May 23, 2013

Lifeblog: Things going my way - after two years of struggle! (May 2013)



Salutation Readers :)

So for those who have been following my "Lifeblog's" (a term which I actually invented very spontaneously four years ago, and which I will stick to even now), you may have known that I have been trying to find the right type of studies for me, for the past two or three years.

First I started out doing the first year of my undergraduate studies by opting for the Mathematics course. The outcome of it? It ended up being a very wrong choice, as the matter was very difficult to grasp for me, and the rate at which the workload came just kept increasing. The class sizes were small (not surprising, as not many people opted for this course, since it's known for its toughness), but on the whole I couldn't keep up with it as the matter was dry and moreover difficult.

Within the same university system, I then ventured into International Relations, with the hope that things will be better. I met amazing people, made great friends (whom I'm still in touch with even now), the subjects were really interesting. But then the classes were HUGE. They weren't classrooms, but auditoriums packed with people. And moreover there wasn't any workload throughout the year, but only one immense term exam on which your whole year depended. You are not given any guidance throughout the academic year, on how to tackle the revision and how to study etc., nothing of that sort! The subjects were indeed interesting and were easy to relate to. But the exams were purely there to reinforce the idea of memorization, and not giving any chance to the students for building their critical thinking or whatsoever. Most of the exams were Multiple-Choice questions, and tick the right box, based on what the professor spoke in front of the 250 people or so during the semester. I really tried my level best to do as per the guidelines.

As you may have guessed, that didn't go too well for me either. More than that, I actually failed for a second time in a row, and as expected, I started doubting on myself, my capabilities, my intelligence. I was down, I was at a dead-end, since two failures meant an automatic elimination from the university.

For those who know baseball (or at least played it on the Wii, like me), you know that, as a batsman, having had Two Strikes against you, means you can't have a Third Strike. Else you'll be dismissed from the game. I almost felt like that. I almost felt like I needed to make the most of whatever comes in the next part of my life.

And I couldn't do that alone. I had IMMENSE and HUGE support (can't express it more than this, it's hard to put it in words) from my parents and sister. I also had a huge amount of guidance and reassurance from my relatives. And as well as good amount of support by my friends at the University itself.

I was hoping that "Third Time Lucky" will actually mean something in my life. So after all this happenings, I applied to a private University in Geneva, got selected and entered a new type of studies. Studies, where I actually had interest in learning what was being taught to me. Studies, where I knew all the peers in my classroom, where the professors knew me in person. Studies, where there was workload all throughout, and not just one big exam in the end. Yes, the tuition fee is very high, but in my view it's worth the investment, since it's an enriching experience.

I finished my "first year" for the third time... but with success coming in my way this time!

Regarding what I mentioned about my first two failed attempts, I just want to make it clear: this isn't to disrespect people who are studying in such environments. There are SO MANY students in this world who succeed in their studies despite studying in EVEN worse situations than what I mentioned (I'm not even writing about certain Indian universities). But I'm not among those people, I have my requirements, my minimum needs, when it comes to education. So yes, if you can withstand such circumstances in your academic life, I'm really glad for you. This is all about my personal views of how I can cope with studies.

And I'm not only complaining about those systems. Even now I don't regret the choices I had made back then. We all make choices in life, some are good some are bad. And in my view it's not the good ones that define you. But the bad ones. The bad ones will show you where you went wrong and bring you to the right one. I'm somewhat glad I found my calling after two whole years of a wait. I did go through my share of suffering, but I'm glad I rose after I fell.

A small parallel-drawing to this post

In one of my favorite scenes of the superhero movie called "Captain America - The First Avenger", Steve Rogers is being interviewed by Dr.Erskine.

Erskine[he looks into his files] Where are you from, Mr. Rogers? Is it New Haven? Or Paramus? Five exams in five different cities.Rogers: That might not be the right file.
Erskine: No, It's not the exams I'm interested in. It's the five tries.
The scene from Captain America - The First Avenger

 People who have seen this movie may remember the scene I'm talking about. (Or atleast I hope so) This goes really well with what I want to convey through this blog post. I guess it's not the failures that one should bother about, but rather be concerned over your efforts and be proud of them. You gave it a shot, it didn't work, but at least you gave it a shot!

So yes, I'm glad I found my calling, and this is just a start. First year is done, I have two weeks of break, before I do my second year in the summer semesters, and I'll be finishing my third and final year of the course by May 2014.

It wasn't an easy path but I'm glad I took this path. I'm very thankful to the Almighty for keeping me in good health all throughout.

And for those who have been reading my Lifeblog posts in the last two or three years, a big thank you for having done so! :-)

Be well,
Santhosh


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