Blog 8/15: the obvious point at which to reflect on the past half a year and ponder the half yet to transpire.
For me, this year started off in Ireland. I was basking in the fact that I’d just spent Christmas and new-years with my Irish kin and that in four days I was off to Spain for a month; this is the life. I even wrote some reflections on 2012 to mark the occasion, a prominent feature of which was the London 2012 Paralympics coupled with the very difficult decision to retire from swimming and focus on my studies. But that’s another blog. By February 10th, my time in Spain was sadly drawing to a close, and so I reflected again (this time in the form of a poem, because Variety is good, you know). I’d just completed a very worthwhile Translation course and stayed with incredibly kind host parents. Around then, I’d also found out that I was actually pleased with my exam results, that I’d be in the Auckland Youth Orchestra (AYO), and most exciting of all, that I’d be an Inside Word blogger. As much as there was trepidation about the uni road lying ahead, those things were definitely a decent confidence boost.
So now that it’s July and I’ve gone a whole 6 months without reflecting, a third set of reflections must be well overdue …
To get back to where we left off then, once home in NZ, it was all go. I had 11 days between moving from my house in Albany to International House in which to unpack, repack, start doing orientation around uni, write emails with questions about course accessibility to lecturers and generally get my head around the fact that a week ago I was studying translation in Salamanca and now I was about to start a Music and Arts conjoint at Auckland Uni.
I have to admit, despite having just spent a month on the other side of the world to my family and having left home for camps and trips enumerable times, and despite the fact International House was barely 25 minutes from my family, moving in felt a little strange. I think it had to do with the permanency of the move; unless you’ve done a longer exchange you probably haven’t really moved out for the year per se before. The unease soon wore off though.
My most vivid memory from O Week would have to be IH’s distraction quiz night. If you haven’t seen the T.V. show, the idea is that you are given a distraction while you try to think of answers. My round had one of the evilest distractions of all. “Chips”, I heard as I stepped up to the line. On investigation, my finger encountered a smallish, harmless-feeling potato-chip. Little did I know … Until prompted to first lick and then consume what turned out to be a chip from Pita Pit doused in a very generous portion of chilli powder. 15 minutes, 4 chips and 4 cups of milk later, the burn was not about to abate.
The most nerve-wracking thing about that week for me though had nothing to do with the courses or the moving or the chips; it was the fact that I was now supposed to know how to get to all my classes by myself. When the furthest you’ve ever ventured with only your cane for eyes is the eight-minute walk to school, the uni campus is on a scale all its own. Despite my worries, all semester I have never once been more than 5 minutes late for class, and there has only been two notable “mishaps”: the first was alluded to in a previous post and resulted in the bottom quarter of my cane finding its way under the wheel of a crawling car, and the second happened earlier on when I got rather disoriented on the Symonds/Grafton intersection. Shall we just say, the middle of that intersection with not the foggiest which way a footpath is when the lights have already changed is somewhere I would strongly advise you not to venture.
Moving on to recollections my mum does want to hear about … The First Lecture. You know the first day at college or intermediate when everyone’s really quiet and polite? It happens all over again here. You will remember, I’m sure, those first few classes: you wonder what your teachers will be like, you begin to make small-talk about the subject to your friend beside you … That all happens again too.
Before I was fully aware, I’d joined Concert Band, Flute Choir, and the Languages and Linguistics Society. Between that, AYO, blogging, some Translation outside of Uni and going to the gym, my extra curricular activities ironically managed to consume more time than my classes themselves (don’t worry, I never missed an assignment deadline). I’ll be honest though, those have been my favourite part. I’ve never had so much freedom to choose what I want to do and that has to be one of the greatest things about uni life. Even if you live in the Auckland region, I’d strongly advise you to seriously consider applying for halls because I can assure you the new friends and the convenience of not commuting are very much worth it.
Oh dear, word limit … I’ve barely gotten two weeks into semester, and only skimmed over them at that. Basically the main thing you need to know about the rest of it is that it went by FAST. Uni time travels double the speed of school time. You won’t really know what I mean until you come experience it for yourself. ;)
In short, as much as uni life has brought with it a ridiculous number of challenges, on the whole I can honestly say I have loved my first semester at UoA and, after a refreshing break, am getting excited about the prospect of the next. First though, a finger-numbing, music-making, sleeping-for-hours-in-coaches, hopefully fun-filled week in the South Island with AYO! See you on the other side :)