My ‘Arts Education’ is ruining me

“You can just tell when someone is from the Arts faculty,” a science student commented.

“What do you mean by that?”

“I don’t know. errrrr. I guess you guys are just very opinionated and think very differently?”


Context

Contemporary Singapore society, albeit gradual shifts in perspective, still value a Science/Math education over the Arts– entrenched by State emphasis on the sciences early on its in education reform. This could perhaps account for the number of perplexed faces I’ve witnessed as a result of my telling them that I’m pursuing a degree in arts. “Oh cool. So you can draw very well?” they would respond. Sure… let’s just go with that.  

But for those who actually do realise that I am generally referring to the Humanities and Social Sciences, usually respond with a curious amalgam of incredulity and scepticism. They can’t seem to rationalise the purpose of an Arts education vis-à-vis an actual career trajectory. Follow up questions, along the lines of “What are you planning to do after that?” usually ensue. The general implied consensus is that my degree is of little value– and by extension; my intellect.

Ironically, the Arts faculty is by far the largest in NUS, with an intake of around 1200 undergrads per year. Critics reconcile this paradox by subscribing to the perception that the faculty is a ‘dumping-ground’ for those who could not secure places in science-related faculties (subsuming a considerable population of undergrads, like me, who willingly chose the Arts). Alas, this perpetuates the notion that the Arts kids are just not ‘smart’ enough.

Now that I have established the context within which my education is being perceived by others –although I admit that these are my sole interpretation of general sentiments and are, thus, open to my bias/overstatements– I shall present a non-exhaustive list of reasons as to why my education is ‘ruining’ me.  Continue reading

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Hand-Me-Down some goddamn Textbooks

I am sorry that I haven’t been able to update this place in a while. I’ve been really caught up with school, studying and just a speck of socialising. I came across today’s prompt to write about a meaningful hand-me-down in my life. I really don’t have much time to reminisce nor contemplate such a significant object. Instead I am going to write a short rant about a current grievance in my life.

Textbooks are staple to a student’s academia. Yet, they costs too damn much! A brand new textbook could range anywhere between fifty to over a hundred dollars. Do you know how many modules I take each semester? FIVE. And the most infuriating part is that they are only ever relevant to that one specific module – that doesn’t even last you a goddamn year!

So, to answer the question; “Would you please hand me down some goddamn textbooks?” Trust me, they are so very meaningful to me and I will love you for it.

O Apollo, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

I dedicated my yester–free–day to Literature.

I spent the entire day revisiting the materials covered in the lectures over the past 3 weeks – all of which were devoted to Poetry. Poetry is beautiful, but abstract; some might even consider it irrelevant. Personally, I love the language part of it. I love the way the theme and context, expressed through metaphors and imagery, evoke such deep feelings (I’m too proud to say ’emotions’) in me.

But we all know that Poetry is multi-dimensional. You can never observe it –through a critical literary eye– without considering the metrical structure, rhythm and other poetic devices within it. And really, this is the part where I completely suck at.

I can identify the pattern of words, sounds and even rhyme; but for the life of me, I can seem to identify the metre with ease. I mean, aren’t they arbitrary? Isn’t it dependent on the manner in which you read it? My lecturer asks us to follow our instincts; “which do you feel is more literary?”

I don’t know. Perhaps we ask Apollo for help, shall we?

I can never seem to follow through with my scansion as I am inherently doubting myself. And if I were to ignore my uncertainty and go ahead with it, I end up with weird metrical structures. I once ended up with a mix of  iambic and trochaic metres within the same lime, only to learn that the line is supposed to have an iambic pentameter. Great!

I also seem to have trouble associating technical jargons to actual meaning. Let’s suppose a certain poem has an alternative quatrain  and the first two lines seem to display an iambic pentameter. How does this translate into what the persona has got to say??

Clearly, I am struggling with this module. Also, I think my compounded confusion and frustration materialised itself this morning – in the form of severe flu, headache and fever.

I have taken some medication (which happens to be drowsy), so I’m off to bed in a bit. In the mean time, if any literary geniuses (or aspiring poets) out there would like to help me out bit, please do so. Any help/input is better than nothing at all!

The Freshman Chronicles

I have come to the end of the second week of this academic year. Having been away from a school setting for the past 2 years has clearly affected my adaptability. I have seemingly forgotten how tedious being a student can be – it’s a full time job that transcends ‘working hours’. It’s only the end of week two and I already have numerous readings back logged.

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Oh, how I miss the tranquility of bumming around. Now, I have to juggle school, co-curricular activities and trainings. I’m so exhausted by the end of the day that having a (social) life appears to be frivolous. This would explain the little or sporadic posts I have published on this blog over the past couple of weeks. I am also seriously wondering if I would even be able to find the time for any creative writing at all.

Anyhow, more on my university education. I’m a freshman from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Continue reading