Differences Noted

I think the major different of high school compared to university has finally dawned on me.

I mean, apart from the lifestyle – I mean the public lifestyle. Life at home is still the same. I’m still being treated like an 8-year-old who can’t make decisions for herself when it suits my mom’s needs…but that’s another rant – which is obviously different, like the blatant smoking and drinking around campus. Apart from that, the academic side of university is also finally showing itself.

It might have been obvious to Science and Biomed students from the get go, because their level of work is quickly stepping up (I cannot say for sure, not having done the subjects, but the speed at which high school chemistry traveled would indubitably be snail-speed compared to what university would be going). But for myself, an Arts student, the first few weeks of university hasn’t really been that different.

Sure, I don’t have to do maths or Chinese anymore, and each subject is getting more specialized and, to a certain degree, globalized (as in, each subject really only talks about the scope of said subject, and more about global issues rather than Australian issues) but really it just felt like a slightly more intense elective subject at high school.

But when my essays started hitting, I found things different.

In high school, you are more or less told what to do, how to do it, and then whoever can copy that formula the best while not appearing to have copied that formula gets an A. You might think you have more choice in VCE, what with the 3 different topics you can write about on the SAME book, or the “freedom” you have to “express yourself” in the “Whose Reality?” part of the exam. But, not really. Again, you’re more or less told what the expected outcome is, and you reach for that.

In uni, it’s just that one step scarier. First of all, you’re not REALLY told what is expected of you. You get a few samples of the genre/s that you’re probably trying to emulate – note, emulate, not copy – and these aren’t even past student examples, these are real life examples. You get the description of what the assignment is, for example “30 – 40 lines of poetry, roughly equivalent to a 1000 word essay”. Then they give you 4 weeks of random poetry to read, poets coming in to tell you how they stumbled across poetry, and then bam! your poems are due next week.

Poetry isn’t so hard to understand how to write, really. I mean, write, not write well. You can write anything and you can say it’s poetry, and no one can really dispute you, because it is poetry, just crappy poetry.

But my 2nd Creative Writing assignment had me stumped; a creative non-fiction.

I know what it is; I’ve read the Hiroshima example, and it was fantastic. But what topic can I write about? To be able to creatively write about a non-fictional topic, you’d have to have a respectable amount of knowledge about it. To get a respectable amount of knowledge, you’d have to research – and researching, then transferring this knowledge creatively, will take a lot longer than the time given for this assignment. So of course you’d have to write about something you already know.

That’s all good if you already knew shitloads about, say, Roal Dahl, or whatever. But I don’t! So a weekend was spent desperately trying to think of what to write. And that was the most frustrating part; I know I have the skills, I just don’t have a medium to show it. It would be good if in tutes we were given a list of possible topics, but we weren’t, and that’s how uni rolls.

In the end, I chose to write about music, and how music is experienced differently by different people.

But that’s just Creative Writing. Then we have Professional Writing, which is easier in some senses, and harder in some. I got my result for my first assignment – the magazine profile – back. I thought I’d done well – not fantastic, but well. I’d stuck to the conventions of my chosen genre of magazines – but the result said that, if I don’t draft this assignment for my end of semester folio, I’d only get a 60% mark. It would have been okay if I knew where I went wrong, but I’m not quite sure. I suppose that’s the difference – now you have to go ask the tutor why, and they’ll probably not answer you properly.

You know, I also noticed that I use the hyphen a lot more now. It gets annoying.

For my other two subjects, Cinema Studies and Intro to Media and Comm, I have 2 research projects’ due date coming up. After today (I’m going out today, which I will write about tomorrow, probably) I’m going to have to start doing the research for those two. Cinema Studies has me researching cinematic monsters, and Intro to M+C has me working with Annie and Christy for something which none of us has started so I guess it’ll be a bit of a last minute pull.

So things are definitely different in university now. I’m having fun, don’t get me wrong, because these things are my forte, and I actually enjoy them. But it is noticeably harder and more stressful to get that optimum mark.

Oh my god, I’m still mark-driven.

Alex.

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