(January 24, 2002, Gazette)
pumped. Holidays are over and here we all are, back for another semester
of enlightenment. Ready to discuss, argue, study, suggest, invent, shovel,
create, and do everything else this institution of higher learning does.
After almost a month of being reminded why I want to blow up my television,
Im glad to be back in school. However, after discussing the new
semester with some colleagues over the last couple of days, I see that
not everyone feels the same. I cant say Im surprised since
I can still remember a time when I hated coming to school. But, on second
thought, this is university. Isnt this the time of our lives when
we do what we want? Now, when we finally start to be recognized as adults
and redefine our roles as human beings, why are some students still unhappy?
Without stereotyping people too horrendously, I suggest that certain types
of students meet the new semester with trepidation for certain reasons.
Many MUN students dont enjoy the courses they take in first and
second year, and who can blame them? In an effort to get into their department
of choice, or just out of indecision, they enrol in courses they wouldnt
normally take. Some attend the first week of classes, find out they cant
understand a word their teacher is saying, and sign up instead for Breezeway
101 (or better yet sleep in). Even the ones who are lucky enough to get
audible teachers often just squeak by. Why is that? Its probably
because they didnt really enjoy learning about the subject in the
first place. If theyre not going to like the subject matter, and
they wont learn much from the class, then why should they have to
take it? I can only suggest that in some cases it is for their own benefit.
Even if a person can go through life without ever having to speak French,
chances are they will have to use math at some time. Similarly, if a student
cant write in coherent sentences, then how can they be expected
to write up a business report or proposal?
For many, MUN serves as purgatory. They are here to get somewhere else.
Some want just enough credits to raise their average in hopes of being
accepted somewhere on the mainland. Other students who belong in this
group have rejected their parents ideas of the four-year path of
business and engineering, and quick money, for occupations that they feel
more suited for. Still, they dont want their parents, or perhaps
the loan office, to think that all theyll get out of their university
education is a full time job at The Gap. With an undergrad degree from
MUN in the bag, these students can aim for film studies at York or Ryerson,
law school at UNB, architecture at McGill, or for a masters degree
from anywhere but here. In this way, these students can keep themselves
happy while at the same time pacifying the great expectations of the folks
Then there are the floaters. People who dont want to be miserable
in a job they hate and therefore spend the first three years of their
university career testing the waters of every subject in the university
registration booklet. Torn between a kind of pseudo-freedom, a mishmash
vocabulary of scholarly terms from every department, and a growing sense
of guilt at spending their parents money, these high-aiming and often
idealistic folk often end up spending more than half their lives in school.
Many of these creatures settle for a temporary career, or
listen to their parents advice and spend a couple of years studying
something they hate. Taking this advice, they end up bitter and jaded,
and blame their parents for their hellish career, miserable life, and
just about every other disappointment they have encountered.
Finally, MUN can serve as a means to an end. Most of the higher paying
jobs these days, except that of a professional athlete, require some form
of post-secondary education. Therefore, people enroll in university in
the hope of getting a better job than those who have only a high school
diploma. The majority of people in this category come for four or, in
most cases, five years, balance work and study well enough to get decent
grades, and leave with that crazy piece of paper which allows them to
start at a decent salary and begin real life. However, some of these quick-road-to-success
people treat MUN like a fast food joint; as they are only here long enough
to catch a class or two, and are in a hell of a hurry to be somewhere
else. Between benders at the Breezeway and midnight cram sessions, they
hope to squeak through on luck and a photographic memory. Fortunately,
for jealous people like me who actually study, most of these people fail
From all accounts I have heard, life tends to speed up after university.
The friends you once had leave to lead lives all over the country, or
maybe even the world. Your job becomes your life, and chances are one
day youll find someone youre really happy with. Before you
know it, you have a family, and your kids are heading off to their first
day or school. Chances are, most of us will look back at our university
days as some of the best times in our lives. A time with few cares, lots
of friends, and a bunch of hazy booze-and-whatever induced memories to
look back on and smile. So why are we so depressed to be back? Cheer up,
who cares if you cant understand your math teacher or if your lab
partner is evil? If we dont enjoy ourselves while we are young,
then when are we going to enjoy ourselves?