Back to school was always an odd time for me. Growing up I went to schools outside of the area I lived in. So each time I switched schools, I had to “get reacclimated” to the new place and all the new faces. As a kid I hated these moves. When I jumped from elementary school to middle school a lot of my friends followed, so in that particular case it was less traumatic but when it came to high school I pretty much had to reinvent myself. For a 15 year old this is rarely a “fun time” on the life development timeline. If any of you had experiences like me then your parents probably gave you words of wisdom like, “Don’t worry, none of this will matter in 10 years”. At the time you think to yourself “my parents so don’t understand” but then 10 years later, you realize they were right! By the time you get into and then out of university, the whole social experiment that is the educational process has finally thickened our skins and we are ready for the so called “real world”.
This fall I get to relive a bit of that odd switching schools feeling. I am going back to school after a 9 year hiatus. Nine years… since I graduated university and joined the work force; it also just so happens to be the nine year anniversary of leaving the US and coming to work and live in China. So here I am with my new notebook (ok, so it doesn’t have lines… it’s more of a sketch pad), a mini-rucksack, and a pack of pencils (correction, box of sharpies… call me an artist) getting ready for grad school. Last week I did all my registration, this week there was a meeting for all new master’s students in the Architecture and City Planning dept, I’m meeting with teachers tomorrow and we are picking classes and getting an advisers next week. Classes actually begin on the 16th.
During registration I asked about my book list… nope, no books. According to the admin guy in the office, a few professors have required reading lists but nothing “official” for the class. We are after all design students… or that’s what they are telling me. While I am relieved (because I was a little worried about keeping up with the text being that it is ALL in Chinese) I am still surprised that there are no actual books. Studio classes aside I would expect classes like Theory of Modern Architecture to have a book. Who knows, maybe the teachers will have us pick them up on our own.
So here I am, the new guy on campus with a bunch of really young designers as classmates. From those I met at the new master’s student meeting today, I am 5-7 years older than all my classmates. I suppose this will have its advantages as I have already had working experience and for the last 7 months have been working in a firm that actually does projects like the ones I will be learning to do… so yes, once again (just like when my parents gave me advice as a young kid) age does carry wisdom.
I am also lucky to be going to school here at Nanjing University. The fact that it is a long established university and has some really nice traditional architecture on campus, gives it a very interesting look. I doubt that any school in the US can boast such an interesting diversity of architecture on its campus. It really is a beautiful place! From what I understand some of my architecture classes will be in the tallest building on campus, the 12th and 10th floors of the “Mongolian Tower”. This is also where the department admin offices are located. Some of the classes will be in the new “Design Wing” in these old traditional style buildings that are just around the corner. I haven’t been in yet but I am looking forward to seeing these new studios. They are supposed to be retrofitted and modern but with an exterior look of a NeoClassical Chinese building. I’ll have to go check them out next time I am on campus.
I suppose all I can really do is wait for the start of classes but still I really enjoy walking around campus. It is certainly a place that gets your creativity flowing and makes you look at life from a different perspective! I am sure there will be many more stories to share during my time at Nanjing University!