Does everybody really need a uni degree?

When I think about it, I don’t know a single person who doesn’t have a uni degree or – when they don’t – they’re on their way to get it. And I don’t mean only close friends but literally everyone around me.

From what I know of the situation in higher education in the 80s and 90s, the conditions were – compared to present – like oil and water, heaven and hell, simply – very different. The society seemed to consist then of the so-called “academic types”, who went to university, and the “manually skilled types”, who didn’t need a further education because they reached a sufficient level of expertise needed for whatever profession or craft they were interested in, OR they didn’t want to go to uni because they wanted/needed to work and earn money asap, OR simply because they weren’t these “academic types”.

As I see it, in the 21st century everybody appears to be an academic type. Does that mean our generation is generally more intelligent? NO. But is this generation more urged to study? YES. And is studying now easier than it ever was? YES.

I am sure this is caused by many other factors, but I think the following three are crucial (please note: I’m from Eastern European country so this may only be relevant to this area, though I studied abroad so my point of view may be influenced by both):

  1. The educational system is rotten: In many cases, if you are able to pay tuition means you can have a degree. (This of course doesn’t apply to all fields of study – let’s say medicine, engineering or in fact anything technical needs a skill and a talent, money is just not enough). But there really are many study programmes specifically designed for people who simply want to have a degree but have no particular talent in anything. These are usually programmes where no one really knows why it needs to be studied. Also, there are often way too many people in a year, the reason of course being money: more students, more money for school. That’s why getting in is oh so easy too – the uni literally wants you there, why would they hinder your right to education? But do we really need that many political scientists, archaeologists, sociologists, social workers, managers, english teachers, historians? No, we don’t and that’s why they usually end up unemployed – or in a job very distant from what they were studying.
  2. The other reason might be that young people often think highly of themselves – inappropriately higher than necessary. Any person with an average intelligence is often convinced by parents or friends he or she is smart and therefore needs to go to uni. This correlates with the first point too: they got in which only confirms they deserve to be there. Let’s face it: one third of them actually don’t. This is also a result of this era: internet is full of information so everyone naturally feels more intelligent than he or she actually is because we have access to all the knowledge of the world – if we want it. Plus we are fed the motivational stuff like “nothing is impossible”, “you can do it just reach out and grab it”, “follow your dreams” and blah blah. There are tons of study programmes that you don’t need to be particularly gifted to pass and if you are merely able to cram for the exam or use any other means to pass it – the degree is yours. This, however, to a great extent diminishes the prestige of higher education.
  3. The third factor is that people simply don’t know what they want to be, the only thing they know is that they want to be rich. This correlates with the second point because the belief they are smart and intelligent combined with all the motivational stuff they read on the internet such as “you can be whatever you want to be” gives them a false feeling they really can become anything – which often results in them becoming nothing. Nowadays, a commonly accepted truth is that you need a degree to earn well. Many youngsters believe that, they start studying something they don’t really like, then they graduate and expect mucho dinero straight away. It doesn’t work that way.

Plus, let’s face it, many teenagers see one of the greatest advantages of studying in prolonging their youth. University is a great chance to put off the adult life for three to five beautiful years. And also, it gives you a nice bit of time to think what it is you actually want to do.

The system that is no longer about education but mostly about business and the false belief that university is the only way to secure a good future together only result in increased unemployment rate and overqualification of employees.

This reminds me of a joke: what sentence do the social sciences graduates hear most often? – “I’ll have double fries and a diet coke, please.”

Here’s to a brighter future! 🙂

Weirdos, freaks & where to find them

Gretchen: You’re weird.
Donnie: Sorry…
Gretchen: No, that was a compliment.

Let me use this little dialogue from the movie “Donnie Darko” (by the way, a great movie – I highly recommend) as an opening line to my today’s post, which is sort of a celebration of weirdness. As strange as it sounds, let me first say just for the record that I am an absolutely “normal” human being, not at all “weird” and an utterly “weird” one, not at all “normal”.

That is the main question here: who is weird and who is normal? In most cases these two words are antonyms, but the fact that weirdness and normality are both terms impossible to define practically means they can be even used as synonyms. Or, their generally accepted meanings can alter due to one’s needs or views. Complicated, but let’s face it: can you imagine a tougher task than to define “normal”? Therefore, if we agree on calling someone “weird” because we don’t find him “normal”, but this someone finds himself very normal and thinks YOU are the strange one here, it only confirms that the discussion about weirdness is really tricky.

It all depends on the point of view. I my humble opinion everybody is weird, in their own way. What is important though, is whether the weirdness of a particular person is appealing to YOU. Whether calling them weird works as a compliment to them. I have always been very fond of such weirdos – those that I find attractive and pleasant. One of the most beautiful feelings I know is when someone else’s weirdness perfectly matches my own. This occurence is commonly known as friendship (or relationship of any kind).

Everybody is weird and everybody is normal. It all hangs on what is weird and what is normal TO YOU. And, even if yours and that person’s weirdness don’t exactly click, they can still be very inspirational for you.

It strikes me that some weirdness is more creative and more inspiring. Some weirdos see things “normal” people will never see, colours the others could never even imagine, write words that aren’t to be found in any dictionary. No poet, writer, painter, inventor, revolutionary, philosopher has ever been what you could call normal. If they were, we wouldn’t now admire the fruit of their weirdness – their art.

Weirdos, freaks, geeks and others of that kind are usually misunderstood by the common folk of our lovely bubble called the society. They are like rotten apples amid beautiful, perfect, polished, red apples.

If I were to choose, I’d rather be rotten. The process of decay is natural and inevitable. It symbolizes development, evolution. What else can you do but to rot? Hide behind a beautiful disguise?

On getting a job

As of today I cease to be just a blogger, who takes each day as it comes, lives freely and carelessly and whose existence brings no practical value to the society – very soon I will become a tax payer! I can mark Wednesday 21st January as another milestone on the timeline of my life: I got a proper full time job! And, what’s more, it was the first (and the only) CV I have sent since I got back home from London.

Getting a job is always a big deal – but getting the first ever job is a HUGE one. Not that I never worked – I did have several part time jobs whilst I was still a student but never have I ever worked every single day, paid taxes and had a steady income.

Needless to say, I am excited. My excitement is, however, nowhere near to that of my parents’. After breaking the news to them, they must have tried very hard not to rejoice too much, opening champagnes and celebrating their only child’s soon-to-be financial independence. I obviously don’t have kids myself but I believe there are two main milestones in the life of a parent: the day their child was born and the day they become independent. It’s like their lives start afresh – “Oh my goodness, what am I even supposed to do with my whole monthly salary now that it’s all mine?” That kind of thing.

For me, this job means a lot but above all it means a total change in my lifestyle I had been living for the last …well… many years. It means waking up early, daily routine, alarm clocks, stereotype, restricted freedom (of speech – sometimes), lack of sleep and dreams, less time to think. If you read my About section that is basically the exact opposite of what I like and what I am. This is what becoming an adult is about: you have to cope with doing things you don’t like doing and you have to realise life will never again be as careless as it was in your younger years. But you’ll get rewarded for it one day.

So I came up with this theory summarizing my new job situation (actually, any random person’s job situation):

Time and money are mutually exclusive commodities.

Too bad it’s those two things together that make a perfect (dream) job. There surely are such lucky people in this world though, who have both. When it comes to this job I got – it’s not going to be me. At least not for the time being.

I’m going to have a drink now, so here’s to new beginnings and new challenges! x

Black & White vol. II

It’s been quite long since I posted any new photographs on here so I was thinking now’s the time for some more B&W shots. All of the following pictures were taken during my travels around England.

You can check the first collection of my black and whites HERE.

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Sunset in Brighton. The sky was beautiful that day.

 

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Seagulls in a too perfect formation. Taken in Hyde Park, London.

 

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Some giant bubbles! Brighton.

 

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Not exactly a quintessential British building. Brighton.

 

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Winchester cathedral.

 

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Street of Winchester.

 

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Seen in Winchester.

 

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Another one of those vintage bikes. Oxford.

 

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Oxford. We climbed that hill! not that it was such a challenge 🙂

 

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Reflection of an old twin house. Portsmouth.

 

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Southampton harbour.

 

A little note from a street philosopher

Graffiti, spray-painting, writings on the wall. An act of vandalism or art? To me, street art can be neither, both or one of the two. Depends.

I find some writings truly inspirational. I call some of the street writers “street philosophers” because from time to time I stumble across some really nice thoughts.

Here is one that I captured in Southampton:

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I don’t know what made him write that, maybe it just crossed his mind and he wanted to share this enlightening message with the rest of us or maybe he’d lost someone or something and needed to get it out of his chest. In any case, he’s damn right! Or she.

I can’t wait for another piece of philosophy the street will tell.

Zoom in, Zoom out

Last year I went to Croatia for a summer vacation. There, by the Adriatic sea, I was snorkeling for the first time in my life. I was even asking myself why on Earth I never tried it before because it was fantastic! I couldn’t get out of the water for at least two hours and got my back nicely sunburnt.

Snorkeling was like a whole new perspective on life: I looked beneath the surface and for a while I felt like I became a part of a different world. The one that is normally hidden from our sights, the one where all sorts of creatures live in symbiosis – letting me to be an observer.

It was then when a surreal picture popped in my head: I imagined someone above me doing the same thing to us. Observing us how we live. Just as I felt so superior at that moment, being above everything else beneath me, I felt so miniscule at the same time – picturing myself from the perspective of this imaginary spectator high above. Moreover, when I pictured myself in that great vastness of the sea I started to be aware of my own insignificance.

This fantasy might work as a good metaphor to life, which I later on grasped even more in London. At first I felt like my presence there was very important, at least for me. I didn’t want to be a cliche: to become another one of the millions of immigrants who came to milk the big cow called London in the quest of making their dreams come true. I wanted to be different.

But was I to be different? Of course not. The big city only deepened my sense of unimportance. My presence will not make a change, my presence is close to nothing when looked upon from above. Walking through the streets of London and seeing all the people, I felt swallowed by the greatness of the world. Everything suddenly seemed so trivial. I thought: if I weren’t here now, who would notice? Who would even care? The only thing that really mattered then was when I came back home from town, made a tea and vanilla custard for my housemates, their smiles, the warmth of my bed, the beautiful silence and intimacy of a household. In my house I was able to make a change even by washing the dishes.

It’s the small deeds that matter. Things that you can’t see or touch. And together maybe they can create something big.

We need to zoom in to see those tiny little things in life that matter. Because when we zoom out we may realise that without those little things WE don’t matter.

Fish in a sea. Ants in an anthill. Needles in a haystack. Dots on a map. That’s all we are.

If I were a literary character

Have you ever had the feeling whilst reading a book that you could totally understand the character because they were just like you?

If you’ve read Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse I’m sure you remember the part when a stranger gives Harry Haller a book about himself – Treatise on the Steppenwolf – which was a book explaining Harry’s personality.

So it is that kind of a moment when you just want to shout out loud: Oh my, this is so me! The author must have thought of me (or at least a person strangely similar to me) whilst writing this book!

If I were a character from a book I’d be Jay Gatsby from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Not only it is one of my favourite books, but above all I could identify with the person embodied in Gatsby because this person is oddly similar to myself. Not that I throw large glamorous parties in a castle-like mansion and earn millions thanks to my business with bootlegged alcohol, but I could easily use Gatsby as a metaphor to my own (a bit more ordinary) life.

It is, in a way, a glamorous life that I live, a beautiful life it is indeed. I have a need for buzz, adventures, inspiration and excitement. All this however, like Gatsby, on the background of total loneliness and solitude. A lone wolf who values his privacy and intimacy above anything else. A house full of people does not mean one can’t feel alone. In a crowd but still alone.

He’s got everything and nothing at the same time. He always looks careless, pleased and smiling but his body hides a caring, thoughtful and a self-reflective personality. He likes to be surrounded by beautiful things, but they matter only a little. Very few people know him, but many think they do. He cares sometimes too much about what others think of him and tries to make himself look better than he actually is. He wants to reach excellence. He strives for perfection.

Gatsby’s greatest virtues are patience and hope, both of which symbolize his love for Daisy. She is the one person in his heart but this love does not have merely a romantic motive. There’s a deeper sense in loving Daisy. It is as though by being with her he would be able to return to the very basics, to the core of his true self and thus he is desperate for a second chance. This would mean a new beginning of something old, but this time it will last for ever.

Something else is embodied in Daisy, something very fundamental for him. He’s convinced that by being with her he becomes a better person, the one he always wanted to become – how he pictured himself all along. In consequence he spends half the time dwelling in the past, the other half thinking about and planning the future. So much so he sometimes forgets to live in the present. He wishes to repeat the past in the better future.

I too have my “Daisy”, who lives “across the bay from me”. Very close, yet so far away.

Have anyone of you ever identified with a character from a book? If you have, who would you be? 🙂