Hero to Zero
University definitely has a strange effect on people.
I went to a secondary school in the middle of a pretty crappy estate of a nearby town and me and my friends were the nerdy bunch in all of the top sets. If someone wanted some help, they’d all come to one of us because we enjoyed learning and actually listened to the teachers amongst the ball throwing and the singing and the jaffa cake eating contests. We would regularly get chosen to go on gifted and talented events which would be things like making a cart out of paper and split pins to see who’s would carry an egg the furthest. It was really fun and everyone who got picked was the envy of all the other people who had to stay in school – apart from the time we got back to find our English class had spent the lesson re-enacting the second world war with screwed up paper as bombs and tables as trenches. I was definitely jealous about that one.
Anyway, since my secondary school didn’t have a sixth form (which is the two year school/college place between secondary school and sixth form – kind of an attachment of a normal secondary school), everyone had to leave and go to different places. I lived quite far away from the secondary school, so I ended up going to a different sixth form than most of my classmates. The sixth form I went to was in a much more middle class village where most of the students came from. It had a completely different atmosphere to my secondary school – I mean, it had an art gallery! There was less of the yoghurt-being-thrown-everywhere at lunch times and more of the will-you-check-the-extra-homework-I’ve-done-please-miss? Suddenly I wasn’t the one everyone turned to for help. I wasn’t even top of the class, but I still felt like I understood everything and I still really enjoyed all my lessons.
Now though, at university, the people who got the grades to go were probably all top in their class. All the ones people turned to for help and all the ones that really enjoyed their subjects. So now I find myself definitely not top of the class. Not really even middle, I don’t think. Probably just below average if I’m lucky. It’s a bit of a culture shock, I tell you! I still mostly enjoy what I’m learning and some things are really interesting. It’s just there seems so much to learn that you can’t really appreciate what you’re learning. It’s all a mass of facts and numbers and equations and snippets of information you’re hoping will (or more likely, won’t) be asked in an exam.
I guess it’s something I’ve got to get used to – a different way of learning and remembering and being surrounded by people who are maybe better than me at this style of learning. In fact I’ve had lots of conversations with people who feel the same way, how they used to be top in their class but somehow being at university makes you feel really stupid. One person said that at the beginning of the year, they would have been gutted if they didn’t get a first overall, now they’re just praying to pass the first year at all! I know exactly what they mean and it’s a completely different way of thinking.
It’s funny – when I was preparing to go to university, I didn’t think about the actual learning side of things at all. I was too excited/nervous about living away from home and having to buy food, cook food, do laundry etc to worry about anything else and I just assumed I’d be ok with it all and I’d just take it as it came. I think that’s all you really can do to be honest. Now that I’ve nearly finished my first year though, I find it’s the learning and studying that’s much harder than remembering to keep the fridge stocked and do the laundry BEFORE you run out of clothes.
Hey, ho! We’ll see how everything turns out after results and go from there. After all, you can only do your best!