"For what it's worth" (Kiryll)
Or the day I met Ron and found my self lost in University of Melbourne (The)
It was a fine Thursday morning when I caught the 8:11 Flinders Street train to the city. After a big break from school and the commuting that was required to get there, it was a wistful journey as it reminded me of the routine life I am hopefully leaving behind. It was also strange to stand next to current VCE or other Year level students and hear their conversations about school life. For those readers starting Y12 and who will call them-selves “The Class of 2013”, good luck for the year ahead! I remember my first school assembly as a Y12, or the ‘ruler’ of the school as I used to look at Y12s when I was in the years bellow. My then coordinator at the assembly – let’s don the name Jax, likened VCE as a Tour de France. After what has happened to cycling as a professional sport, I don’t think Jax will be using that analogy again.
He did say that VCE is a long marathon where you have to prepare from day one for “that final uphill sprint” – the exams. Because I was intimidated by the grandeur of it, I paid close attention on that day.
But not for the day s, weeks and months that followed. If I have one piece of intel to divulge, it would be: to start VCE mode from day 1, the type of seriousness that is needed when preparing for exams or doing parallel parking. I was one of the students who took it more seriously in the middle of the year and if my study intensity can be plotted on a graph (not that it should), it would resemble an exponential graph, instead of a steady flat line somewhere between 90 and 100% intensity. If I have one regret about last year, it’s that I treated it like all the other years of high school. I didn’t make it, like the teachers wanted – special. So I didn’t do things like: making a disciplined study timetable, turning off my phone when studying, setting mini goals to achieve during the night, even finishing the homework that teachers don’t really check but may have come in handy. Stuff like that. VCE is a test of one’s discipline and how willing one is prepared to go. I hope that jarring section helps.
Where was I? Oh yes, on the train to meet the fabled Ron. Apart from the general silence of nearby businesswo(men), I was squeezed next to a group of students talking about their upcoming school athletics:
“You doing the triple jump?”
“Yeah, man, doing everything except two events. X is going to destroy high jump, though.”
“Isn’t he jumping for Victoria (the state)?”, whether this conversation made me miss school or not, it certainly told me that my life will never again feature Casual Fridays or pondering about wagging house swimming or writing my class initials on everything (12C). Do you guys miss school? Have you thought about it at all in these few months? With these wistful thoughts I made my way up a billion and 1 escalators from Melbourne Central to the tram stop across the famous State Library – home to a billion and 1 students during November each year. At the tram stop, I played a detective game where I tried to guess who was also going to Melbourne University that day – almost everyone.
But once I got there, all kinds of geographical problems broke loose. Thank goodness for the trusty sidekick – the Lost On Campus app, or else I would surely have fallen in the hands of the evil Dr Disorientation. In what followed next, I galloped from one end of uni to the other, from Baldwin Spencer Building, past Redmond Barry to the Sidney Myer Asia Centre and finally to a terrace office on the opposite side of the road. Coincidentally, the office I was looking for was visible all along from the tram stop … 30 metres away. However, in between all that to and fro, there were the staff at the university without whose help I would have ended up walking past my destination on the way home without realising it. The problem of the whole saga was, I didn’t know which building was Ron’s office. Lost on Campus can tell me where all the buildings are, but not in which building I should be. And this is where I come to the crux of the story.
Back in high school, you knew all the upcoming events and requirements because they were given to you: over the speaker, through those yellow pamphlets at the end of class, through your teacher. That’s why the staff at the central office in school hated when students asked them questions, because we were already meant to know the answer from countless Amazon forests that were shoved down our bags. But here in uni, things are different. We don’t have a lecturer coming to our house and telling us exactly what to do for our enrolment. All the information we need is up there (if I were an Apple employee, I would say all of it is up there, in the Cloud) but we, not the teacher, have to access it.
From that Thursday morning I learnt that the staff here in Melbourne are always willing to help. They won’t get angry and strangle me with a phone cord, but will inquire as to what a student needs and make sure the student gets it, even if it requires calling up another staff member from a different faculty or management.
As Peter Parker’s grandfather wisely said “With great (independence), comes great responsibility. But people here in Melbourne are also willing to help, son.”
Kiryll writes from his room, where this article originally appeared.