iyosayi14 General, Reflections Leave a Comment

After yet another grueling three months, I once again got to shut down my laptop, signaling the end of yet another semester. This semester broke me. Right from resumption there was a disconnect I felt towards my studies (I still can’t place it), unlike the first semester I was wholeheartedly excited about. Something didn’t feel right with some of the units I took and well, I think I also do not like my department. They are quite stingy with marks, and you must work your ass off to get a distinction on each assessment. I enjoyed the academic writing assessments, but the core project management tasks were not very enjoyable. Why do I have to draw up contract documents that the leg al department would have a template for? The most exciting assessment was when I had to use Microsoft project, this was a full day’s job but I enjoyed it.

Before resumption, I had anticipated struggling in the first few weeks of resumption as I was going to have to juggle the new semester with a major change. I had started a cookery course two weeks earlier at a college. This is not some fancy culinary class; it’s a school with a proper curriculum and assessments. While I feel I was able to handle both schools concurrently and can’t exactly point to it as being the reason why I struggled with the MSc coursework, I know on a rational level doing two schools at the same time while also working is no mean feat. I am probably too quick to forget the difficult times. I remember when I was overwhelmed at the beginning of the semester, struggling to balance both schools and Ravi sent me a lovely message one morning. God bless Ravi for me, my anchor.

Why am I doing two schools? Well, if there is one thing 2021 taught me, it’s how not to put all my eggs in one basket. Also, the Australian way to get ahead is to do all you can, all at once as things are ever-changing. I was looking for an alternative path to improve my residency chances, of the several options cookery appealed to me the most. I have always loved cooking and fancied the idea of going to a cookery school, but it was always one of those fancy dreamy ideas I never thought would see the light of day. As I said to Aisha, being in the kitchen is my happy place. It feels like I’m living three lives all at once, alternating between my MSc and the cookery college and then work. Cookery is a light I have found, though I initially had imposter syndrome my reservations as I didn’t think I’d be able to do it, but it’s been going smoothly and most importantly, it has been a major source of excitement. I don’t know if I’ll create a career out of it as it never crossed my mind to be a career Chef, so I’ll enjoy the process and see where life leads. 

Handling multiple assessments from both schools was crazy. I had to figure out how to prioritize and dance around the deadlines, but hey, I have completed two semesters successfully on both though not without bruises. My breaking point was due to some poor calculations. I had an assessment due by the weekend on one of my unit courses from the university, but I chose to go clubbing the Friday before. 

I was at breaking point, and I needed to let out the wiggle as advised by Beyonce. I found an African club that night and they played Nigerian music almost all through. I partied from 11 pm to 4 am the next day. I slept for about three hours and headed for a 24-hour work shift. I did this because I thought the request for the extension I had logged would be approved. Earlier in the semester I realized I was punishing myself by trying to submit all assessments by the due date and not requesting for extension even when I was down with the flu. A friend advised me to get a medical certificate and seek for extension, I did, and it was approved. Realizing how much easier my life was, I decided enough of my ‘sufferhead’ disguised as being disciplined and resilient. I wasn’t trying to prove anything to anyone, it’s just a culture I had imbibed from my formative years. But the truth is, life isn’t supposed to be hard especially when there are resources available. I told myself henceforth when I get overwhelmed, I will request extensions and take it easy on myself. 

Oh well, I miscalculated this one and chose the cheaper option of self-diagnoses (reasons why they say cheap stuff dey run belle). If I had gotten a medical certificate (which I eventually did funny enough), that extension request would have been approved. Come the due date of the assessment, it wasn’t approved (the previous extension was approved the morning of the due date). My head was only just clearing from the previous night of partying. I tried to quickly get it done, but anxiety got the best of me. I shut my laptop and went to bed very early. I barely slept. 

The next day I reached out to student support and tried to track my extension request; they told me to get in contact with the unit head who was to approve it. Remember the academic I complained about last semester? it was him and I have gotten the validation that indeed he is evil. My friend confirmed the same, and he also said his classmates all dislike the man. Anyway, I didn’t get the extension for that assessment, but I was able to get it for the next assessment which was a lifesaver. This entire drama led to me failing my driving test later that week. The driving inspector was surprised at how a simple mistake threw me off and I broke down with anxiety. 

This happened second week of October, about three weeks before the end of the semester. I managed to push through and fight my way to successfully conclude the semester. At a point I legit thought of dropping out and focusing on the cookery school alone as four of my colleagues had done. But nah, I love both programs and they both have different meanings for me. the MSc gives me a sense of purpose, while the cookery program gives me fulfillment. Do I regret going clubbing that night? Not at all, even though after several reviews I have come to realize that was the genesis of the problem. If asked to do it over again, I still would go to the club that night. It was an important night for me and I got the chance to hang out with my buddy who relocated to another state the following week and also I needed to release my soul.

I haven’t gotten the result of what I expect to be my worst assessment so far. I hurriedly did it as it was already two days late and that would cost me a 15% penalty. There’s no way I am going to pass that assessment. My major fear is I hope it doesn’t impact my cumulative grade and topple me from the distinction I have been struggling to maintain. A thought crossed my mind the other day – ‘school nor too hard, na you dey find distinction.’

Second most awarded in training school but yet, not top 3. sigh

Truth is, If I decide to stop chasing after graduating with distinction then I know the pressure will be a lot less, but I have never been the type to go into anything without striving to be the best at it. It doesn’t make sense to me, because if that’s not the goal then what’s the point? Even if I don’t get it, I’ll be satisfied knowing I tried. Well, I am awaiting the results, even if I drop, I know I hopefully shouldn’t be too far off. I have two more semesters to work on covering the gap. However, l want to put it out to the universe that I want to graduate with a distinction because it is personal for me. I want it as a sort of compensation for missing out on first class in my undergraduate program after coming within reach. I want the final prize, because over time I have always been the student who has good grades in some courses, tops the class in a couple of assessments, or courses but doesn’t end up getting the final overall top grade. I need that story to change. 

I want all the distinctions and high distinctions I have had in various units to amount to a final cumulative distinction. If in the end, I do not get a distinction overall, I will deal with my feelings and remember how I stopped feeling bad about not graduating with a first class at undergraduate level as I realized if I had, I would have chosen the easy option of pushing to be a lecturer and I would have missed out on my exciting and financial rewarding banking career I once stated I wanted in my early years of the Bsc. So yes, if I do not get a distinction, I’ll once again remind myself of what Anesh told me at the start of this journey – take rejections as redirections. I will deal with my feelings and be at peace knowing that it is my guiding light to better life opportunities as this has so far been the pattern of my life; rejections serving as directions.

I thought, maybe I should fail the unit so I can have the chance to rewrite it next year. I could have not turned in the assessment and automatically gotten a fail in the unit, though it will cost me about four thousand dollars to re-register but I was not sure if they would give me the full grade for a resit. Anyway, I’ll know by the end of the month when the results are released. To protect my mental health, I have chosen to not check my grades till the final results are published.
This weighed me down for some weeks and I know it’s the reason why the moment I submitted my final assessment for the semester, I didn’t feel excited. I was expecting the feeling of relief I had after the first semester ended. However, this time around, once I shut down my laptop all I felt was exhaustion and sadness. Ravi was there for me yet again and tried to talk me into feeling better, but it didn’t work. I went to bed early and woke up feeling even more blue. I did some rants about how I was feeling but I knew the first step to recovery was writing this post.

I am currently on semester break and my focus is de-stressing, reclaiming, and getting back to myself. No one ever talks about how much graduate school takes away from you and you lose so much of yourself.

The moment I got into my apartment the day after the break started, the first thing I did was to put on my television. I have been paying Netflix subscription for three months without turning on the TV. I feel lost, like I don’t know myself anymore and would need to go on a mini journey of self-discovery.
It’s been two weeks into the semester break and I do not feel exactly rested (yet). I was beginning to worry I wouldn’t be able to relax before resumption, thankfully I caught myself just in time.

The plan is to focus on things that bring me joy while practicing slow living. My recovery plan is as follows – 

  • Write this post to gain clarity and let go of all the mess in my head.
  • Do chores; I haven’t washed my car in over three months.
  • Cook a lot of recipes from cooking practical classes. Is it weird that cooking helps me destress?
  • I have several books I need to read. I finally got delivery of the two books I ordered from my favourite online self-help writer who I have quoted a lot in my posts – Jamie Varon. I purchased her books as a way of showing my appreciation and supporting her work.
  • Read all the opened webpages and substack posts piled up in my email. I have about 99 unread emails, it should have been more if not for a short break to Townsville for Akin’s wedding where I was able to read some articles during airport layovers. That trip made me realize I was getting to burn out stage.
  • Go clubbing at least once a month 
  • Run more (I need to pick at least one day of the week for this and commit to it). 
  • I have a long list of movies and shows I have to watch before resumption. 
  • Explore more music and sort out my music library and playlists 
  • Practice gratitude daily, embrace being happy, and enjoy slow living till well, the next semester resumes. 🙁

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