What It Was Like To Be A Freshman At 29

So I’ve officially ended my first semester back in college after an 8-year hiatus. The grades are coming in – I’ve gotten 3 grades of 4, with MATH153 still trailing behind the others (which is understandable since the Professor had 200 students to grade for). I’m pleased to announce that I’m currently holding a 4.0 GPA (that is until I get my MATH153 grade) so I actually did pretty well in school so far…

Anyway, I’m going to summarize my experience in college as a 29-year-old. Of course, this post isn’t all inclusive as I’m sure there will be things I’ll forget to add but as much as possible, these are the things that I’ve experienced this semester.

The Good

  • I learned a lot!
    • Academically speaking, I learned that math isn’t as difficult as popular opinion dictates and with the right facilitator or teacher, even someone who constantly struggled with math can succeed!. It was a continual discovery for me as I got better and better at math. I’m not so good that I’d start doing statistics and calculus now or so good that I’d willing do those courses, BUT good enough that I’m projecting either an A or a high B for my final grade in the Algebra and Trigonometry 1 class. I’m also good enough now that I no longer dread math and am starting to enjoy it – two things that I never thought I would ever come to terms with!
    • I learned how to use one of the most complicated programs I’ve ever seen – autoCAD. I’m sure there are more complicated programs out there that I’ve never even heard of but for my caliber, autoCAD is pretty complicated. I’m so excited to know that I not only managed to learn this program but also got an A in the class! I thoroughly enjoyed this class and though I still can’t say I like orthographic projections or isometric drawings yet, I still liked learning how to draw those in this program! It also makes me very grateful to be living in a time where I can simply use a program to create complicated architectural drawings and that I don’t have to do complicated math myself to achieve the level of technicality that architectural drawings require.
    • I learned a lot about the industry of Interior Design. I learned the basics of hand drafting floor plans, using technical terms, using design principles as well as how to present ideas and design concepts. From my Introduction to Interior Design class, I learned the fundamentals of being an Interior Designer. Although the final project was very overwhelming initially (I had to design a living room, parts of a kitchen, a dining room and a sunroom), in the end, it was a very satisfying project to finish. It also made me aware of the designs that I personally find pleasing (I found that I leaned towards more masculine designs like contemporary, industrial and loft designs).
    • I learned how to draw with proper proportions and I finally learned how to draw perspective drawings. Through my Drawing class, I also greatly improved my drawing skills – it was something I found most exciting because though I’ve been drawing my entire life, I don’t think I’ve been very good at it until recently. As someone who wants to make art a side business in the future somehow, I’m very pleased with this part of my growth.
    • Non-academically, I learned new things about myself and my own strengths and weaknesses. I learned that I have several mental illnesses that need addressed and through learning of them, I am able to now take steps towards recovery. I also learned that the expectations that I put on myself can be a little too lofty but it is those expectations that is going to propel me forward and further than I’ve ever been in my life! I also learned that by exposing myself to like-minded people, my creativity is boosted and I find myself using my brain more than I ever have.
  • I met a number of really cool people.
    • Although most of them were non-traditional students that I had befriended, they were all awesome people. It’s a little strange though that I ended up befriending people who were either my own age or older because I never intended to do so. In fact, I never really intended to make any friends. I was going back to school to achieve my own academic goals but I ended up with some friends! How amazing is that?
    • One of these people, a middle-aged man (who often described himself as “the old homo”), is definitely someone I grew close with through this semester. He and I were partners in a couple of classes – by choice of course – and we found out how well we worked together. He brought his perspective as a former professional in the industry who had returned to school to pursue a Bachelor’s in the field as well as an interesting man with many talents (he sings in a choir, for example!) while I brought my perspective as a former college English teacher, an immigrant and an Oriental Asian. The amount of things I learned from him was tremendous – I learned so much about our industry and about the different sources/vendors/manufacturers and picked up Interior Design related terms and language as well. He told me that on his part, he learned to be more flexible with his outlook and in his designs because he learned that not everyone would like the same things or agree with the same concepts – especially not someone who is foreign.
    • On a more personal level, though I have gay friends, I’ve never really hung out with a gay guy as much as I have had with him. I really learned new things on that level and I really enjoyed getting to know him!
  • I get student discounts!
    • As someone who has to work an unstable hourly job, every single discount counts! So I’m delighted to say that this is one of the best perks of being a student! The discounts! I also get heavily discounted or free softwares like autoCAD, Photoshop, Microsoft Office etc. It’s really awesome!
  • Everything is new.
    • Being a student meant that I was going to a new place and being in a new place, I am constantly finding new things to see, do and experience. I’m a very experience based person and I enjoy gathering new experiences (yes, even painful ones).
  • It provides a distraction.
    • As mentioned before, I suffer from ADHD, mild anxiety and moderate depression. Going to school provides me a relief from the day-to-day grind that contributes to more depression. Going to class and working on projects take my mind off of the more depressing realities that I struggle with daily.

The Bad

  • I learned that I hate my job even more now.
    • I actually dread the weekends because it meant that I’ll be back to work. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy working with the people I work with. They’re some of the most amazing people I have the privilege to know. However, I find that I seriously dislike the job itself. I found that my patience with rude and entitled people has worn itself so thin that I’m wary that I might snap someday. I don’t like how meaningless it can be to do the same thing over and over every single day. As a job, in itself, it’s not a bad job. But when you add the stress of dealing with ungrateful people, it just really mars the overall enjoyment of the job. Perhaps if people were to treat me like an actual human being with real feelings, things would be better. Otherwise, I love Mondays because it means that I’ll be back in school for the next 4 days.
  • I dislike the uncaring and apathetic “teenagers” I meet in school.
    • I say “teenagers” because despite being supposed “young adults”, none of these kids act like they are anything but adolescents. Sure, they’ve all just graduated high school and as freshmen (or even sophomores), nothing is more important to them than their desire for fun and personal gain. Who cares about classes or the Professors? Everyone around them is there to serve them and their needs. I dislike hearing these young people bad mouth their teachers and staff the most. To be fair, not all of them are like that; it’s only unfortunate that I’ve managed to come across too many that are.
  • Travelling.
    • It’s extremely annoying that my husband has to drive me to school, drive himself home and then drive back to school to pick me up and drive us both home again. All because my ADHD prevents me from functioning normally as a driver. I also really dislike the amount of time we spend just travelling from place to place. It takes us about 40 minutes on a good day to about 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach campus and back again. That’s a lot of time that I could spend doing other things instead of being stuck in a car.

Overall, I discovered plenty of new things for myself as well as deepened my love for drawing and design. Going into Interior Design had never been a better choice!

One of my Professors thanked me at the end of the final class and said that myself and the other 3 non-traditional students (i.e. the older students) really brought an edge to the class and helped bring a good focus to the younger students. She said that in previous classes, she’d never had students be so attentive and she’s never had much interactions between students because no one would speak up or ask questions. She also said that the four of us really motivated the younger ones to sit up and pay attention. “Hey look. They’re our competition. This is what it’s like to be an adult now” was basically what she said the younger students were thinking. We had several really unmotivated students in the beginning of the class but by the end of it, they managed to pull through. I’d like to think that my being back in school didn’t only benefit me but others as well! It’s an amazing feeling!

Now summer break has begun and I really can’t wait for when Fall semester begins!

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