see you

I remember there was a time in my university days when I had this realisation that I could no longer say “see you tomorrow” as a standard thing when leaving for home. The chance of seeing someone on any given weekday during semester depended on what classes were on, when we were going to have our lunch breaks, and which buildings they would be in during the course of the day.

During uni, I still hung out with several of my high school friends, even if they were studying different courses. During high school, it was just about certain to see each other each day and the next, so it was easy enough to say “see you tomorrow” at the end of any day, Monday to Thursday. Hence the change during uni made an impression on me.

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the joy of learning

All through my childhood and school years, I did quite well academically. I liked school (mostly), I enjoyed learning new things, and I relished any opportunity to show that I was a bright and capable student (except I was never that kid who put their hand up to answer questions in class).

After finishing high school, I went straight into university, and did my Pharmacy degree. Although there was a bit of an adjustment phase to this new learning structure, I did enjoy university too. There was something of a thrill in being presented with this new level of intellectual challenge.

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I am a bit of a nerd. Now, I know that’s not really much of a revelation, but what is, is that I sometimes go through days, and even weeks, when I don’t feel like learning about things, or doing anything for the betterment of my education. When I was finishing up at uni, in my final year of Pharmacy, I thought that I could easily return to student life, and that I would be able to do so with the same enthusiasm I somehow maintained for four years through a degree that everyone else seemed to complain incessantly about. (I’m just kidding – it wasn’t that bad. The complaining, that is.)

But after finishing my internship, and working full-time for a while, and discovering all these wonderful things I could do outside of work now that I had a full-time job – after all that I just couldn’t picture myself going back to uni again. Certainly not as a full-time student, anyway. And somewhere along the line, my lust for learning seems to have tarnished somewhat.

However, when, earlier in the year, I heard that the World Science Festival was coming to Brisbane, I got pretty excited. And then I wondered what on earth the World Science Festival actually was…

Well, as it turns out, it’s a bunch of talks and exhibits and things, involving renowned science people from around the world, converging in one place to disseminate knowledge to the masses. (Sorry, I’m not sure why I’m being so wordy tonight. Perhaps attending the WSF has inflated my sense of my own intelligence.)

Scrolling through the events list, one that immediately caught my eye was the so-called “signature event” titled “Madness redefined: Creativity, intelligence and the dark side of the mind”. As one speaker on the day pointed out, it’s not the most politically correct title, but it certainly is intriguing.

I’ve never been diagnosed with a mental illness (self-diagnoses and jocular ones from friends don’t count), but I do have a fascination with all things related to the inner workings of the mind. I would also like to think, if I am permitted to do so without seeming immodest, that I am, in some way, creative and also intelligent; so I thought for sure this would be the one event I had to go to. And it did not disappoint.

And to think that I almost didn’t go because I had to pay $30 to attend! Perhaps I’m too used to feeling like education should be free (what with HECS or HELP or whatever they’re calling it now – that government loan thing that means we don’t have to pay for uni until after we’ve graduated and have secured a job that pays enough to pay the government).

So today, on a whim (but also quite determinedly), I went to the Convention Centre where the talk was to be held, and I bought myself a ticket, and I sat down in this auditorium full of, presumably, other nerds, and maybe people with various mental illnesses, and people who would wish to be considered creative.

Buying my ticket (I’m surprised it wasn’t sold out), I was feeling good that I was doing something for myself – something to improve that aspect of my life that has been a bit neglected lately. Despite being worried that my attention and concentration wouldn’t hold out for the 90 minutes that the talk was scheduled for (not to say anything of my stomach, as the talk was 12pm, and I hadn’t had a chance to acquire any food beforehand), sitting in the auditorium, waiting for the talk to start, I felt some of that enthusiasm and eagerness for learning that I’d had back in my uni days.

To be fair, the Pharmaceutical Society have held some very interesting lectures and workshops, in the years that I’ve been a member, that have evoked this same sort of feeling; so it wasn’t special in this sense. As good as it was, it probably still wasn’t enough to make me want to go back to uni and complete a second degree, so it wasn’t revelatory in this way either.

What struck me the most was actually a feeling very similar to one that I got from attending The Script’s concert last year: it was this wonder and awe that there were so many other people (complete strangers!) that had come together in this one space because of a shared interest. That is an incredible feeling. I suppose it’s almost like belonging and anonymity mixed together.

And as for the actual content of the talk, I’m still ruminating on that, so it’ll have to be a separate post.

back to school

As part of the PSA’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program thing, I have the option of attending monthly lectures at the old Pharmacy School (by which I mean the new-ish Pharmacy School because the actual old Pharm School back on campus is no longer, well, the Pharm School).

The first lecture of the year was held tonight and, despite forgetting it was on until a friend reminded me at lunch time, and despite feeling kind of sleepy after work, and despite taking a bit longer than anticipated to eat dinner and almost being late for the lecture, I did actually go.

It’s been a long time since I was last at PACE (ok, not that long… probably less than a year, but still…) and it seems like not much has changed. But, to be fair, I wasn’t really looking around much because I kind of rushed in before the lecture, and rushed out afterwards. One thing that definitely didn’t change is the smell – and I mean that in a good way. As soon as I walked through the main glass doors, I breathed in that familiar smell that I may potentially forever associate with PACE. I felt like I was back in my uni days, going to lectures and tutorials (except that this was in the evening).

It’s a very particular smell, and even though it’s probably just from the carpets or something, it seems distinct and unique to PACE. And, just to verify that I’m not crazy – or at least not that crazy – I would just like to say that a friend from the same cohort who was also at the lecture, did mention the smell without my mentioning it first.

(As a kind of random side note, I’d just like to say that, since leaving uni, I never thought I’d be writing any more posts to be filed under in the “uni” category in this blog’s “filing cabinet”… And yet, here I am, writing about the nostalgic smell of PACE…)

first first day

So today was the first day back at uni. Not for me, but for a lot of people I know. Feels weird not having a first day back at school/uni. It’s my first year in however many years of not having a “first day” – the first “first day” that I don’t have (if that makes sense).

I do sort of miss uni. I don’t exactly miss Pharm school as a place, since I’ve already been there about three times so far this year for workshops, etc and I’ll probably be there quite a few more times before the year is through. But I guess I miss the .. lifestyle (?) that comes with being a uni student.

I suppose this is all a part of growing up or something.

At the moment, I’m sort of caught between really wanting to study (because I think I’ve forgotten a lot of stuff since finishing final exams last year and also because there are quite a few things we weren’t really taught at all) and really wanting to read another novel (not any novel in particular, although I have received several recommendations that I hope to get around to some time in the near future).

In the past, the first day back at uni meant I read nothing other than course-related material until the end of exams for that semester. It wasn’t so much a self-imposed restriction/ban, but when I prioritised my reading, course work always came first. Since the intern program doesn’t exactly have semesters, if I used the same prioritising system, I might not read another novel until November/December, which is an incredibly horrific thought.

I think I should get back to reading ‘Brother Fish’ …right after I finish my online quizzes.

reality – check

And so ends another chapter…

Final results were released today. I passed everything, which means I’m officially finished with my first university degree. In terms of grades, I did ok. I’m happy that I passed but, you know, could’ve done better (maybe).

But you know what I am chuffed about? I am chuffed about having a genuine reason for using the word “chuffed” and about being one step closer to becoming a registered pharmacist. It’s really sinking in now that I know I’m going to graduate and… I got my pharmacists’ coat~ (Yes, that is a big deal. I feel twice as professional with it (NB: uniform minus coat is already quite professional-looking). Plus, I get more pockets.)

So now I just have to wait for registration to be confirmed – then I’ll officially be an intern. At the moment, I’m in pre-pre-reg limbo.

But, I have to admit, I am a little wary about things getting harder from here on in. It’s sort of like I’m walking down a street, expecting something to jump out from every corner.

Whatever. I’ll get there when I get there.

Oh, and since I’m graduating, this could very well be the last post that gets filed under the “uni” category. That’s not really that revolutionary or anything, but I thought I’d mention it.

If these last four years were a person, I’d want to give ’em a big hug