Now that I am flying off on Saturday, I suddenly have just a small window of free time to actually write about what happened with regards to doing a language at UC. Most people I talk to regularly already know what’s been going on, so this is more of a… “diary” of sorts.
I went into UC because I wanted to do a nursing degree. However, I have also wanted to do Japanese for the last couple of years now, in an “official” sort of setting. I am not sure how to describe to you how my mind works, but let’s just say private lessons don’t work out well for me. I need a proper “institution setting”, so to speak. So, when I got into UC for nursing, I decided to do Japanese as well.
However, I don’t actually have a death wish. I had some RPL which meant that most of my degree is part time (due to structuring), which, in turn, meant that I already fulfilled some credits of my degree. The degree itself had no free credit space for me to turn around in, but physically speaking, I had “spare time”. So, I added Japanese into my cart and figured that if no one picked on it, then I should be fine. I am over the “limits” of credits, I didn’t think it had be much of an issue though.
When UC killed their language department, UC came to a joint agreement with ANU without really consulting anyone. Furthermore, the entire agreement was so rushed, the winter semester was literally in about week 3 – with the Japanese language course running. At that time, I was even telling a friend, nah, I don’t think they will push us to go right now. Probably at the start of next year. I was so complacent in that thought that I figured I might drop Japanese officially next year, and just go back to self studying.
I also had a few dilemmas, starting with “should I bother”. I know next year nursing will be busy. ANU covers about 9 hours worth of contact time in a week for Japanese. somewhere in semester 2 next year, I will be carrying a full load for nursing, while Japanese in ANU is 2 subjects worth – totalling to a 6 subject semester. There’s a fine line between challenging yourself and over-stretching/reaching, and I felt I would toe that line if I come to that. I don’t want to just manage my courses. I want to do well.
However, before I could relax, UC officially closed the language courses and there was a flurry of emails left and right that we have to sign up for placement tests if we intend to continue our various language courses. All told, according to the media, there’s 300 of us displaced students stretched across 3 language courses and we are competing for places in another university that already has quite a number of students in their own language courses. Despite my dilemma, I decided to give the placement test a shot anyway, partly from not wanting to let go of Japanese (it was my “fun” course outside of nursing), partly from wondering where I stand academically speaking.
It was here that my dramas with uni began. Firstly, they decided to do this when ANU was about to start their semester 2 in less than 2 weeks. So all the departments were damn busy. Our paperworks sometimes didn’t go through, or it went through and nobody knew who did what with it. Some students were not notified on whether their placement tests were booked in, while others were told to just turn up. It was an administrative nightmare to which I, still calm and collected, called on the Friday before the test (which was Monday) to see where I would be going to for my placement test.
They weren’t sure what happened to my paperwork, offered to call back in 10 mins. And when they did, they suddenly discovered I am a nursing student. This is after me sending through some paperwork that openly said I am a nursing student. They tried to dissuade me from studying Japanese any further, because I am over my credit limit, at which point I pointed out that I had been over it since the moment I started this Japanese course.
The woman on the phone cajoled and harangued me. and eventually, in an exasperated tone, she told me “But you could be stealing away a HECs position from another student!!!!”
“but, I am not on HECs, I am paying my own fees!” I was completely blindsided by her comment, hurt and stumped. When I was an international student, they milked the fuck out of me. Even though I am a domestic student now, I am still paying upfront while other students are contributing to the billion dollars worth of HECs debt that is unlikely to be recovered.
She stopped haranguing me as much thereafter, just the whole “I am tired of this shit” tone of finality. I was told to go for the placement test anyway and then see what happened. They had already informed my nursing convenor (the arts convenor knew this and approved of me going ahead to go for the placement test anyway, but it turns out she has no authority over this according to the phone call), and was waiting for her approval. However, nursing convenor won’t be in till tuesday – wednesday at that time.
By this time, I was partly hoping I had fail the placement test so at least I can blame it on my stupidity. Still, I studied for the placement test a little. The structure of the placement test was that each test covered each YEAR’s worth of work, so if I get about 40-50% I am pretty much good for the semester I had studied. If I pass the whole thing (about 80%?), then I am beyond the scope of that. I know I won’t get 80%, but how would I fare?
I passed it. And was told by my convenor, no, you can’t go do Japanese. Go study a few more semesters, and I will reconsider.
Friday, i felt like crying. Monday, I was terribly happy. Tuesday, I was in tears again. Wednesday, despite how I felt initially (down and shit), I emailed all around the department and called up ANU administration – about late admission into their diploma of languages program, and was given plenty of happiness and hope in mankind when their collective kindness allowed me to apply for a diploma in languages late! Until I saw the forms and it required UC to give me permission.
However, since this was a rush rush thing, it was closed to end of business day. I asked if I could just hand it in with a scan of my Uni ID as a proof that I am a uni student instead of permission, the person in ANU admin said sure, no probs.
And then, I was told late the next day (their office closes at 3pm) that I need approval. Popped down to UC to ask for an approval – and then was told no.
Despite the fact that a Diploma meant that I am paying for everything, AGAIN, (since they were offering displaced students some compensation in the form of bus fares and free textbooks) and I am on my own merit as a student in ANU, they won’t let me do it since my convenor already said now.
At which point, stressed, without sleep for about 32 hours by then, I flipped. I stopped being nice and started yelling at them. The new assistant manage decided to call for permissions – but she was on her own as no one would pick up their phones. As such, on her own decision, she gave me the permissions.
If I wasn’t bipolar before this, I was starting to feel like I am about to become one.
There were a few other red tapes that I had to go through before being officially a student that is enrolled in Japanese – but that’s the end of my ordeal for now and I hope never to go through that again.
I must admit that, despite feeling like I shouldn’t pursue this before, each step of the way there was a helping hand, an encouraging word, a collective of kindness that made me want to continue to pursue this. To just do this. By the end of it, I was not only finding ways around it to LEARN japanese, I was actively pushing it.
It is now pretty much end of week 5. I have been an ANU Japanese language student for 5 weeks, while still being a Nursing student (week 2). My sleep debt has accumulated beyond recognition; I have never felt more useless and retarded some days in my Japanese class; there were many moments, due to exhaustion, i wondered how to say something in Japanese to the next person I see (e.g. the bus driver) out of sheer paranoia that they might not be able to understand my broken japanese; I have fallen asleep standing up while at work (read: falling on to your knees hurt) because i was studying for about 8 hours of the 10 hours shift.
I have also never been happier, academically speaking, to be where I am right now.
There will come days, yet again, when I feel like giving up, feel like shit academically and just don’t want to see another textbook. However, this feeling of being able to empower myself, no one is ever going to take that away from me.