A Whole Other World

This semester has been a bit of a weird one for me, for two main reasons and a third-ish not-so-main. So first reason, I haven’t had a studio to do or stress about, and chatting with friends who are doing studio, I’m not going to lie I miss it a little bit. Second reason, I’ve been doing two electives, both around Planning, and let me tell you it’s a whole other world! And the third reason, which is a few reasons smooshed together, I’m working full-time so I haven’t spent much time physically at uni compared to previous years when I was there for hours each day, every day. Given I submitted my last major big assignment ever*, I thought I’d share this other world and why a part of me hated the uni for forcing me to do these electives but also why I appreciate them for it.

“I thought you were finished?” is a common response when people ask what it is I’m up to and tell them ‘work and uni’, and I can’t fault them for thinking that because I finished my thesis project last semester. Usually when you finish thesis, you kind of finish university/architecture school, it’s seen as the final item left to tick off. However, I structured my semesters a little differently, allowing me to lessen my workload at times while still remaining a full-time student. By doing that, I would tell myself “I’ll do a winter intensive” and “I’ll do a summer intensive” as ways to catch up on the subjects. In the end I kept putting off my two multi-disciplinary electives, and I knew I just needed to get these done.

I do remember a couple moments during semester where I “missed” studio, I missed the process and weirdly enough I missed the all-nighters leading up to reviews. I’m sure there’s a psychological terminology for this, because if I were doing studio this semester I’d be stressed out and hating life during these all-nighters and doubting myself to the brink of nearly quitting during the process.

I’m not sure what it’s like at your architecture school and how your Masters degree is structured, but at the Melbourne School of Design at UniMelb, we have a few core subjects, studios and electives. With those electives, two need to come from a discipline that is not architecture, hence the name ‘multi-disciplinary’. I decided to use these two electives to study some planning subjects because I was interested in ……. Actually, to be truthful, the only reason why I chose these electives was because they were the only ones that could work around my full-time job. However, learning about policies and economies was interesting. The likelihood of me ever putting into practice what I’ve learnt is probably really low, but that’s okay.

What has been a challenge this semester is working full-time and doing these electives. I’ve been waking up at 5am every morning under the guise of ‘I’ll get a couple hours of study done before heading into the office’ and I mean that has happened but for the most part I would wake up and procrastinate. What ended up happening was the weekends becoming my time where I would work on assessments, and for the last couple months I’ve really felt consumed. This is a whole other blog post which I’ve been meaning to write, so keep an eye out for it, but I haven’t felt like I’ve had any guilt-free time.

I don’t know how to explain this properly, but a weird feeling is coming into uni for an hour in the evening, twice a week, then going home. Compared to previous semesters when I would be at uni for 3 hours for lectures and classes, sometimes 6 hours, then of course just spending time there studying. Even though I am still a student, and proud to be part of the MSD and UniMelb, I’ve felt like a visitor this semester. It might have to do with the culture that exists within architecture school about going hard or going home, that if you’re not spending every waking minute at uni on studio, then what are you doing! I don’t know, like I said, I can’t explain this feeling.

You know what though, this semester has not been all doom-and-gloom. One of the subjects I’ve been undertaking is called Inclusive Cities, and it’s been interesting to see how planners tackle problems, such as public/social housing, compared to architects. For my first studio in Masters I did a social housing project, and now I’m curious what it would have been like if there was crossover or collaboration with planning students. A lot of it has to do with policy and planning, architecture helps but a single building won’t save the world. The video above is something we made as a group for an assessment, obviously the voice-over isn’t me (or is it?!).

Anyway I don’t know how to end this post, I wanted to talk about what it was like studying planning subjects as an architecture student. However it derailed a bit and it’s been more about this semester as a whole. It’s weird, I have my final assessment due on Monday, it’s like a 1,000 word reflective piece of the subject, and then that’s it. A bit of me is excited for the freedom! I’m excited for the next chapter in my life! A part of me is sad I won’t be the carefree uni student anymore though. Actually I did think of doing another degree, I was thinking journalism, however looking at my student loans I might pass for now……

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