In the eclectic collections of randomness that you encounter on Facebook updates, I recently read a piece on how students should stop trying to be an ‘A’ student. And it made sense, to be honest, I guess any text that makes you want to believe that sometimes education is not just about acing an examination, always makes you really happy as a student. It gives you a complete sense of freedom from the entire education system, like sometimes you’re not just the wheels of a car having absolutely no clue about where you are going; you could also be the steering wheel choosing your own destination.
Maybe the advice is worth it’s salt and maybe it’s not. Who knows our education system has been in place for centuries now and examinations are a huge part of it. But things are changing. Sir Ken Robinson believes that the entire education paradigm should change. But, one thing I know for sure is that education is about finding your way through the mess of courses that you sometimes like and sometimes dislike. It is about making a few friends in the process of being educated, who will probably stand by you as the world seems to fall apart. It is about being in a particular class room every single day trying to understand the mechanics of a course that you are still not comfortable with and doing it together with a bunch of classmates who are sometimes smarter than you are and sometimes really dumb. In the middle of it all, there you are, a little lost, a little confused, a little amazed and a little at home.
Within this strange space of a classroom, education slowly becomes a way of finding your voice and ensuring that it doesn’t get lost in the cacophony of commitments, assignments, presentations and final evaluations. Though the piece that I read was mostly written for students of arts and media, I think finding a voice is an essential part of growing up while being educated. It gives you the courage to be open and straight-forward. It gives you the strength to take up an opportunity and speak your mind without the fear of losing everything that you have worked for in the years that you have spent to be educated. And ultimately realizing what you are good at and what you should be doing for the rest of your life.
I remember being asked by Shiv Visvanathan who is one of my teachers from undergraduate years, to talk about the idea of memory and what it means and to find out 300 words that connect to the concept of memory. It was a pretty lengthy exercise which ultimately made me realize that even a simple word such as “I” connotes memory of an individual who uses it. I think sometimes places mean more to us because of the people we meet at that place and the memory of places is a combination of what you personally think about it and what your friends add to your thinking.
So, I think if I am to write about Maastricht and how I see it, my notes would be incomplete without contributions from friends who have made Maastricht the experience that it has been. If I really need to be honest about my memories, I guess I need their additional perspective to be a part of my blog. So, I am creating a new category to accommodate a few words from a few friends who have seen Maastricht and have something to say about it and I am going to call it Friends et al. It would be released on a Wednesday, in case, I am able to find a friend who isn’t lazy enough to extend his/her deadline for a blog post. My posts would continue to be updated every Sunday.
This profile page belongs to Ranjit Singh, an Indian who is currently lost in Maastricht and has been trying to find a way to complete a Research Masters degree in Cultures of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST) at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS), Maastricht University. I am currently in the second year of this degree which also suggests the successful completion of the first. Usually my profile page has a single quote by Bill Waterson’s character Calvin which goes something like this: “Why isn't my life like a situation comedy? Why don't I have a bunch of friends with nothing better to do but drop by and instigate wacky adventures? Why aren't my conversations peppered with spontaneous witticisms? Why don't my friends demonstrate heartfelt concern for my well being when I have problems? ...I gotta get my life some writers.” I usually write to fill up the space of these missing writers, trying to find things that are worth a mention in an otherwise mundane existence. I have pretty straightforward hobbies, first, travelling and the second, writing short fiction. The first hobby also explains one of the many reasons why I came to do CAST at Maastricht University, apart from that fact, that CAST is developing into one of the most prestigious STS programs in the world. Though it doesn’t really hold much value if I as a student go on bragging about the course. As for the second hobby, interested people may visit: http://dropsfromsolaris.posterous.com/ Being primarily from a city in India, specifically Ahmedabad, in Gujarat, I have had consistent difficulties in treating Maastricht as a city. It is just too small to be called a city from Indian standards. But, I guess if you overlook the size of this small little space struggling to breather between Belgium and Germany, I suppose being in Maastricht has its perks: a strong community of international students, a complete constellation of events organized by Studium Generale and a wide collection of pubs to hang out.