Everything’s coming up to the crunch – which feels a bit premature to say nearing the end of Week Three. Quizzes, assignments, and tests are rearing their anxiety-inducing heads; friends of mine are skipping lectures in order to catch up on other ones; and The Engineers have started submitting inside jokes to Urban Dictionary. Everything feels like a bit of a mess. But it’s at times like these that we’ve got to take a leaf out of Anton Ego’s book, and think about some fresh perspective.
The thing about halls is that it provides a very insular environment where study is concerned. In some respects, that’s phenomenal – you’re really close to campus, you can get all the mentoring and academic support you’ll ever need, and while distractions are on offer, it’s only a matter of time before knuckling down becomes the most viable option. It also means uni can be a bit hard to escape at times – which is why it’s always important to take a break.
In my eagerness to adhere to all points mentioned in Study Tips and Study Quips, I’d kind of forgotten that. I was going from class to my room to dinner to my room to rehearsals for work with the Auckland Theatre Company to my room – and I felt guilty for socialising on the rare occasions when I did. (It got to the point where my neighbour literally said to me, “I like this new Tate. This one who hangs out with us.”)
So, on Sunday, when my best friend Brad called me up and demanded that I go with him to see POWER PLANT at the Domain, I let him talk me into it. Sure, I still brought my Law coursebook and my European Studies textbook in the car with me, but that was only because I’d had them with me when he picked me up – I’d done my readings, so why couldn’t I escape this mindset? (Imagine Hermione Granger on steroids and you get me.)
As it happens, that semi-impromptu night out was exactly what I needed. For a multitude of reasons:
- It reawakened my belief in the kindness of strangers. Brad had been unreliably informed that the show was free, when in reality it cost about $35. Fortunately – and by almost fairytale circumstance – two separate women came up to us, both with a ticket to give away to the 8.30 showing because someone in their group couldn’t make it. We were absolutely gobsmacked, and I still don’t feel like we thanked them enough.
- I felt creatively enriched and inspired. POWER PLANT was sinister and serene and striking. It’s a prime example of art that incites conversation with what it does and doesn’t divulge. At different points it could have been rooted in technology or aliens or ghosts or even a conversation about gender – but it was never explicit about what we were supposed to feel or think.
- It was a bit of familiarity I didn’t realise I was missing. While Auckland has very quickly become my home, there’s something so special about established comfort, about a life and a friendship that is lived in. There was a strange dichotomy of anchored growth when I was adventuring around Auckland with Brad – all we did was drive for a bit and get Maccas and climb up Mt. Eden (which is actually a lot – especially at night. Now, I don’t advocate climbing anything in the dark, but the view was absolutely spectacular – think “What A Lovely Night” in La La Land but with more twinkling city lights and, regrettably, less dancing.) This is going to sound really sappy, but it was so calming to be around someone who just knows me completely, with whom I share so many memories. A slice of an old home in the… cake… of the new? (In Auckland, we can have our cake and eat it, too! Optimism! Or – something!)
- I got to hang out with cats. As someone who left two cats at home in care of a mother who’d rather they’d stowed away in my bag, I have been missing feline affection – to the point Mum had to hold the phone to our cats’ ear one time she called. While climbing Mt. Eden, by some bizarre turn of events, Brad and I also had the good fortune of meeting two very friendly cats. We named them Hill and Summit respectively, because of where we met them, and it got to a point where we thought we’d be forced to adopt Summit because of how far the cat had followed us back to the car. (Don’t worry, O’Rorke Management – it didn’t hop in.)
So what’s the moral of this story?
Balance. Perspective. If you’ve studied Greek Theatre, sophrosyne.
Yes, it’s very important to stay on top of things, and yes, you should go to class and do your readings and form a routine as I continuously hammered home in the vlog – but also take time for yourself. Don’t get bogged down by assessments or some class you’re not liking as much as you thought you would – think about how hard you’ve worked to get here. Think about little moments of joy, and small victories.
You might just find that, like a very particular food critic with his first bite of that famed ratatouille, a little perspective goes a long way.