In my ﬁnal year of high school (2019), I had big plans for uni all mapped out. I’d never been more excited for anything else – I think all the years throughout my childhood spent consuming coming-of-age movies and TV had pretty much prepared me to feel that way. The expectations were deﬁnitely there, albeit romanticised and exaggerated, and as much as I know to take everything you see on the big screen with a grain of salt, I couldn’t lie: I was excited.
But none of us could have anticipated the pandemic was going to happen so soon and so suddenly. Before everything, security and certainty was something I think I took for granted. Like with many others, my plans have deﬁnitely steered off course since. I ended up going to a local private university and taking an entirely different course from what I originally had in mind, and even now with graduation coming up in a few more semesters I’m still not entirely sure what I want to do next for my degree, especially knowing from previous experience that anything could change at any moment.
The reality of college thus far has been nothing like the movies. Granted I was always aware that the depiction of uni life in ﬁlms is often just an idealised representation of it, but my experience so far has not been remotely close to anything shown on screen. It’s day in and day out of monotone online classes in Zoom meetings with up to 100 people (we have large classes, which doesn’t translate well for remote learning) and subsequently, barely any lecturer-student interaction.
That doesn’t leave much room to get to know your coursemates either. It’s harder not to zone out and distract myself with anything that meant not paying attention. The assignments and tests are about the only ways I get to actually engage with the material, and even then it all feels very self-taught. It feels like I’m just taking a long-term online course instead of completing my pre-u studies right now.
I guess it’s not all that bad though, I don’t want to be too pessimistic. In a way I suppose it’s left me with some important lessons about regulation, discipline, and the sorts. Balance work and play, be sensible enough to get assignments done before I boot up that video game, especially now that I’m more or less on my own looking out for myself, academic performance-wise, and so on. And there’s a fair amount of independent learning involved too so the circumstances did present the chance to hone my own self-supervision skills, which can’t be a bad thing.
Still, I can’t forget that two years ago I thought I’d be sitting on campus grounds right now with a new group of friends, fresh out of a long lecture and having heated discussions about what to have for lunch while trying not to burn under the afternoon sun. In this day and age, experiences like that (once so simple, so normal) seem almost like distant dreams – but maybe I’m exaggerating. At the end of each day, I will continue to choose to be hopeful that those days could one day return, even if a little differently than how we’d imagined before. As frustrating as everything is right now, I think we all need some optimism. There’s nothing wrong with choosing hope, right?
About the Author – Rina is a 19 year old attending a diploma course at a private local university