Monday, 16 May 2005

Study a Little, Live a Lot

(FOREWORD: This post came about after reading a post about someone who would rather stay home and study for an Add Math exam instead of going for the Star Wars premiere... No offence meant, dude, but that's a damn shame... :P... BTW, if you're reading this, do give me your blog link again. I forgot where it is oledi... :)

All my life, I've never been a very good student.

I didn't matter whether I was learning Add mat's, or the piano, or another language, or even how to drive; I just wasn't a very good student.

Oh, I could LEARN well enough, but as a STUDENT, I would frustrate the heck out of my teachers, coaches, trainers and parents, mostly because I REFUSED to study.

In primary school, I used to drive my parents nuts because I would NEVER do my homework. Come to think of it, that was probably the smartest thing I ever thought of (and TRIED to do) while I was in primary school, since all that homework usually consisted of writing the same Chinese characters over and over again a few hundred times. Pretty stupid, if you ask me.

But anyway, as a result of the extremity of my homework-neglecting habits, my teachers and parents actually had to come up with a recording system that MADE SURE I did my homework everyday. They recorded all my homework for that day in an exercise book, which I had to show my parents when I got home, and then after finishing the homework, I had to bring that book to my teacher to mark, just to be sure that I HAD finished my homework.

Pretty stupid, come to think of it. I was pretty embarrassed about it, and that was enough to get me doing my homework regularly again. Funny thing was, some of the more hard-working (or dare I say, DELUDED) classmates of mine thought that was a BRILLIANT idea, and began coming up with similar 'record books' of their own and giving it to the teacher to sign everyday as well.

I thought that was the funniest thing ever.

Anyway, like I said, I never did like being a student. I didn't do TOO badly in my UPSR, and my PMR (on hindsight, if I'd actually STUDIED for those exams, I'd have done better), but it never really bothered me how many A's I got, as long as I passed the damn exams.

When I got to SPM level, I began to study a little more, but that was mostly because I was away from school half the time attending my sports events. So I had to resort to tuition (because I SUCKED at Add mat's) and waking up in the wee hours of the morning to study.

However, even then, it didn't really occur to me that I should be trying to get as many A's as possible. Sure, I WANTED more A's, but somehow, I didn't really think it was worth sacrificing my sports or my other 'funner' activities just so I could get a few more A's.

An example of how lightly I took the SPM: When it came to selecting our subjects, I was caught between choosing Economics (which sounded boring) and Chinese (which I hadn't studied for four years).

I chose Chinese not because I was better at it, but because the temporary teacher who taught Form Five Chinese was cute.

In the end, I managed to pass most of the subjects, and ended up with an aggregate of twelve, which wasn't too shabby at the time. Sure, I got two P7s (one was Chinese, the other was Biology, which I'd actually expected to fail because I came out early from the exam hall), but at least I passed all my subjects.

Then, when it came to university, I was again, a lousy student.

I spent almost SIX YEARS in UPM, one of which was spent in a Diploma Computer Science course which I did fairly well in, just because I wanted the direct promotion to a degree course.

When I got to the Degree course for Computer Science, I found that I really didn't like that subject much. Of course, I only realized that two years into the course (and after failing 30% of the subjects I took). I decided to do something rather unorthodox at the time.

Deciding that I preferred writing and communications to bloody Computer Science, I decided to screw it all for a lark, take the bare necessities to PASS the Computer Science Degree course, and take as many elective subjects on English and Communications as I could.

I also decided to be more active in extra-curricular activities, mostly AIESEC, just for the heck of it, and because it was more fun than studying all the time. Heck, I went out for supper every night, spending more time at the mamak stalls around Serdang than I did studying.

Update (4:57pm): Just remembered another thing I did in uni - it was the World Cup finals in 1998, I had an exam at 8am. England were playing Argentina at 3am. I studied the whole night until 3am, watched the game until 5am, studied somemore, and went straight for the exam at 8am. Crazy football fans. At least England won.

In the end, I like to think that I came out of uni a better person not because of what I'd learned (most of which I don't even REMEMBER now), but because I spent more time interacting with people and learning other skills besides that on the books. And I had more fun too.

I never could understand how people spend their entire time in university just slogging over books. It seems like a big waste of time to me. Sure, the Malaysian education system DOES entail that, but when it comes down to it, the degree is just a piece of paper.

Somehow, I never saw the point of the whole paper chase thing. I always thought doing what you liked was the most important thing in life. Your parents (who paid for you education) may not have liked the fact that you spent three-quarters of your time in uni having roti tissue with Nescafe Tarik Besar 'Kau', plus it may not have been the smartest thing to do, but at least you LIKED doing it.

To all those students who think that getting A's and getting onto the Dean's List is all that matters, well, good on you. But remember to live a little. Have fun at the same time. GO for Star Wars premieres. Life is a lot more than just a bunch of exam papers and a piece of laminated paper signed by a College Chancellor.

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