Credit: Elena Mozhvilo via Unsplash

Uni not universal

By Natascha Ewert

What happens when the bubble bursts?

It can be easy to forget how much of a privilege going to university is. Students are daily surrounded by all things university and often become blind toward or snobbish about other life paths. With each passing summer you feel different to your ‘hometown friends’; you’ve heard a couple of folk in your year have kids now. How different your life is compared to your old classmates. Old ties are severed and echo chambers develop, university becomes a bubble.

My bubble burst about a month ago when I realised that I wasn’t an academic. I enjoyed doing research, going to classes, taking part in the discussions and attending lectures. After years of conforming in primary school, highschool and then at university, I had pushed my artistic side away. The library is my second home; my mind and body suffer from it. 

People don’t always see it but I am a true rebel at heart. I don’t like to be told what to do and how to do it. My ‘stream of consciousness’ method doesn’t always work for essays and assignments, the flow of my thoughts ill-suited to academia. My expression works better for poetry. Because of that I feel I get lost in the details too much and it takes me longer to write because for some reason I feel I can’t do what teachers expect from me. 

Most people in Luxembourg study something ‘serious’, which often results in law, finance, architecture, medicine or education. Unfortunately, I’m not that type of person and the more I try to be something I’m not, the more difficult life becomes. I’m barely in touch with my former highschool classmates however from our last class gathering in December I learned that I’m not them and that’s a good thing. Did I make a mistake to attend university? No, I’ve learned a lot about myself and you cannot force these things. 

Most of the time, I rely on my intuition and memory when going to classes. I’m unbelievably manipulative in a sense that I will always find something to say. That’s what I realised as an undergraduate: I like the social part about university, but I am suffering from the long hours of overworking and pleasing a certain system that pretends to be creative and open-minded. Academia isn’t for everyone and being not academic is okay. I would even say it’s better to recognise what works and doesn’t during your studies. As I feel that university is a time for growth and expansion, and most importantly to make mistakes. There are many reasons why people do not attend university. Some people decide it isn’t for them. Some hold off and attend university much later in life: they get a job and even have a family. Others want to travel before committing four years to a degree. There are people who don’t have the privilege to attend university because of health or financial reasons – we should keep this in perspective. 

What I learned from this year is that I’m an artist and I will stop pretending I’m an academic. The majority of the people I went to school with are lawyers and I do not envy them. Why? Because I’m not a lawyer, nor an academic, nor a school teacher, but a writer and artist.


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