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University Transformations

University Transformations

Student Life: Transformations I Will Never Forget

There is a special unifying feature of human race: we are in constant Search of our true selves. Our life is not simply a journey; it is a path of self-discoveries, false and genuine ones. I remember my first self-realization as a unique identity – it happened during my university years. I already anticipated an inevitable change within me right from the start of my student life. I believed that a scatter-brained and irresponsible schoolgirl who called herself Chaos Angel, went to rock parties with doubtful friends, and fell for “bad boys”, “kings of the shady streets”, will soon dissipate in order to Transform. It was a quintessential time when I had to turn into a much saner, more creative and ambitious human being, otherwise I’d end up in a huge trouble. My student life didn’t make me a saint as there was also a wicked episode of rejecting studies for the sake of rock music and non-mainstream mates. Yet, all meaningful experiences were activated in my karma when I faced reality: I was not a school girl anymore. I’m willing to reveal some memories of mine, not devoid of failures but also full of vital lessons that have influenced my lifestyle ever since.

Outside the Comfort Zone

What is the most alluring thing when your student life starts? Of course, this feeling when you are independent from your parents… I liked it, and I even didn’t miss my hometown for a while. I had a scholarship, so I also didn’t depend much on my family’s money. My mother even stopped calling me daily, and I still wonder, do parents truly believe that life at university is safer or do they challenge themselves as well? I think that they were worried as usual but decided not to intrude upon my privacy and allow me to get a foot in the door of adulthood. I visited them once in a month along with my granny, and I continually came back with all sorts of delicious food my grandma prepared. As cooking is another bittersweet experience of student life, that homemade food saved not only me from hunger but also some of my fellow students. It is not difficult to cook something tasty and healthy, but sometimes lectures and seminars steal your precious time, and yet another module makes you seek an eye-opener, but not a recipe-book.

Please don’t think I used my granny’s kindness to facilitate my life at uni. She was my lifesaver but those reminders about home in the form of yummy pastries gradually made me nostalgic, specifically in those moments when I was far from a party animal. I must confess there were homesick days when I wanted nothing more but to talk to my family and stay at my old cozy bedroom for the sake of some sacred gossiping with my younger sister. I started to appreciate what I had before. I understood that I shouldn’t be rough with my parents, that it’s better to listen to their remarks patiently, without arguing, I suddenly knew that they love me. Appreciation of the family values was my First Transformation. What made me think like that? Though it’s easy to make friends when you are surrounded by various young people that may have reciprocal hobbies and keep you motivated, you are ultimately aware of the artificial side of those “amicable circles”. It doesn’t mean I stopped trusting people, but as the old proverb says, “Trust everyone, but always cut the cards.” Earlier, my empathic capabilities weren’t developed to the fullest to discern false friends from authentic ones. University life taught me to get to the bottom of people’s inner worlds. All those compeers may be soon gone from your life but your family stays with you forever.

How I Felt in Fresher’s Shoes

If to transfer this idiom into a verbatim situation, then I didn’t wear fresher’s shoes in particular but I wore my blue academic dress for my first-year inauguration. Blue as a color of the sky and a new hope, a sea of knowledge I was about to dive in. Five years had to pass before this symbol finally turned into the black robe as the pride of graduation and significant knowledge that turned the page and showed the long-awaited doors to the professional chapter of life. I will tell about my career achievements in the next article as now I am trying to recollect life-changing university moments. Well, these were long, mostly exciting five years, and each one disclosed a novel and, predominantly, better me. Back to the fresher’s year, so how was it?

My Fresher’s Week resembled a whirl of emotions, faces, useful and awkward guidelines… was it a crazy party of youth? Not really, or not in my case. Despite going to rock clubs in high school, I was quite introverted so I didn’t feel great excitement in meeting each and every one. I was a person who needed special circles of individuals to socialize with them freely. Somehow from the beginning I noticed many glamorous girls and clubbers and they were not the best company for me. Likewise, I wasn’t keen on sports, so I waited for someone to initiate an interactive board game, such as Dixit (now I wonder why I hesitated to offer something like that myself). Icebreaking began when I eventually got acquainted with hipsters and metal heads, as well as literary nerds. Some of them were guitarists and drummers. I was a vocalist. We decided to make up a band pretty soon. We didn’t achieve “great popularity” (even within university walls) despite rehearsing regularly. We performed at some parties, and that’s it. Anyway, the main mission of each student is to learn and improve what you have learnt, isn’t it? Initially, I even obeyed to adhere to the principle “studying is above all, then everything else”. Was I a swot? No. Only my first year at uni was relatively assiduous. I don’t know how I managed to read all those books, especially when our fellow students from one of the exchange programs arrived. Most of them were cute Canadians and some girls “hunted for them” like for a long-desired prey. My roommate was one of them – a gorgeous Latina with virtues that screamed “I am femme fatale to be”. She resembled a panther who could seduce any male. To my own surprise, we perfectly got along, though never became best friends. From time to time, she invited me to hang out with handsome guys, but I always felt awkward beside her. Once I even thought that she intentionally did it to look better than me in their eyes. She seemed so pretty and independent while I was just a random countercultural girl with slightly creative interests. I could speak with those folks about anything from intellectual to trivial stuff, but I assumed that my abilities to flirt were pretty low. Luckily, one person turned my world upside down.

Soulmates Exist

Second semester has just started. Jacob transferred from a different university and became my groupmate. One day, for our creative writing class, we had to produce a story with the given vocabulary, and I came up with a 2-page long poetry. It wasn’t against the rules but my groupmates were slowly getting used to my habit to reorganize almost every essay into a poetic work. Among professors, only two of them valued my discrepant way of thinking. The others said I should abide by the suggested academic standards. And there was Jacob who supported me in my every sly intention to accomplish a task in an extraordinary way. How did we become friends?

After one of those eloquent presentations, several groupmates told me that I was acting like a show-off. Jacob heard it and instantly consoled me. He said, “This is the greatest approach to tedious academic tasks I’ve ever witnessed. Your imagination is sublime, but you definitely have to improve your self-esteem”. I replied, “Thank you. High praise! When I write this way, it seems that I open my innermost door into something special.” Then I shot out, “Can I invite you for some coffee and cupcakes?” He smiled back at me, saying, “Sure. That’s the best thing we can do now.” During this coffee break, we both understood that we share an abundance of common interests, listening to the same music genres, admiring the same film directors and artists… What is more important, it was so easy to communicate with him, no barriers, no hidden embarrassments, no aims to pretend somebody else. Jacob even became my volunteering psychologist because he could see all my internal problems I tried to hide.

Once we found ourselves in a strangely heterogeneous company where we slightly felt as freaks (but it was our benefit). My panther-roommate was among those people. Like in a slow motion, I suddenly noticed that she was heading towards Jacob with a clear intention to “put a spell on him”. Though my friend was a geek, he was also charming, so even glamorous girls could be attracted to him. She interrupted us in the middle of our conversation about Tarantino’s movies, almost meowing like a cat, “Hey Jacob, would you like to get some fresh air with me?” He indifferently answered, “No, thanks, I’m currently getting fresh ideas from my witty friend, and I’d rather stay with her.” She just said, “Hm, as you wish…” I clearly sensed her disappointment (and every single molecule in me was triumphing). Indeed, I was pleased despite the fact that it seemed impossible to me – such a lush girl and her complete contrariety… Jacob, as a genius of human emotions, promptly comprehended my feelings. He gently said, “I still can’t get why you think that she’s better than you. You’re sharp-witted and lovely. You are beautiful, actually. Haven’t you looked in the mirror for ages?” I blushed. I hugged him. His words meant everything to me.

At that time I realized that I didn’t accept myself as I was, I didn’t consider myself beautiful, that’s why I decided to remain aloof. However, I basically didn’t see my beauty, I didn’t notice how magical my blue eyes are, how softly my voice sounds, and how smart I am in comparison with many other girls. This was my Second Transformation.

Mistakes During University Years

You may wonder how things went with Jacob later, did we become a couple? Surely, we did. We liked each other in every aspect. He quickly grew into my soulmate and my beloved one. We dated for two amazing years until I became a vocalist in “a band full of temptations“ and fell in love with its lead guitarist. We performed quite a lot in different rock clubs throughout the country, Jacob visited some of our concerts, but the new company totally engulfed me. I’m not very proud of it as now I realize that I was guided by passions, not by sane feelings, and it affected not only my relationship with Jacob but, unfortunately, also my studies.

Rock Star Dreams Almost Stole My Student Experience

Despite the above-mentioned significant chapters about appreciating my family and finding a soulmate, there was also a grim page I’d call “Where Wild Narcissus Grows…”

My first band at the university was “hippy flowers” in comparison to the subsequent dark romanticism I immersed into. It was a gothic doom metal band called “Alymia”. I’m still not sure about the origin of this strange name and the presence of an odd coincidence: it resembles a word “alumnus”, but participation in this band almost made the opposite – I was on the verge of getting expelled… 

How did they find me? One of their guitarists wrote me on Facebook about their searches of a female vocalist that would be both vulnerable and mysterious on stage. By chance or by bad luck, I was a gothic girl during those strange days. I wrote melancholic, highly symbolic decadent poetry that poor Jacob truly loved to read, I was keen on gothic architecture, and collected books where Edgar Poe, Howard Lovecraft, Robert W. Chambers, Sheridan Le Fanu, Charles Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde, Ann Radcliffe, and other grim eggheads occupied pride of place… and I could sing pretty well. After the first rehearsal I was accepted, and the most rebellious time of my life underwent its initiation (I thought it was in high school, and I was mistaken).

I started performing, and this gothic stage life, which I perceived as my genuine renaissance back then, absorbed me radically. I loved the attention of the underground scene audience, I narrowed my circle of interaction to more “whimsical individuals”, and my sane and empathic Jacob turned into a jealous boy who struggled to reassure me that what I liked most did me more harm than good. The truth is, he quickly observed my tendency to skip lessons because sometimes we had to perform in other cities during weekdays. He tried to put me wise about my attitude to studies, he told me that my professional future was at risk, but I wouldn’t listen. I wasn’t degrading though it seemed like “a dark side” – I was writing lyrics, composing songs, socializing with like-minded people, but studying seemed to be not so important in comparison to that “profound self-expression”. If I were clever enough, I could combine studies with music, but I clearly demonstrated my indifference towards certain subjects and professors became, mildly speaking, dissatisfied with my results. Obviously, they had to be enraged because I missed the necessary seminars out of the blue, accomplished modules badly (as I was performing at the club, not studying the previous night before the test), and looked like a freak in their eyes (wearing mostly black along with chains around my neck :-D). I still have an opinion that your appearance doesn’t (or shouldn’t) reflect your wits, or is not interrelated with your intellectual abilities, but my addiction to an alternative lifestyle fetched more negative consequences. I fathomed that I was in trouble when I was invited to the dean’s office for a serious conversation. Mrs. Lakes was a high-minded woman not affected by stereotypes, she appreciated students’ creativity, but she also was a guardian of the discipline at our department, and I utterly breached it. The dean didn’t scream at me or humiliate me. She only gazed at me, sadly saying, “You could be one of our brightest students. That’s so upsetting to observe how you’re losing your talent, trading it for something vain. You can be whoever you want, write your sorrowful poetry, sing your dark songs, but education matters in this world. The ability to coexist is a virtue. If you want to dwell in your imaginary realm, no one will force you to leave it, but sometimes it’s useful to be more realistic. If you fail to obtain this degree, are you sure you’ll be able to get another one? Life is not only about hedonism.”

I humbly replied, “Thank you. I’ll ponder on your words. I’d like to apologize. Do I have a second chance to redeem myself?” Mrs. Lakes slightly smiled, “Catch your chance as soon as possible before it turns into a raven.” That was symbolic. My dean was also a great psychologist. She knew how to talk to me using the images from my head.

This was when my third Major Transformation took place and it started paving the way to my cherished English and American literature major (I can’t help playing with words again). My primary wish was to find Jacob to express regret for my recklessness. We had this sincere tête-à-tête, he was noble to forgive me, but from that moment on we have been just friends. Did I quit the band? I adored being a vocalist, so I decided to set up certain rules. I said I would rehearse only after the classes and I wouldn’t perform the night before the exams. Of course, there were invitations for us to perform during those busy studying days, so I let them go without me. I simply uttered, “I’m sorry, I have to study.” It appeared to be not so difficult to coexist, to combine both studies and my hobbies.

“Ordinary” University Life Can Be Wonderful

I remember how I woke up being conscious of striking changes within my personality. I stopped hating mornings and my groupmates’ music interests, I started appreciating diversity – we are distinct, we are beautiful, we all carry unique microcosms inside ourselves. I started to smile more often. I finally became more open-minded. It was an unspeakable relief to perceive the world as it is. For the first time in my life I enjoyed teamwork. This new discovery of my inner self gave birth to a sociable positive girl who did not crave to search merely for “the whimsical others” but who finally appreciated everyone. I still wrote poetic presentations but I similarly tried to master standard academic writing (which greatly helped me in the future) – all in all, I couldn’t write research papers in rhymes :). 

I joined inspiring societies and student clubs, starting from an innocent traditional Drama Club, continuing with Poetic Revelations Club, and discovering a cherry on top to fuel my incessant craving for mysticism – Neo-pagan and Inner Witchcraft Society, which was partly disguised for the sake of our professors’ sound sleep. The latter wasn’t the incarnation of some demonic practices – we heartily had fun and even gained exceptional knowledge. This was a minor alternative to Hogwarts world because we studied ancient runes, narrated arcane tales, learned Celtic mythology, and fantasized about travelling throughout the most compelling historical epochs, especially those were alchemists were considered scientists. What is interesting, the alternative lessons we made up ourselves did not distract us from the usual studies. It was quite the reverse. It became even easier to delve into textbooks after training our imagination and learning something astonishing, literally magical. I acquired an equilibrium. I could be both reasonable and uncanny. Perhaps, I learned to manage my time and realized how precious it is. I was extremely busy every day, but my tasks were miscellaneous and mostly spirit-stirring, so I didn’t feel I overwork much. It was my Fourth Transformation: studying became enjoyable again and this aspiration to betide all the marvels of knowledge didn’t leave me even after the graduation.

I do not mind sharing many other things about my university experience along with some advice as well as anti-tips that would caution you “don’t do like me!”, but I already suspect that my article is too lengthy. Next time, I’ll tell you a different story and its possible title can be “Exchange programs are not for fancy pants. How I survived in Canada. How I fell in love with life.”

See you later, alligators, or phoenixes, or unicorns…

Sincerely Yours,

Wordy Witch

miroslava-meyrink
Miroslava Meyrink
Freelance Writer.
Elegant soul that finds beauty in everyday things.
Also, a bookworm specializing in gothic literature.
     
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