University Part II: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Updated: Apr 23, 2019
I had a pretty good gut feeling about heading off to university this time around, but that didn't stop the little niggles in my mind, "what if it turns out like last time?" "what if your depression gets worse?" "what if everyone hates you?" Despite the niggles I was amazed at how calm I was about it all, and it just goes to show how much I changed during my two years in Paris, and how much Paris helped me.
My organisational skills haven't changed that much though. I still turned up in Maastricht with no apartment, no job and no idea of how I was going to fund my way through university after my savings ran out. But, surprisingly, I really wasn't that bothered.
My gut feeling was right though, this time university was everything I expected it to be the first time around. I love the people I've met, my course and the city. I'm the happiest that I've been in the last 4 years. So many people believe the degree I'm doing to be a 'doss' degree. The running joke here is what am I going to do with a degree in liberal arts? I poke fun at it myself too, but I'll defend it to the end. It allows me to pick what interests me, in a way that a dual degree would never allow. I've been able to explore a multitude of subjects from law to migration studies to European integration. I can study each topic from multiple angles, looking at the different aspects: historical, psychological, sociological, legal, philosophical. I've had my traditional assumptions challenged, debated and reaffirmed or altered. Why put different subjects in their own closed box when nothing in the world works that way, everything is interlinked and intertwined. There isn't just one factor or one outcome there are so many, from so many different perspectives, for so many different reasons, so why don't we study it that way?
I've joined a rowing association, I'm on the board of the Musical Committee, I help out with an initiative called Maastricht goes to Calais, which helps displaced people living there since the jungle has been dismantled. I have a job. I'm surrounded by the best people. I would not have thought any of this possible when I was back at university the first time around. I never thought I could enjoy university, or enjoy what I'm studying. Back then, I thought it would always be a three year slog to just get through it and get a degree.
I'm already a few months further along than my last time at uni, and I have no thoughts of dropping out (however many times I mention it in exam week)! It's crazy how quickly this year has gone, and I think part of that is that I'm not counting down to the end of my degree, I'm living every single day and I don't want it to end. That's not to say everything is perfect, I still have times where it all feels too much. Or weeks where I question if I've actually made friends at uni, and think everyone hates me. I question if I'm just making myself believe that I'm enjoying it, or if I actually am. If I'm putting in enough work, if my GPA is high enough, if I'm doing too much or not enough. I worry about money, about finding a place to live next year, about falling off my bike drunk (again) but they're all typical student worries. I don't wonder if this is the place I'm meant to be because I know it is. This time around university was the right choice.
I spend six weeks studying the most interesting things: if the idea of Salomé and its reinterpretations oppressed or liberated women, how the Eastern enlargement impacted European identity, the role of the IOM and voluntary return migration programmes, the needs of victims after atrocities and what they're legally entitled to. I've realised how many different things interest me and spent 6 weeks learning about things I'd never heard of before, only to come to the end of the course feeling more ignorant and uneducated than when I begun. But that's university. I take my exams and I move onto the next six weeks and new courses. I've fallen back in love with learning. I've been introduced to theories, concepts and cultures that I've never come across before.
So despite the exam-week breakdowns, turning up to rehearsals completely unprepared, forgetting about competition weekends and generally being covered in drunk bruises I'm having a pretty great time.