To be understood?

I’m putting off revising Linear Algebra in favour of pacing my room like a weather-beaten 53-year-old detective. I’ve been reflecting on the year every single waking moment, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s been a fascinating year; a lot of things, ranging from elating to excruciating, were not on my bingo card. So, hey, what better way to sum up my reflection than a very public private-feeling place (credit to Amity’s post for the phrase) — the first-year blog! Something something to be understood you must be known, and to be known terrifies me but the reward of being understood is greater than my fear.

Reiterating my very first post, I didn’t expect my university life to be this novel (yes, in both the sense of being book-like AND new). I had a conversation with a friend about how surreal it was to think back on ourselves this time last year. This time last year, I was in New Zealand, on a gap year working in retail and writing countless essay drafts with only Halloween to look forward to. This year, I’m working in retail and writing countless notes with not even Halloween to look forward to because all four of my exams are in the first week.

I jest, partially. Though I grumble and make exasperated hand gestures, I still find much to hold dear in life. At the risk of sounding like My Little Pony’s “FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC!” (which it is): my friends and family are a large reason why my heart crackles more in the way campfires do than wheezing lungs do. Under rare sunny skies, I sit on the swings listening to upbeat indie music while keeping an eye on kids directly in my line of oscillation.

Right-o, I should also give some advice as a person who’s about to be a second-year (le gasp!):

Do your math exercises consistently throughout the year so you don’t have to cram every single theorem into your flimsy little 21 x 29.7 cm cheat sheet. Don’t schedule six hours of lectures and tutorials on a Monday (miraculously, I have attended nearly all of them). Go to consultations. I’m 99% sure that lecturers and tutors don’t get much foot traffic during the year other than in exam season, so be their guest!

A bit of an unpopular opinion, but lurk on Reddit, UMLL, ATAR Notes, StudentVIP, and maybe even Discord, to get a sense of how people view places/activities/subjects. Of course, the demographics that actively use these forums may have common traits that don’t match yours, so be aware of biases while trying to get a feel for things. But, anyway, these (subjective) opinions might help with making choices that suit your wants.

Touch grass at least once a week. Breathe in some sunshine. Skip down the streets while saying hello to passersby with a huge grin on your face, and don’t follow every single Internet advice you see (in case that wasn’t obvious, please don’t say hello to strangers as they might make you say hello to the pavement).

Ta-daa (credit to Alistair of Foundations of Algorithms for the legendary phrase which haunts me in my dreams)! Advice column ends here.

More friend appreciation stuff because I’ve just seen a friend’s Instagram edit of the semester and am overcome with affection. I get through my Mondays thanks to that one-hour break in between my friends’ lectures and tutorials when we trudge to Teaser for some scrumptious rice. I get through the week thanks to friends’ check-in messages and study sessions. I get through the semester powered by lunch catch-ups and life-update calls with busy friends — we may not see each other often but we know we are there. Sometimes I stare at the ceiling with apprehension of what the future might bring, about my capability or the lack of it, about a million scattered thoughts and potential regrets, but I don’t regret pushing out of my comfort zone and joining a zillion events and Discord servers to meet the people I’m with today.

To think a year has had this much impact on me. People’s mannerisms, their vocab, their ways of thinking touch me; I carry the fragments of everyone I’ve met. I hope I can do for them what they have done so much for me.

Well, I should get back to finishing my Linear Algebra cheat sheet. I wonder what the following years have in store for me and what I’ll knead out of them.

Tramming to Library at The Dock

One thought on “To be understood?

  1. Brilliant, Beth! Friendship and connection goes a long way towards helping us through. Enjoy the change of pace over the summer and breath in that sunshine! 🙂

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