A university life

I wrote in a recent job application that I enjoy the rhythms of university life. A year segmented into semesters, exam blocks and summers. The rush of O-Week, the thrill of graduations. Busy periods punctuated with peaceful lulls.

Unlike some declarations on some job applications, it was all true! My life, which has thus far constituted twelve years of school, five years of full-time university study, a few years of casual and more recently full-time work at university, has always been segmented in this way.

I couldn’t dream of day in day out work where things are more or less the same, no matter the week or month. How do you know it’s late February without noticing the bus is fuller than usual or the line is longer for sushi? How do you know it’s early December if not for the relieved ex-students in flowing academic gowns and (even more relieved) families hovering nearby with phones out for photos?

It’s why we have long weekends and holidays and cultural events – to break up the sameness. And so everyone remembers what time of year it is.

My small section of university life barely accounts for the totality of the experience. I’ve studied and tutored a little, and I’ve worked across a few sections of the vast professional workforce and I’ve barely scratched the surface. Areas such as student engagement and support, research, community outreach, which make up a huge majority of what makes up a university, are largely alien to what I’ve encountered. 

Yet, the joy of working in such enormous and successful organisations is that I feel part of it all the same. I love walking around campus, not knowing many people, not knowing what they do, yet knowing, somehow, in some way, we’re all working towards a common goal.

And the people I do know and work with are some of the best people I’ve ever met. They’re smart, far smarter than me, and committed to their jobs. I think we all know we’ve got it good – and don’t want to let this go to waste. And while I rarely deal with students these days, the ones I dealt with were fine young people – not lazy or entitled but ambitious and grateful.  

Sure, some things could do with improving. It’d be silly to say universities don’t face the same challenges of all industries, and a few unique to higher education. But bloody hell, there are worse places to end up working. It’s not my overall dream but if a creative life doesn’t work out, then this’ll be a worthwhile way to spend my time. On a purely superficial level, the universities I’ve come across campuses are beautiful places to walk around. More beautiful than, say, most shopping centres, which have a similar array of tremendous food options. Any workplace with a GYG is one worth fighting for.

So I don’t know if I’m a huge nerd (correction: I am) or if working in the university sector has been inspiring me, but my further study ambitions are blooming more than ever recently. If I can get everything together, I might just have the chance to see another side of the uni story – a researcher and academic life.

I’m sure it’ll be as enjoyable as the rest.

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