As I type this, there is the lovely sounds of cicadas outside, and the sun is starting to hide behind the clouds. My room is dimly lit, and I’m home from a day of lectures. I believe that university is not the only road to succeed. It’s a place to learn, expand our knowledge and learn new skills. Though, often university is tied into the belief that everyone must finish high school, go to university, graduate, find a great job and get married. The reality is that everyone is on their own journey. There are some people who will go to uni and then there are some who won’t. Writing this article out feels like a breath of fresh air.
I left home at 16 and started my first year at university. At the time I was studying a Bachelor of Music in Classical Performance, majoring on the flute. Fast track two years, I was 18 and didn’t feel that it was the right path for me anymore. I moved to Sydney and studied a Fashion course for a year, and gained a few internship experiences, work experiences and life lessons. It was a really beneficial time for my self growth. I’m a firm believer of going for what feels right in your heart. If you have a goal set in your mind, the only downside you could face is failure. If you don’t try then you’ll never know.
Work experience is so important. I knew several people in Sydney who didn’t have a degree, but built their work experience over years and years. However, I do find that in our generation, a huge majority of jobs require a tertiary education. Timing is everything. This time round, I felt a little more wiser and more mature. There was more sureness of what I’d like to achieve in my life, and I felt more desire to learn new things. I’d learned a lot of lessons you learn out of school, but there are certain skills for specific jobs, that you can really learn in more depth when you go to school.
Employment is something that every graduate wants to achieve. One of the things I learned through my work experiences is that they are valuable. An employer is often (though not always) likely to give a position to someone who has a tertiary education and also has had experience in that field. Education is supposed to benefit ourselves, and work experience is where we can apply it. What I learned in my previous degree was not applied in my life, because I decided not to work in that field. Whereas, if you study a degree that can help expand your skills for a certain career, then you will apply that knowledge.
As a young adult, I cope with stress far better than when I was teenager. I’m able to balance a more healthy lifestyle, and not be too hard on myself for every small thing. It’s never too late to do what feels right. I was sitting in class the other week, and there was a gentleman roughly in his 60’s. There are plenty of adults at all sorts of age that return to study. It might be due to a career change or a desire to learn more about an area of interest. One thing I’d like to stress is that university is not for everyone. Once upon a time, it wasn’t for me. But as I mentioned, we all have a different journey.
Now, it feels much more enjoyable, because I’m more sure of where I’d like my degree to take me. It’s common that people will switch degrees, take a gap year, drop out or return to study. The truth is that the first time round, I felt lost. It wasn’t until I traveled to Australia, that I really found more of myself and grew more as a person. Personally, I felt less able to grow during my last time in uni. In my first year of uni in 2013 I had depression near the end of the year and didn’t cope well. There’s often an emphasis that university will help us grow, but it’s really all the experiences we have in our daily lives no matter where we are.
The first time, I felt that the paper I’d receive when I graduated wouldn’t help very much if I didn’t feel the desire to work in the industry any more. It also wouldn’t of made sense to spend another year of tuition fee to study a course I didn’t have my heart in. I really do believe if you go to university, it’s important to think about where you’d like your studies to take you, how you want it to benefit you in your life and what your true interests are. Work takes up a significant percentage of our lives. University is for those with a desire to learn about a certain subject area. It’s not a ticket for success, but a place to learn.
Photography by Eefje De Coninck
Life is fleeting. Time never stops or waits for us, but it teaches us many valuable lessons in our lives. Recently, I experienced a loss of a close member of my family. She was intelligent, strong and wise. As a young girl, I looked at the younger photos of her, and saw the beauty and grace she possessed. The kind that comes naturally. She wrote beautifully, and taught my sister and I how to write calligraphy, and would never cease to remind us of the importance, the art and the beauty of the Chinese language. There was an energy of encouragement to always learn something new. It’s a reminder of how important it is to treasure our lives.
No matter what age we are, we’ll always be learning. That is one of the many gifts of life. Education doesn’t stop after you graduate, because we learn various lessons throughout our lives. Knowledge is limitless, and there is always something to learn in each new day. When you experience a loss, it makes you really realise that we will all die someday. It’s a natural process of life, and it reminds us to make the most of it. The koi fish above symbolise good fortune in Japanese culture. My grandmother practiced Buddhism for as long as I can remember. I still remember her telling me a mosquito was in her room, but she couldn’t kill it.
I thought of Koi fishes, because when I was younger, there were many of them in the water below the bridge that we would often walk on every time we visited her. They are such beautiful creatures. The speech by David Foster Wallace reminds us that we have a choice in life. Everyone will have those small moments in their day to day lives, where they blank out or feel frustrated. Those are often the moments that we can create meaning in, or we can ignore them and let them pass. It’s okay to feel sad, and it’s okay to feel those feelings that we all go through.
Let’s appreciate how much life is around us, and be grateful for those who are and have been in our lives. Every person we encounter teaches us something new. Nobody is perfect. Nobody can stay young forever, but they can always be young at heart. That tells us how important it is to see things with your heart more often, even when the world tells us to look with our eyes. I saw an advertisement recently that read seeing is believing. They were pointing towards the discounts they were having. I’d like to think that actually believing is seeing. As always, in The Little Prince, it says But the eyes are blind. One must look with the heart…