Ode To Freshmanship
“Not nervous even in the slightest”, said no one during their first day. I hyperventilated whilst wandering completely lost. Told myself I am a grown, Independent Woman. Do not need to call out for the most Miraculous Saviour of them all (my mum) to survive the grand expectation constructed upon us all - to find the right hall. It was then when I laid my eyes on the phenomenal view: Metsätalo. One of the hundred billion gazillion different university buildings we were supposed to get to know and to find.
Three kinds of groupings of individuals could be sorted in the scenery: tutors with overalls (clearly having the answers to everything), us (timid, clueless freshmen) and strangers with Ask Me pins. There was just a teeny, tiny problematic equation: I’m Finnish. I cannot ask for help. After searching around forever (twenty seconds) I encouraged myself and walked towards a group of tutors. ”English?” I attempted to ask with a robotic tone. Trying to act cool. No intonation whatsoever. It came out as a scream.
Found the hall and sat down. Mesmerised by everything whilst trying not to hurl. Timetable claimed ten o’clock sharp. It was five past. This was the moment we learnt the policy of the famous Academic Quarter. Then was the go for the university tour. Tried to make friends. I’m bad with names and faces (when I say bad I mean terrible) which is why introductions could actually form one of the circles in Dante’s Inferno. Need not remind that I’m a stereotypical Finn, ergo very bad at small talk, my only option was to be funny. It was supposedly a goodish effort. I found myself hilarious. Others considered me a weirdo (they still do).
During the orientation week, we had hundreds (three) of welcoming events. During two of them, we were recommended to consider the options of minor and master subjects. I didn’t even know what courses to choose or whether I was going to make it through the first period. On the third event, we were told what a marvellous choice we have made to have chosen a field in the humanities. ”You will get employed”, they reassured during their speeches. As a matter of fact, we should arrange a drinking game out of that sentence. Every time it is heard during the years of our studies, pour a drink and down it. Also, bear in mind the most parroted phrase amongst students: “one can always retake an exam, but not a party”.
The most important thing to learn: never ever dare make the inexcusable mistake of referring to the Monumental Facility as school. You do not go to school. You go to the university. There are no teachers. There are many other ways of referring to lecturers (all of which I cannot yet name), but definitely not teachers. No one will do anything for you. You are responsible for yourself and your own actions. You are an adult. So they say. I showed a lector a photo of my dogs in matching raincoats. I do not want to adult. Please don’t make me adult.
The first lecture. Was eager to learn everything. Understood nothing. Already failed. It happened during the second week. What’s this, you ask. Our future for the next indefinite amount of years. They say that the most difficult part is to pass the entrance exam and get into the Uni. They lie. Tried to borrow a book from the library. Sought it for a quarter. Finally, discovered the correct piece. Only one of them left. All, hail the fortune. As I was reaching for the book, feeling very proud of this amazing achievement, a hand (other than mine) nicked the book right there under my nose at that very nanosecond (in slow motion, of course). I said nothing. Just stood there abashed. Pretended to continue searching for something completely different. I was defeated. I could not show it. Never forget. As I am writing this, I still do need that book. Wondering what on earth I am doing at the university. Some say we will find our places in the community as individuals. I say psychotherapy.
Now, top 3 of my most dreaded fears:
1) James Joyce
And last, but not least:
You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.
I actually can.
PS. Frank is not a dude and Unicafe is not a chat site.