wanted to do, and that I had the perfect opportunity and course that fit me. Hopefully 2018 only gets better.
So yeah, hopefully that wasn’t too full on and was a nice change from what I usually bring you. I’d love to hear your opinions about the whole ‘college/university’ thing and how you’re going if you’re in the same boat as me! Hope you enjoyed reading!