[CN: Domestic violence mention]
For a long time, I resisted the idea of going to uni, especially in year 12. I think this was because I saw myself always fulfilling expected roles: being academically high-achieving, being good in the kitchen, being “overachieving” in general (except at driving 😥 ). Basically, I felt like I was filling the mold of the stereotypical Asian and the stereotypical woman, and while these attributes are positive and make my life much easier than many, it still caused some frustration.
I didn’t like how people would always ask me, “What are you going to study at uni?”, like it was a matter of time rather than choice. (I acknowledge my privilege here, as I never had to think about not being able to pursue higher education). While on holiday with the intention of deferring, I was offered a scholarship and accepted it, on the condition that I start uni in semester 1, 2016 – classes started the day after I got back.
Long story short: my bad first day was the start to an even worse week, but, it eventually started to get better a few weeks in.
My journalism courses allowed me to do research on subjects I was interested in: politics, feminism, social justice, sustainability, veganism, art, and more. I was required to start a blog (hello), to build my online presence by posting my writing. Writing about my exhibition made me reflect a lot. Though I claimed to be a feminist for a long time, I had never really expressed or explained my opinion through writing, or speaking for that matter. So I decided to extend the use of my blog to a space for me to process, sort and share the ideas that float around in my mind. I revived my Facebook page and started following a lot more feminist bloggers and news sites, exposing myself to more opinions to practice thinking critically and autonomously (as possible).
Liking things on Facebook helped me find a lot of uni groups that I hadn’t known about as a consequence of me missing O Week. I joined the Women’s Collective and other societies I found interesting. I went to events that celebrated women and their achievements, their journey to self-care and love. I made friends with some of the most open-minded people. I feel like uni has fostered my expression of opinion and ideas, has helped me find really great people.
Having the safety net of financial security, I can do a lot of things other than try to make ends meet. I now volunteer for Brisbane Period Project, a group that collects and distributes donations of pads and tampons to homeless women and trans men, most of them escaping domestic violence. I volunteer for a community radio show, Only Human, which talks about mental health, psychology and social issues. I went on QUT’s Mid-Year Big Lift trip, a week of needs-based volunteering in regional Queensland, doing projects and lots of service-learning. I feel like I’m engaging more and more with my interests and developing my character. Being at uni taught me a lot, not only about the law, and the media industry, but also about myself and the issues I care about. I’m also finding that the list of things I care about is continuously growing. My inclination to academia or my grasp on life-skills doesn’t really frustrate me anymore as I know I am growing towards a better version of myself. Although I know my idea of a “better self” will change, I am happy with the progress I’ve made over the past six months.