Monday, March 31, 2014

2014 update: So I quit school...

Wow let me start by saying sorry to this blog for being left in stagnation for so long; and to the people who had been readers when this blog was active (that is, people who had been constantly checking in here). I say had because I think most people would have got the memo that I was leaving this blog for dead and never came back after. Wait so just who is this post for? Uh...whoever that's left I guess. 

So 2014 has brought many changes...ok many small ones and just one big one. Ok no, maybe just the big one's worth mentioning. Uh...yeah ok. 


Bear with me. 

I quit school. 

Disclaimer: Yes, I know I am fortunate enough to be provided with everything I need to survive and live comfortably and that I should be grateful that I don't have to balance school and part-time work or pay for my education. Yes, I know whinging that a course at one of the world's top universities is "not for me" may piss some highly insensitive and judgmental people off but hey, it's the 21st century, times have changed and let's not compare my life to that of a starving child in a slum somewhere with no access to education at all let alone clean water etc. I've had to deal with enough condescending remarks from just about everyone (family to friends to strangers). If this will piss you off, you 1. don't know me personally or enough; so 2. bugger off. Thanks!

More like, quit four years of university. Not just any university, but Monash. Ok it's not Oxford or an Ivy League school but Monash was still pretty up there. More specifically, I quit a business degree majoring in accounting. 

I hated it. 

So why stay for four years? Why not stay with Monash but switch degree programmes or majors? 

Sigh that's what everyone asks me (or rather people whom I don't talk with much) when I break the news to them. Let me break it down: 

1. Why wait four years? I was naive to say the least. I knew nothing when I was enrolled in university and even less when it came to my study options. I went with what I thought was best for me or rather what I was made to think was in my best interest. Nearly every member of my family has a business degree and most majored in accounting (dad being one of them). So naturally I was coerced into a degree programme that I knew very little of, much less it being anything that suited my interests (art, music, fashion design, interior design, architecture).

Results during my first semester were far below average; I had failed half of the units undertaken and I was distraught. All the research into what my degree actually was and what my future career path entailed did nothing to ignite any interest. I was very capable academically but did not feel any motivation in keeping up with weekly study commitments; for the units I did pass, I studied very little and exam prep was very last-minute; and on research essays that I put effort into, I'd usually get an average minimum mark of 80%. So I knew I definitely wasn't struggling with the workload or difficulty of the course, but rather my ability to keep my head in the game. I saw failure as a personal inability to keep up with my peers and kept wanting to prove my parents wrong; that I was capable of being like them when they were once where I was now. I kept telling myself this after constantly doing bad at university semester after semester.

My parents did offer me the chance to quit in my second and third year but I felt so upset with my inability to prove my worth that I kept saying, "no, not yet; I want to keep trying and prove everyone wrong". What made me even more upset was that my good results on assignments (though few) spoke for themselves; the fact that whenever I did stay motivated and had an interest in the subject, I had a fighting chance of being a top student and finally graduating. Sadly I never did manage to bring myself up to speed with anything and after being given warning after warning from the university, I blew my final chance after my last semester in 2013. Results were bad though ironically the one subject I did pass was an accounting third year unit; auditing (and I did f*ck-all to study for it). I figured before the university chose to kick me out, I'd quit first. 

2. Why didn't you choose a different course at Monash? Oh I did think of this, surely, but the local Malaysian campus had very limited degrees on offer and sadly NONE of the Arts programmes I was interested in were available locally. Had I want to pursue a Monash programme of my choice, I would've had to do so in Australia and I'm more than certain that my dad was never willing to send me overseas anyway. He could afford to but didn't think it made sense to pay extra for overseas accommodation and higher tuition fees for what was essentially a similar Monash degree, attainable in Malaysia for a fraction of the cost; oh never mind where my interest lies, no siree was he going to waste so much on...yeah you get the picture. So basically everyone thought a Monash degree was a Monash degree and I figured rather than switch to some locally available Arts program I'm not interested in like broadcasting or communications and starting from scratch, I might as well try to buck up with the current one as I was more than halfway there.

I find that despite some very notable foreign universities having campuses in Malaysia, the degree programmes offered are very limited and this is but a nightmare for those like myself looking for credible art and design programmes out there. I have researched some very good design programmes at certain foreign universities that have Malaysian campuses but they simply would not offer such programmes here, probably out of fear that the demand for the programmes would be low. So those wanting to pursue engineering, science and medicine certainly have it made when it comes to your study options locally. 

So after going through universities in the UK and Canada, as well as local institutions that offer 3+0 degrees in partnership with overseas universities, I decided on The One Academy for a degree in interior architecture, awarded by University of Hertfordshire (has a pretty decent ranking and their arts and design programme is recognised in the UK). Academic requirements and cost were huge factors in that it didn't take any sort of pre-university qualification (despite me having one that I used for my business degree) or an elaborate portfolio requirement to enroll in TOA's UK degree programme; and despite the cost of the degree being the exact same as what local Monash tuition fees would amount to, it was still cheaper than any other alternative like studying abroad. I could of course try to re-enroll and start fresh at Monash but what would I study, really?

So I am glad to say that the degree that I will be pursuing from here onwards is one of my choice and at least one in which I am interested in. Had I put my foot down at the start, I would've been a graduate by now but I am nothing but grateful that I am supported financially by the family (and that they now understand where my interests lie) and despite a rocky start, I have finally understood what it means to pursue a university degree and how important it is to know which field of study suits your interests best. I believed that as long as I stayed motivated I'd graduate and be a successful accountant (my grandpa constantly reminded me of the postgrad professional accounting plans he had for me) but through these tough years struggling with a course that was never for me (not even in a million years), I have finally found some courage at least, to stand up for what I know is right for me and that you can definitely bounce back from failure. With a positive attitude. And a tonne of support from understanding people around you.

If all goes well, I'd be behind works like this in no time, heh.