Halfway Through, Halfway There

No doubt this is partially the influence of my UK and Hong Kong friends who are doing three-year undergraduate degrees and will be graduating in the spring and summer of 2010  — now that I am midway through my own university career, I find myself frequently assessing what I’m doing here and what I’m going to be doing from now on.

Or, of course, I can blame UBC for my mid-university crisis. Has anyone else noticed those giant squares painted in seemingly random spots? “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?” the ground assertively philosophically asks me. “Getting the books that you told me are on my reading list, UBC!” was my mental answer at the time. But I decided it warranted a better one.

In terms of my degree requirements, after this year, I will be pretty much done, minus a thesis paper, a seminar or two, and the odd course here and there which I plan on fulfilling through distance ed. My English courses this term look to be quite spectacular (James Joyce at 9 am in the mornings, First Nations literature, and the Victorian novel? Yes, please!). I’m just struggling to decide whether I want to keep the seminar I’m signed up for or not — I just found a distance ed Sociology course that looks promising and I wonder if I really want to be doing Freud in-depth or whether I just think I should (the latter, actually). I won’t say which course I want, because there’s only one spot left and I’m afraid you might take it. Oh course-shopping, how I love thee occasionally. I probably ought to keep that seminar because I’m only doing one this year, but then again, I’m not graduating yet…

…because I still have eight to twelve months of co-op to complete. I finished my first co-op term this summer working as a Customer Service Representative for the YMCA Camps, YMCA of Greater Vancouver. It was a really good experience for me as I’d never worked in Vancouver before or in an office environment. (My part-time job is very comfortably done alone at home.) I needed a chance to gain some basic skills and familiarise myself with Canadian working culture, and I got it. Now that I’m feeling more confident, I’m excited about the challenges that will come in my next co-op placement, which I’ll begin looking for in January. (Ha. Ha. I say I’m excited now, but I bet I’ll be stressed out like crazy when searching for said job.)

The UBC Arts Co-op Program just emailed us recently telling us that we only need to complete three four-month work terms in order to complete the program, instead of the traditional four four-month work terms. While this means I could graduate in May 2011 (on time, in other words), I found out that I don’t want to. I want to do another four-month work term just to be able to compare the experiences, and then an eight-month term because I think that’s quite a different experience altogether. Of course, it probably won’t happen all that neatly, depending on what job I’m able to find and so on and so forth (or whether I find one, period). Still, even if I do decide to just do two more work terms, I’d rather use the extra time to

Go Volunteer Abroad!
I was going to do something like that in the summer before I graduate, but hey, now the possibility for going for a whole term is opening up for me! I haven’t broken the news to my mother yet, since the fulfilment of this wish of mine is still light years away and I don’t want to prematurely break her heart. But I want very, very badly to go.

I realise there’s some controversy surrounding people’s motives for volunteering internationally. What’s wrong with volunteering at home? Don’t you see how many problems there are here your local community too? Are you going because you want to spread some of your generosity and make people’s lives “better”? Is this just something else to put on your resume? These are genuine, valid concerns, and maybe I’ll put forth my own detailed viewpoint some other day, but for now:

I went on a volunteer trip to a home for former street kids in Cebu, the Philippines, when I was sixteen.  I’m not sure that I did as much for the children I met there as they did for me. I remain so grateful for my experience there, and what I learned: that there are problems everywhere in the world and you can always do something about them. It made me look at my own home and see what I could do in my own surroundings. It remains my most valuable experience to date, but 2005 was a while back (and getting further every year) — what’s important is what I do now. So I’d like to be of some small service somewhere in the next couple of years.

And, of course, there’s always

Grad School
to think about. Over the summer I concluded that no matter how I scrimp and save, I will never save a significant enough amount of money to make a difference to my grad school fund. Therefore, I permit myself to enjoy life as much as I can now before I go out into the wild, wild world to seek funding from someone else to pay for my studies. Well, there are some info sessions coming up on just such a problem, so perhaps I will discover my solution without having to resort to buying lottery tickets. Maybe I’ll also convince someone else to give me more money to study all these extra undergraduate courses I’ve always wanted to do, but never could fit into my schedule while I’m at it…

Oh, the possibilities.

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