Written by co-explorer, Amanda. (details below)
Welcome (back) to Stellenbosch!
As I was driving into Stellenbosch this morning, I had to fight the urge to be frustrated with the massive increase in the amount of vehicles on the road…it was evident: the students are back!
This means longer point-to-point travel time through Stellenbosch, stopping at each pedestrian crossing, long lunch queues in the Neelsie and, of course, NO PARKING. A lot of (I know, First World-) problems that can easily turn a beautiful day in one that is dreaded by most.
But then, as I started to pay attention to the noises through my car window I realised it was, in fact, not noises but excited chatter, friendly laughter and meaningful catch-up conversations. I can just imagine the topics of conversation:
How was your holiday?
Where did you spend New Year’s?
Did you pass that final exam?
I can’t believe my time table for this term
What electives are you taking this year?
Did you hear so-and-so eventually broke up with that girl?
Are you still in res?
I Have no idea how I am going to pass this module this year
Did you hear who we have as lecturer this semester?
How bad do I look on this student card photo?!
I can’t wait to start my internship
Can you believe this is our final year?
What are you doing next year?
What are you doing this year?
I must say…this crowd I’m witnessing today, looks a bit different than the one that arrived last week. You all know (even those of you are new second years) how to spot a First Year, right? I’m not talking about the matching outfits (daai Pret-Pakkies) they are wearing when the bunch around campus. I’m talking about the way they bunch around campus. Confused, big (often starry) eyed… You’ve seen them.
Although these two groups I’ve mentioned may appear like they are from different worlds, I do believe they are quite similar. Similar fears, dreams, questions… I also believe they are not so different from those of us who are driving past, without student cards, still searching, dreaming, hoping, waiting.
For that Big Break.
That Answer to the Question.
Some of us are still wondering what the question is.
I want to offer a word of advice…maybe just an idea or two to try out. Maybe it is more of an invitation – to join me in this ongoing search for significance, meaning and reason.
– Be open to new experiences, new truths, new people, new opinions.
– Be open towards learning. You do not know everything. As you gain more knowledge, you’ll probably end up realising that you don’t know anything.
– Try and see beyond the next class, test, assignment, qualification. Start trying to see where all this is heading.
– Be true to yourself in the small decisions (by the way – you have to get to know yourself to be able to be true to yourself).
– Get to know yourself. Know what excites you, what makes you YOU, what your skills are, what values you base your decisions on. Find things to do that will awaken these aspects of yourself, whether it is your course, some community interaction, extra-curricular activities, sport or participation in cultural events at res. The list goes on. If you can’t find something, create something.
– Be pro-active about getting the support you need. (Varsity) Life is tough. Be tuned into yourself enough in order to see the red lights before they start flashing. Before you hit rock bottom, before you fail that exam, before you are in your third year and know you’ve been studying the wrong course all along. Before you stop getting out of bed because you just can’t fake it through another day.
– Take time to breathe and see and smell and hear. You’ll be surprised about how many things we just pass by without noticing.
– Take Notice. Of yourself and of others.
I hope your year is filled with meaningful moments and challenges. I hope your year is filled with questions that lead you to undiscovered places. I hope your year is evident of success and that you will redefine what success means to you.
Amanda van der Vvyer
OPVOEDKUNDIGE SIELKUNDIGE | EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGIST
Universiteit van Stellenbosch | Stellenbosch University
Sentrum vir Studente Voorligting en –ontwikkeling | Centre for Student Counselling and Development