The most important thing I’ve learned as a first-year undergraduate student is the importance of choice. I say this because in the past year I have been at university and the years before that I spent applying for university – in those years, I have had to make life-changing decisions. Maybe you don’t agree with me, but what happened in the past few years and what is going to happen in the years to come can make or break my life. Where I go would decide the people I meet, the people I surround myself with and learn from. Whilst what I study would ultimately decide what I can achieve and do in life. These are the decisions I had to make, and most of you applying for the university would have to make it too.
Regardless of what people want you to do, at the end of the day, it is you who makes the decision because you are the one that has to live with it. I’m not saying that you should not take their thoughts into consideration, but you should not let anyone choose where you should apply and what you should take at university – this includes university rankings. University rankings are basically a collective opinion of which university is the best, but what it doesn’t say is which university is the best for you. It will tell you what others think about the work, the teachers, their overall satisfaction or even which university is best for your subject – but what it wouldn’t tell you are how easy transport is to go around, if the people are nice or if you would personally enjoy the next few years there.
If I were to listen to others, I would not be at King’s College London studying Digital Culture. Most of you would probably question why I would take the subject. The word culture implies such a sociological approach that it seems not “hard” enough in comparison to what many Indonesians think is best to take (i.e. medicine, law, traditional sciences, politics, economics, etc.). That, plus the lack of understanding of what the digital part entails makes my course a big no-no. Not to mention the fact that people seem to assume London is “party central”. I was asked many questions in regards to why I took the subject, or “why London?”. People have told me it sounds useless, and I would simply rebuke them with this: “This decision is one I made myself. I took the time to research what my course is about. Digital Culture is basically the study of the past, present and the future – the impacts of digital technology in different aspects of life. When everything today involves digital technology one way or another, why wouldn’t you study it? The only university that provided it was King’s, and I couldn’t be happier. A city girl like me thrives in the city.”
You see, when I said it is important for you to be the one who makes the decision, it does not mean you just randomly choose and hope for the best. It is about preparing to make the choice, and using the resources that you are provided with to do so. Look into the courses places you want to go offer – it is about finding the course for you, not what you already know is there and is “acceptable” to take in society’s standards. Look into the location you’re going to live in. Do you prefer a city campus or a college campus? It is also your decision in how you are going to take advantage of the opportunity. Once you are there, there are more decisions to make. Are you going to focus just on your social life? or just study? or find a balance between both? Who are you going to hang out with? What are you going spend your money on? Where are you going to live? Why? These decisions are what you have to think of. It’s more than just where and what. It’s where, what and why – why you picked your course; why you chose that university; why you choose to live a certain way. Emphasising the importance of it being your choice.
Photo credit: Author’s collections
edited by Deandra Madeena Moerdaning