February 12, 2012
First Years in ResidenceTweet
I spent the first two years of university living in residence. These were segregated dorms rooms, just large enough to hold a bed, desk, and dresser/closet. Living in residence was both a blessing and a curse...
Since I didn't live in the city where I went to university, my parents had a few choices on how to set me up for accommodations while I was attending university. I say they had choices as since my first two years of university were paid in full by them I wasn't in much of a position to argue. They settled on residence because it was close to all of my classes (and I hated getting up in the morning, so perhaps I might make it to my classes) and because it came with a meal plan (they were very concerned that I wouldn't have enough time to cook for myself). Sounded good to me.
I didn't know what to expect at residence, since everything I had seen on TV and in movies was all about American fraternity houses where every weekend eventually ended up as a massive party that destroyed the whole place, police on the front lawn and all. I was pretty sure that wasn't what awaited me.
My first year room was a double, and I ended up sharing it with a guy that I knew from my old high school. We didn't ask to be placed together, the residence office did that on their own. It worked out OK for me, but not so good for him: he was the kind of guy whose good grades came from hours of studying and hard work, while I was the kind of guy whose good grades came without too much effort. While he was trying to study each weekend, I was in and out, making plans and making noise.
First year university was also when I started up my first serious relationship - the kind of relationship that is guaranteed to distract one from studies. At that time, I was also still working part time as a mobile disc jockey, playing music almost every weekend. On top of my heavy course load, I was busy.
I'd like to say that I really tried to make a go of it in my first year, but my heart wasn't in it. Since I was younger than most of the other first year students due to skipping a grade, the novelty of getting into "the university bar scene" while under-age was quite compelling. I was also enrolled in Mechanical Engineering, which was the degree that I thought my parents wanted me to get. If there's one thing that I know to be true now, it's that getting a university degree is something you have to want for yourself. I ended up passing first year Engineering with an average of around 60%. Coming from 85% in high school, this was a shock to my parents, but I explained it away by saying that everyone's grades dropped from high school to university. Sadly, they trusted me on this.
In second year, I had my own single room. It looked like this:
What a mess. The only thing that is in a nice, neat pile is the laundry that my Mom had done and folded for me the last time that I was home. If I walked into one of my daughters' rooms and saw a mess like this today, I wouldn't be happy. The guy in the picture isn't me, it's Vance. Vance lived across the hall from me, and from time to time he would come over to use my computer. We all usually left our rooms unlocked back then, so it wasn't uncommon for me to come back to my room to find someone using my computer for homework - not everyone had a computer in 1989. I didn't mind, because while they were in my room they would usually also answer the phone for me and take messages (I didn't have an answering machine).
Of course I failed out after my second year of university - that was inevitable. The Dean of Engineering wrote me a stern letter, and asked me to take some time off to re-evaluate my priorities in life. I still have that letter. When people ask me why I failed out, my usual reply was, "how was I supposed to study when there were girls walking by in the hall wearing sexy black lingerie?" Although that story was true, I did see girls walk by in their underwear, they weren't the reason that I failed university.
When I returned to studies after a two-year "life break", I came back to the programs that I wanted to take (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science). My parents also helped me buy a house, and I became a landlord by renting out the basement and a room upstairs. I cooked all my own meals. In the end, living in that house was less expensive and I was eating better (as far as quality of food), and there were almost zero distractions.
I found that I actually *could* do homework and study in the right environment. I ended up taking 13 (yes, thirteen) classes in one very busy term, but I worked my ass off and passed them all with good marks - while STILL running my own mobile DJ business! At the end of my degrees in 1996 I had four employees working for me and I was also dating again. It could all be done if I wanted it.
Residence is now just a place in my memory where I had some great times, met some awesome friends that I still have today, and also learned a lot about myself. It just isn't the place where I studied.
Posted by Hammer at February 12, 2012 11:45 PM
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