Geeky Stuff Life Opinion

University Edu-ma-cation

I spent a lot of time in university. A good 6 years to be exact. I took classes in almost every subject, partly because I was interested in so many things, but mostly because I was distracted by figure skating and continually moving all over Canada in search of a ice dance partner who didn’t require serious emotional counseling.

In those 6 years I took 52 classes. 52 classes in linguistics, journalism, writing, philosophy, psychology, neuropsych, physiology, anatomy, acoustics, English lit & grammar, Spanish, Russian, history, art history, music, film studies, and drama. I know! That’s a whole lotta knowledge I’ve crammed into my short term memory. How much actually made it into my long term memory remains to be seen.

Now, obviously I think learning stuff is cool and fun or I wouldn’t have spent so many years doing just that… or maybe I just stayed so long because of the free medical/dental plans, scholarship money, and lack of adult responsibilities…

Every now and again when I hear students whine about super hard final exams, endless assignments, and less than adequate beer at Pub night, I think to myself, “What did I actually learn in university?” Here, I explore this topic in moderate detail.

Things I learnt in university:

  1. The formant values of the Swedish vowel “ö”, the Russian vowel “ы”, and the Canadian vowel “aboot”;
  2. The inner turmoil of Ivan the terrible
  3. 20th Century European History (in general) AKA war sucks;
  4. How to review a really long & boring English Lit book by skimming, plagiarizing & half watching the movie whilst watching a super cool action flick in your peripheral vision;
  5. Philosophy & the Matrix (in general);
  6. The twisted and shady side of chiaroscuro;
  7. Modern poetry doesn’t NEED to rhyme;
  8. MS Word & Excel is the devil’s handywork;
  9. Psychology (in general);
  10. Why Tolstoy was such a giant stick in the mud;
  11. Nazis and Soviets were all over that propaganda shizz;
  12. It’s best to stay far away from the snacks on the Battleship Potemkin;
  13. The anatomy and physiology of the ear & mouth/throat area (in ridiculous detail);
  14. Infant screams/cries are less than soothing to acoustically analyze than say, Enya;
  15. Don’t sit next to the guy that sucks on pens causing them to explode over everything within a 5m radius;
  16. You really have to commit yourself to produce a good Patronus charm;
  17. It’s inevitable that you will get your worst mark in the class you took because you thought it would be super easy;
  18. Tutoring ESL is a great way to meet cute foreign exchange students;
  19. There are better ways to spend your time than failing to teach a monkey/chimp/gorilla language
  20. Pavlov was a jerk to his dog

Things I didn’t learn in University:

  1. How long it takes to boil an egg;
  2. How to earn money (in general);
  3. Anything about taxes;
  4. Tener una conversación inteligente en español es más complicado que ordenar tacos en un restaurante mexicano;
  5. How to fix a broken toilet or plumbing (in general);
  6. How to navigate around Home Depot;
  7. “Food-in-cupboard” maintenance;
  8. How to negotiate with cell phone carriers;
  9. Stuff about fixing cars or fallen off mufflers;
  10. The complexity of screwdriver heads;
  11. Where the missing socks go and who steals them;
  12. Cooking food that tastes good (in general);
  13. How to deal with over demanding, ambiguous, & clueless clients
  14. Exactly where the maple syrup comes from. Trees? The ocean? Bee hives? Mounties? Beavers?
  15. Anything about grout;
  16. How to fix broken electronics;
  17. Getting out stains produced by dark beverages, spaghetti sauce, and ink/jiffies/markers, on more often than not, white clothing;
  18. Where all the money goes and who steals it;
  19. Credit card debt. I swear, no one told me!!
  20. Computers, using software, coding, photography, video production, editing, design… basically everything I need to know. Oops.

What did you learn or not learn in university? Also, if you know the practical solution to any of the above please leave a comment. Teach me and I’ll listen… mostly.

PS. Why am I sat in front of an uber kit? Kind of random isn’t it? More sweet photos and a special DIY photo blog from my latest shoot with uber Vancouver drummer, Jesse Godin this week!

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  • Reply
    Duane Storey
    May 11, 2008 at 6:47 PM

    I did, count ’em, eight years of post-secondary education. The sad thing is, I graduated with my master’s in electrical engineering having never designed an electrical component. In fact, I really doubt I’d be able to. But man, can I drink!

    Despite having a scholarship, I still racked up about $40g worth of student loans, and I imagine I’ll be paying those off for another few years. Oh, that guy sucking on pens might have been me — I’m terrible for that.

  • Reply
    May 11, 2008 at 6:47 PM

    I’m still in it, but what I’ve learned on my co-op term was ‘Look busy, do nothing’. Regarding IT ofcourse. lol

  • Reply
    May 11, 2008 at 7:04 PM

    Hmm… I know nothing that you do and everything that you don’t. But then, I didn’t pay attention in post-secondary.

    I remember taking two math classes that, try as I might, I did not understand one iota (FAIL x 2), sleeping at one of those public desks that post-secondary institutions provide because I couldn’t make it back to the dorm, and failing a course that is essentially Art 101 which effectively blew any hope of completing the two-year program of which that course was part.

    And @Shanejonas’s advice sounds like something that should be heeded.

  • Reply
    May 11, 2008 at 7:32 PM

    All of my english lit is sort of diluted or ‘enhanced’ whichever way you look at it by the insane amount of time SPEED was playing in the AQ…like all the time.

    I can’t think about Shelley or Wordsworth without thinking about it in terms of Speed.

  • Reply
    May 11, 2008 at 7:53 PM

    “The formant values of the Swedish vowel “ö”, the Russian vowel “ы”, and the Canadian vowel “aboot”;”

    I lol’d.

  • Reply
    May 11, 2008 at 8:10 PM

    Recent conversation with current English Professor:

    Prof: “Examining anything other than the personalities and dynamics of character’s social relationships should not be done for literary works.”

    Me: “So Animal Farm was just about a bunch of animals that talked and did stuff like people?”

    Prof: “Yes. If you read Orwell you would understand that.”

  • Reply
    May 11, 2008 at 8:14 PM

    English lit in Canada should be called Margaret Atwood’s greatest hits.

    All electives will generally be useless and boring.

    But most of all, what I learned in school was the phrase “Think Outside The Box” Muttered by almost every teacher, that I had.

    But of course when you do, they tell you what you did was wrong and that you need to learn how to follow orders. When you follow there instructions, they ask you why your not more creative.

    So I guess the only thing I truly learned was how to have your soul crushed by those in charge!

  • Reply
    May 11, 2008 at 8:43 PM

    what I learned so far: no matter how difficult is the test, that really does not serve to work..

    I have not learned: how to submit a project site in a faculty of social communication..

    and my dad goes on to say, “you just have to finish college..”

  • Reply
    May 11, 2008 at 9:49 PM

    Numero cuatro es incorrecto, porque “conversacion” es femenino entonces tienes que escribir “una’ no “un”. Right?

  • Reply
    May 11, 2008 at 10:55 PM

    @ Diego — Nope. It’s not incorrect. The fact that you’re having the conversation is what’s harder. The conversation is femenino, which she wrote properly (“una conversación”). El hecho de tener una conversación es lo que es más complicado. La gramática de la fraser de Lisa está perfectamente correcta.

    @ Lisa – Ask me on Friday morning and I’ll tell you. But right now, all I know is I got to FOCUS :)

  • Reply
    May 11, 2008 at 11:09 PM

    @ Raul- yeah… when lisa first posted the list, she had written “un conversacion” I caught her grammatical error so I let her know, and she fixed it.

  • Reply
    Chris Vincent
    May 11, 2008 at 11:20 PM

    Grout? heall nope…. that stuffs for the tradies :D (and yet as computerised as i am i still know how to use it??? huh???)

  • Reply
    Nate Whitehill
    May 11, 2008 at 11:59 PM

    LOL! This post was great. You do know that maple syrup comes from Beavers, right? Number 20 is right on for me too!

  • Reply
    May 12, 2008 at 12:28 AM

    I’m currently in my 4th year of post-secondary education, studying computer graphics from the beginning. I’ve learned quite a lot of things about 2D & 3D graphics, with a big emphasis on videogames assets creation, trying to make my children dreams come true.

    Some things i’ve learned :
    01 – The teacher is ALWAYS right.
    02 – I hate (and suck at) print graphics.
    03 – Red rickshaw-dragons ARE creative.
    04 – Working on something you like doesn’t mean the work is fun, but it’s still better.
    05 – You never ctrl+s enough.
    06 – Autobak is my best friend ever for life.(directly derived from #05)
    07 – I’m really good at annoying people if i want to. Yup. Definitely.
    08 – There will always be someone more talented than you are, so keep humble.
    09 – A good idea badly executed will never be as appreciated as a bad idea well done.
    10 – What i love more than learning things is to teach them to others and solve their problems.

  • Reply
    May 12, 2008 at 4:26 AM

    I understood the Spanish sentence without learning any Spanish. I only learned French at school. Can you say this to someone who wants to sell you some really bad tacos?

  • Reply
    May 12, 2008 at 7:50 AM

    4 years:
    english, music, media studies (on the receipt/diploma)
    i don’t know what’s going on here.
    my design isn’t good, everything is so big and confusing.

    i think you’re one of those people prone to the meta-twitching of modernity.
    (you mention the things you use to make the things you’ve got here (cameras/softwear)).

    will you make a meta-section? that is, a “how i done what i done” area? there are so many places to go to try to understand rss feeds and flikr and twittr and othr things without e’s.
    i just feel very overwhelmed today and i’m getting it out by asking for help in a public place?
    is this place public?

    –the above is an example of trying to do to much in a comment, a poor plunge into the internet, meta makes it betta (beta?)–

  • Reply
    Jeremy Davis
    May 12, 2008 at 10:17 AM

    I’m totally onboard if you want to organize a Home Depot 101 class. I just stand in the center of the place and do slow 360 turns before I head off in the wrong direction. All while the orange-aproned people just stare and snicker.

  • Reply
    May 12, 2008 at 2:36 PM

    I’m currently on my 6th year at SFU- thank you for making me feel less nerdly about that.

  • Reply
    Mark Wilson
    May 12, 2008 at 3:09 PM

    Is it wrong that I fell apart at #16 and again at #20 of what you have learned?

  • Reply
    May 12, 2008 at 10:36 PM

    Lisa, do you regret not learning the things you didn’t learnt, or do you think this fits within the natural course of life?
    Maybe it’s time for this generation to ask: what is college? If college is friends, why not just form an ulterior org and hang out for a few years learning things together? (only semi-serious)

  • Reply
    May 13, 2008 at 5:14 AM

    Decia Napoleon Bonaparte que el espanol es el lenguaje de los dioses. Learning spanish will be hard, but believe me, there is nothing more pleaseful that a few good spanish words :)

    I so love your blog! Regards from Costa Rica!

  • Reply
    Tuesday Link Love - High Pressure Edition « Random Thoughts of a Student of the Environment
    May 13, 2008 at 8:32 AM

    […] Mostly Lisa asks her readers about the value of university education. I am not ready to answer that question yet, but I’ve been amused by some of her […]

  • Reply
    May 13, 2008 at 1:06 PM

    Learned in University:
    – That Wagner wasn’t really a Nazi, and that the Gershwin grandkids are money-hungry snots
    – (After studying his complete contributions to literature) That Chinua Achebe wasn’t too keen on the British or colonization
    – That pronouncing “cot” and “caught” exactly the same way pinpoints me as a Chicagoan.
    – That 45% of the people on my floor my freshman year said ‘soda,’ 38% said ‘pop,’ and the rest call all carbonated, sugary beverages ‘coke.’
    – That no one ever notices if you decrease each of your left & right margins by .2 of an inch, but it can make the difference between a 14.5-page paper and a 15-page paper that meets graduation portfolio requirements

    Didn’t Learn in University, but learned during the time when I was in university from other sources:
    – How to write a good article
    – How to take a good action picture
    – How to be two people at once

    Funny, the second skill set is what has been most beneficial for professional, career-related experiences thus far. ;-)

  • Reply
    May 13, 2008 at 2:32 PM

    “- That no one ever notices if you decrease each of your left & right margins by .2 of an inch, but it can make the difference between a 14.5-page paper and a 15-page paper that meets graduation portfolio requirements”
    -I TOTALLY forgot that hours spent fiddling with margins instead of just writing a better LONGER essay.

  • Reply
    May 13, 2008 at 5:30 PM

    Still at uni…

    Stuff I’ve learnt includes, no one enjoys a PhD (at least not a biology one); gotta keep building new relationships to make up for the old ones that drift away; Neitzsche has a lot to answer for, so does Darwin; most people don’t know what molecular biology is, yet they still ask what my thesis is about; graphic and web design is more fun than science.

    Stuff you didn’t learn: it takes 3 minutes (or slightly longer) to soft boil an egg (cooked whites, runny yolk), but the key is that the egg needs to be room temp or warmer and then straight into the boiling water – if you put a cold egg in boiling water the shell cracks, if you put it in warm water and heat it up you don’t know how long it’s really been cooking for. Credit cards: avoid having one, then when you get one don’t spend more than the money that you actually have or know you’ll get in the next couple of days, they should be for convenience, not necessity; also – interest free period.

    Great post. Loved it :)

  • Reply
    May 13, 2008 at 10:37 PM

    Never went to university… That’s why i’m great in boiling an egg i guess. Cook them for 9 minutes mostly (don’t like the running yellow stuff). Still, i do have regrets sometimes about not attending university. But that’s more regrets about the fun that i’ve missed out on than on the stuff i would have learned there. Guess i’m more of the “practical” kind. Or just lazy… Well, that ain’t true either, cause learning stuff is cool. But it has to be stuff that you’re personally interested in. For me that is. Since i never attended university i cannot say anything about that, but i do remember from the schools i did attend, that i spend most of my time drawing and listen to my walkman with one ear then paying attention to the teacher. So i actually learned how to draw action figures and listen music while i’m at it. Ain’t that a skill?

  • Reply
    May 14, 2008 at 5:54 PM

    @robin I thought it was eight minutes. That’s how I’ve been doing it all along.

  • Reply
    May 14, 2008 at 10:16 PM

    @chris that’s what i used to think for ages too, but after experimenting with my timer it appears that 9 minutes does the job for me.

  • Reply
    Dennis Bjørn Petersen
    May 14, 2008 at 11:07 PM

    University taught me not to befriend the girl you love. If that should happen, then don’t be in a relationship with THE one’s friend instead for 6 years… ;)

    Of course, that never happened to me, but to my friend’s brother’s cousin’ uncle…

  • Reply
    susan from flueless fireplaces ltd
    May 16, 2008 at 11:12 AM

    Hehe :-D I laughed a lot on your post :-) I am at university too and I know that at the end I will be more prepared for life thanks to similar things what you learned on the university :-)
    But here, we cant choose our classes… To be exact, we can choose the type or PE (PE on university???!!!) and than we could chose from some social classes. I chose psychology and sociology… Half of the psychology was horribly boring, but sociology was better. We should discus there, but only I discussed with him :-) and maybe few other persons… But these were only two from about 30…

  • Reply
    In The Sphere: The Rule of Thirds |
    May 16, 2008 at 11:42 AM

    […] Bettany of Mostly Lisa spent a solid six years in university and she shares what she learned in school (and what she didn’t). It truly is interesting to see what makes it into the […]

  • Reply
    June 2, 2008 at 5:42 PM

    A mi tampoco me ensenaron nada acerca de las deudas de las tarjetas de crédito en la uni! Hablas bien el español o sabes usar muy bien el traductor de Google? Jajaja, saludos! Pasa por el blog y déjanos un comentario cuando puedas! Bye!

  • Reply
    June 2, 2008 at 5:43 PM

    I misspelled the blog address, now it’s right ; )

  • Reply
    Orange County Photography
    November 11, 2009 at 8:00 PM

    re. Learnt item #4 Hey, don’t you know that kind of multitasking gives you dementia later in life?

  • Reply
    February 1, 2010 at 6:01 PM

    Seeing these kind of posts reminds me of just how technology truly is ever-present in this day and age, and I am fairly certain that we have passed the point of no return in our relationship with technology.

    I don’t mean this in a bad way, of course! Societal concerns aside… I just hope that as memory becomes less expensive, the possibility of copying our memories onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It’s a fantasy that I daydream about almost every day.

    (Posted on Nintendo DS running R4i DS qqPost)

  • Reply
    Golda Lagoo
    February 1, 2010 at 7:12 PM

    Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.

  • Reply
    Reducir Cintura
    June 13, 2010 at 5:27 PM

    Muy buen artículo. Gracias!

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