September 04, 2012

Welcome to the best (and worst) years of your life!


Last all-nighter of my first year!
And our studio prof dropped by in the middle of the night
with snacks and drinks
(I called her the 'Arch' Angel afterwards.)

I wanted to write a post to welcome those who are starting college in September as the labour day weekend means that time of the year (well at least in the North America). Some of you have graduated and are now experiencing the real world...as well as studio withdrawal symptoms. For alot of people, the start of the school year is today, and many will begin their education as architects.


Reminiscing

I remember going into my first day of school. I was ruminating with the first two friends I saw. I was anxious and worried. I was that high school graduate that heard all about the all-nighters after I had a tour of the architecture building a few months ago. My tour guide, who was graduating, told me about the intensities associated with architecture school. I was worried, a little bit scared. I did not know if I was going to make it. (more so later when I started to struggle...but I'm done!)

Now that I’m done and facing the real world with all the ups and downs of not being a student. I’d like to tell students to enjoy your years in architecture school. The workload will be intense, but bearable. The all-nighters might be scary, but can be managed or reduced if you know how to work.  You might not be able to see your friends outside of architecture as often, but you will make many friends in studio. You will have a learning experience that is different from other programs. We don’t just have the regular lecture hall learning environment; we have the joys of the design studio, which is a second home to students.


The Joys of Studio



Despite the fame this blog has gone through discussing some darker issues on studio, other aspects of studio culture is tonnes of fun. Architecture school builds a tight knit community of design students in studio. There will be numerous coffee runs with friends, a random flash mob occurring at 4am in the morning as your peers are hallucinating from lack of sleep, video game sessions, music blasting out, passing the football in the atrium. Also, there’s the learning involved – we get to learn from our peers and each other, you can bounce ideas to and fro with a friend.





The Workload of Architecture School: Trial by Fire
Architecture school and universities will do that. There will be moments of trials and tests to push you to grow, the improve, and get better. Some lesson’s can’t be taught from a lecture hall or a studio. Sometimes, these are lessons from within. However, there is hope, there is hope to succeed and learn and gain from the experience.      

I remember my architecture history teaching assistant mentioning to me that architecture makes you a stronger person and makes you a strong character, which I greatly agree. You will be tested physically, mentally and emotionally. I'm not gonna lie, but sometimes I'd like to joke with my friends and say that architecture school is literally a degree earned with blood sweat and tears.

Most of you will be finishing in four or five years. However, there might be some that will fall behind like me. I fell behind by two years...dropping courses in third year, and failing my third year studio afterwards. Failure made me patient and persistent. It gave me some bitter lessons in life to learn about myself and what I needed to do. It made me serious about the work I do. It taught me deeper personal issues that I had to deal with, and I did so by seeking out help that I needed.

Get Ready, Get Set, It's gonna be a bumpy (and fun) Ride!

If there is a greater lesson to be learned from my years of architecture school, be open to the challenges and do not avoid them. Be open to the lessons that your university degree will put you through. Be open to the experiences and the friendshops, the late nights, and workload.


If there is anything that I wish I knew when I was a freshmen (and for some of these I still struggle with), it would be: 

- To be open to the experience. 
- More visual representation and graphic design - don't do excessive writing
- Do not be afraid of the workload and don't avoid doing it.
- Stick to your particular friends in studio (don't jump all around).
- Don't be the slacker of the group! Be a team player!
- When in a conflict with someone in a group project, talk to them don't avoid. Be professional though.
- Don't be (too) perfectionist, be willing to explore your design in multiple ways and make mistakes, that's the only way you'll learn and get better and expand your skillset.
- Be compassionate when you make mistakes or fail.
- Drill deep into your design projects (sketch, model, draw, draft) 
- Teach yourself the software 
- If you have priorities outside of architecture school, you can't just leave architecture school work to luck. You have to be disciplined to make up for lost time.
- Ask for help.


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Related Posts:
Mental Health Awareness for Architecture Students
You've Been Accepted to Architecture School and Amped Up!
Studio Culture...on a Friday Night.



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