Living to Learn

I am sitting in the common room of my residence hall with two housemates. It is 1:56am on a Wednesday night but we haven’t been out partying – we have our laptops out and are studying. And when I say housemates, I mean two of the 400+ other students in this building. And when I say studying I mean I am taking a blogging break from writing my latest piece. Plant Biology, Operational Research (a kind of maths) and Creative Writing are all currently happening at this table. Why we conduct our lives in this manner I do not comprehend, but it seems to be part and parcel of being a postgrad student here.

One of the best things about being a student again is the world of opportunities (beyond always having people to study with at stupid o’clock) that have suddenly opened, and that are situated literally on my doorstep. It’s a little overwhelming. I’m a short walk from campus and literally (no but literally) across the road from the university sports centre. I’ve taken up gymnastics and today did an actual somersault for the first time in my life. I mean, I didn’t land elegantly on my feet or anything, but I did a freaking 360 in mid-air; that’s an achievement for me.

During Fresher’s Week I signed up to the mailing lists of various societies I never joined (including the Hellenic Society, Art Soc, Chamber Orchestra, Kickboxing, to name a few) and I still get their newsletters. I could unsubscribe, but I kind of like to hear about what’s going on, even if I don’t take part. Somehow it’s nice just to get a glimpse of the vast array and variety of things available to us here.

Last night I attended a University-organised screening of the film Dear White People, followed by a discussion. Now, much as I love our kitchen parties and nights out trawling the bars that line the street next door (I love where I live), this event is the kind of thing I came to university for. Judging by the discussion afterwards, it was largely populated by students of social science subjects, or who have training in that area. I got to hear different points of view, express my own, and even seek advice from my learned peers. It was necessary nourishment for my soul as well as my mind to, just for an hour, be in a room with fellows who share my concern and passion, and who could also educate me.

Sure sometimes we natter and gossip like any group of twentysomethings, but often I find myself embroiled in some intellectual discussion or other, and having a diversity of disciplines represented never hurts. It can lead to odd conversations, though. This evening at home, a passing comment about who lives in which room on what corridor veered off into a physics tangent about displacement which I admittedly tuned out of.

That is another of the great joys of university life: the privilege of being around people whom you might never otherwise encounter. A world of different nationalities and specialties can come together and commune for a while, before being blasted out into reality where we can finally (as we hale, hearty, idealistic students always believe) change the world.

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