The Want of a Hug and a Home-Cooked Meal (Johanna)

On Sunday night last week, on a whim, I caught the train back to Geelong even though I had to come into uni on Monday morning. It was so nice to be back, even if it were only for the shortest while. I got to sleep in my own bed! My puppy was so happy to see me, my brother and sisters were just as bratty as ever (how lovely!) and my Mum made a gloriously homey meal including her famous potato salad. *SIGH!*

It was great, but I was so sad when I had to leave. I cried and I didn’t want to go; I’m not quite as happy as I was when it started. Literature is full of .. well, brats (in reality, I would substitute that word for one beginning with ‘w’ and ending in ‘ankers’!). Everybody goes on and on about ‘existentialism’, and I doubt that any of them know what it even means.

When I was working on The Wizard of Oz last year (I played a tree – stop laughing now), I always thought Dorothy’s little speech at the end of the second act was stupid – “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard, because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.” I used to put so much energy into estranging myself from my hometown and my family, because I assumed that something ANYTHING else would be better and more exciting. But now, all I want to do is go home and be surrounded by familiar things and familiar people who I love. I guess more than anything else, it’s loneliness that is getting to me here. I haven’t made any friends yet, which makes things infinitely harder.

I handed in my first assignment last week – a philosophy paper. It was so HARD! Imagine being asked to critically evaluate an entire philosophical article in 500 words – hell. I struggled with it; so many things to say, and such a constrained limit. This week holds two more due assignments for me, alas.. I haven’t started either of them. An essay on a Mesopotamian or Egyptian object, as well as a poetry analysis paper for lit.

Uni just isn’t really turning out the way it was supposed to. I imagined that it would be this forum for brilliant, learned people to meet and discuss ideas and learn things together… but to be completely honest, a lot of the people in my classes don’t seem to be ‘right’ for university. There are show-off brats, and people who don’t care, and rude people, and malicious people. On Friday, I had my first case of bullying since junior high school … what a shock. Nobody is half as smart, diplomatic, mature or open-minded as I imagined they would be. In all honesty and bluntness, I don’t like university. Maybe, hopefully, this will change next year when some of the people who have been nasty to me have dropped out or changed courses, but at the moment, I am not having fun.

2 thoughts on “The Want of a Hug and a Home-Cooked Meal (Johanna)

  1. First of all, *hug* 😀

    Whilst some people take to life at university like a duck to water, others, after the first few weeks’ novelty has worn off, ask themselves: “What am I doing here?” I know the feeling and ended up dropping law to get away from pompous scum (among other reasons). First year is a little hard if you’re not an animated extrovert *cough*, and it can be difficult making friends because people naturally put up barriers and become self-conscious when confronted with new and awkward surroundings. I still have memories of the funeral-esque atmosphere in Quantitative Methods 1 – it was almost like a room of sitting corpses but for the tutor’s rambling. I’ve drawn a daunting picture there, but after everyone adapts, it gets better. Come second semester, you’ll find things much easier. I’m now good friends with someone who was originally in my QM1 class but didn’t talk to until 2nd year, so fear not, there is hope yet. So, though you may feel lonely, you are not alone, just remember that most everyone else is in the same boat.

    Other thing I was going to mention is that maybe you’re hanging out with the wrong crowd. Like any mass melting-pot, University is full of people of all personalities, from the profoundly friendly and conscientious to those that are just downright insensitive (insert preferred collective expletive here). If you’re on the receiving end of malicious jousting, it’s best to just ignore them, give them lacerating wit, or, if you’re crafty and morally bankrupt like me, you could even do what Amelie did to the greengrocer in the film. Kudos to whoever invented karma.

    I really must hunt down some pretentious first year philosophy brats and engage in verbal altercation. My guess is they’re the ones who did their Year 12 English essays on Camus’ ‘L’Étranger’ and think they know more about existentialism than Kierkegaard himself. 🙄

    Any self-proclaimed existentialist would know that life is an arbitrary and absurd concept, therefore rendering the flying of one’s own kite to appear intelligent merely an exercise in arrogant idiocy. It is my earnest hope that poetic justice be done unto those fools. If you’re in Johanna, I’ll provide the eggs.

    Oh, and let me give you the tip; if you’re looking for smart, diplomatic, mature and open-minded people, do Commerce.

    In reference to the bullying, it isn’t good to see you’re experiencing this. The idealist view is that people at university should be civilised and well-natured, but unfortunately that perspective isn’t consistent with reality. Should you be interested, I’d obligingly share strategies on dealing with those nasty, tricksy hobbits.



  2. I’m really sad to hear you haven’t found anyone in your course that you have ‘clicked’ with yet. I know my biggest fear about uni was that it would be a place where everyone kept to themselves…so I have felt very lucky to be warmly embraced with friendliness by most people I’ve met.

    I am a shy soul at heart, but over time have taught myself to be as outgoing as possible because that does, of course, make it easier to meet/befriend people.

    Firstly I’d say, definitely don’t feel like you’re alone. Another girl I know just the other day was telling me how she was finding it hard to make friends.

    P.Waterstone is right when he says Commerce is great for meeting people! I honestly thought people would be such snobs but everyone I’ve met so far is really down to earth, mature and intelligent.
    I’ve heard that you should fear Law for its snobbery…and Arts – well I always say you can pick an Arts student. I think it’s just unfortunate that in some subjects like philosophy, people think they know bloody everything because they did Year 12 philosophy and got a great mark.
    Or alternatively they are just wankers full stop.

    However with all that said, I truly believe in every course there are good people and there are bad people. Unfortunately it sounds like you’ve met a bit too much of that latter than the former. Do not fear though, it is NEVER too late to make new friends. Just because the first few weeks have passed, the time is ALWAYS ripe to make new friendships!

    So my tips (coming from someone who has been developing friends across the university spectrum). Please note: I’m sure you know a lot of this stuff but I’m just going to list what I have found works for me.

    a) Talk to EVERYONE. Whoever you sit next to in a lecture or a tute. Pretend to be confident. Act friendly. Introduce yourself, ask for their name. Start a conversation. Either ask some kind of basic question relating to the subject (even if you know the answer!!!!) or comment on something they’re wearing (people love compliments and it’s fun to give them if you for example adore the necklace they’re wearing.)

    b) ALWAYS GET A NUMBER. After you’ve spoken to them for a few minutes and even if you hardly know them, just ask really casually saying something like “Do you mind if I get your number because it’s always great to know someone else doing this subject?” or “Can I get your number because we should catch up some time/meet up to study” ect ect. Every single time I have asked someone for their number, they have given it to me! And 99% of the time they have asked for my number in return!

    c) MAKE the effort. Human beings are known to be lazy, so with that said, make the effort to call someone and organise to meet up, even if its just for a 20 minute coffee. Don’t be afraid to call them because people are social creatures and most people appreciate someone taking an interest to get to know them. Go out of your way to say hi whenever you see them. Do a favour if the opportunity arises -eg. if someone needs help with their homework, sit down and help them understand – good people worth knowing will appreciate your effort and repay you with friendship.

    d) Attend events OUTSIDE you course. Join clubs, go to public lectures…basically any kind of social event outside your course where you can meet different people. Even if you’re not really ‘into’ something, force yourself to go along. I am not, and never will be, a member of the Liberal Club but a guy I hardly knew (who is now a friend) saw me walking by, called out to me to join the BBQ and it was here that I ended up meeting a really great guy! I have found the Tennis Club to also be a great meeting place. Doing Social Sundays, I’ve met some really nice people so far and it’s only been running for 2 weeks. The people that attend are of all different ages up to about 28…so the scope of personalities is wide. Plus the Tennis Club has a lot of social events you can attend to meet other people.

    e) Last but not least; be as open-minded as possible. Be aware of the vibes you are giving off to others, be aware of how you carry yourself eg body language -sometimes I have a tendency to talk with arms crossed – this gives off a negative vibe and unintentionally will make someone feel uncomfortable. Don’t necessarily judge people straight up by the way they dress or a way they are acting. Sometimes first impressions are right, but other times they can be wrong too. Be positive in your thinking. If you think you will only meet awful people, you probably will. But if you expect/hope for great things…sometimes they happen.

    I know a lot of this might be difficult to do with everything else going on right now, but I hope you can somehow manage to meet a few great people because ultimately I think it’s the people that make university a great place to be.

    Best of luck.

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