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July 28, 2008 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

Third Year Blues

Bright eyed and bushy tailed with a smile that could only be the wonderful anticipation of a new adventure. Wellington seems like a city alive with art and difference rather than pretension and crazy bums. Oh first years, you are all so damn cute. Enjoy your naïve idealism while it lasts. Soon you will be a jaded third year who drinks too much coffee and smokes way too much. A Salient feature writer documents their experience as a third year and reminisces on their time in Wellington.

No final year student can deny the undefinable feeling of horror as your degree winds down. It is not only the end of an era; it is the end of your life as an irresponsible student. Your pretend grown up life is about to be replaced by the terrifyingly real adult world of nine to five. I remember my anticipation of university life as a plethora of fantastic experiences. In first year every day I would wake up with a fire in my belly for drinking, fun and learning. I would wake up early but stay up late. I could walk down Cuba St without rolling my eyes. I would actually worry if I missed a lecture. I admired my lecturers. I adored all things “absolutely positively Wellington.” These days I stay up to the wee hours of the morning watching mind numbing late night movies, starting assignments the night before they are due and overdosing on coffee. In the morning I reluctantly roll out of bed and ready myself for the day ahead with more coffee and TV 3’s Good Morning – which is like chocolate ice cream for the mind.

I was not always a cynical crybaby…Victoria University and Wellington scenesters have slowly but surely destroyed my soul. I may be acting a little melodramatic as I do have fond memories of my years as a university ‘student.’ I have meet truly remarkable people and unforgettable friends. University has helped me find out who I am and what I am capable of. It has expanded my once narrow small town mind into the liberal, feminist postmodern disaster it is today. I was exposed to the joys of serious drunken deep and meaningfuls with strangers. I was introduced to the wonders of stumbling to Burger King or some equally disgusting eatery on the way home after a night of getting ‘OTP’ (that’s ‘on the piss’ for those of you who have had the pleasure of never hearing that). But the whole process of university has taken the wind out my sails so to speak. After all this learning I cannot help but wonder, “Now what the fuck I am going to do?”

The more educated I have become the more I realised we (my generation of graduates if you will) have inherited a pretty shitty world. Hence the enormous amount of hopelessness a number of third year students feel. That is of course unless you study marketing or commerce in which case you are Satan’s little helpers and you probably think the Business Round Table is rad and the free trade agreement with China is like so totally awesome. What on earth has happened to the liberal student agenda? When I read about the heyday of student protests I think “What a sad bunch we all are now.” It’s like we have given up.


Being completely unprepared for the real world is particularly Salient if you are a student of the arts and humanities. My BA ( bugger all) in sociology and media alone will get me nowhere but a glorified secretary position at Ministry of Fisheries or Inland Revenue (I’m just living the dream folks). This is highly self defeating, as most BA subjects fuel your hatred of such mundanely meaningless consumer driven lives, yet simultaneously restrict you to a government department or lending consultant position which reinforces that kind of life. Hideous.

Truth be told one thing my degree has given me is the ability to have pretentious arguments at dinner parties and other social occasions. I can win most arguments because my knowledge of sociology and philosophy has given me the striking talent of being able to argue in circles… Never coming to any real conclusion but somehow always winning. This tactic usually always works unless I am paired up against a law student who inevitably beats me down with logic.

University has also taught me how to write a satisfactory essay on how fucked up the world is. I can argue quite convincingly on how the world is fucked and why your opinion on why the world is fucked is highly problematic. If you do not believe me I’ll reference some peeps who have PhDs ‘n’ shit. Thus my opinion is validated because if you cannot find some accredited smart person (see: obsessed hermit) who agrees with you then your opinion does not matter. Sometimes I find myself wondering, “If the main thing I have learned from university is how fucked the world is, surely three years out in the real world could have taught me that…” Without the student loan.

To quote a very stupid (but amusing) movie Clerks II: I constantly ask myself why I decided to study sociology – “What the hell did I want to be? A superhero.” In all honestly: yes I did want to be a superhero. Years of watching human interest stories on the news involving either the deteriorating environment or poor African babies with flies all over them had given me an overwhelming sense of responsibility. I went to university to change the world. It almost seems rather childish now.

Now I know all the architecture, law, and engineering students and anyone else with a real degree will disagree but university is hardly academically strenuous for the rest of us. It only becomes so because we get to the point where we really do not care for the subject we are studying. This is not completely our fault. Every year, no matter what paper – be it sociology, media, English, anthropology, film, theatre, or worst of all psychology – there will be some mention of Foucault. Because I have heard and read so much about this French sociologist all I actually hear now when he comes up in a lecture is “Foucault wank wank wank Foucault wank wank.” It is getting to the stage that if I have to hear about Foucault’s panopticon system of surveillance again I will stand up in my lecture and scream “We heard you the first time!” It seems we are getting taught the same things every year… And the academics wonder why students don’t give a shit anymore. The bullshit things people write academic articles about never ceases to amaze me. Guess what I learnt last semester? The effect of gaming on culture on society…Are you fucking kidding me? Villages get raped and pillaged in Somalia. New Zealand men beat their wives more when the All Blacks lose. The planet is fucked and you want to talk to me about the video game Tomb Raider and Lara Croft’s ambiguity as a feminist icon…Go fuck yourself.


Like come on! Shit weather!


“Cheer up emo kid” I hear you yell. You’re right I should lighten up but growing up is such a daunting experience, especially for someone as caught up in their own imagination as I am. The thought of working in a soulless media corporation or becoming a bureaucratic paper pushing dweeb makes me want to crawl into the foetal position and rock myself to sleep. I better make the most of this year…Or enroll in postgrad to delay my arrival into the real world…But that means I have to stay here.


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  1. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    You could always do what I did – spend 3 years doing a 9 to 5’er job after the completion of your degree, only to stumble upon the realisation of what it is that you REALLY want to do…

    … and then go back to uni to study it :)

    Chin up though – we all get a little disillusioned from time to time. There’s still a lot of good in the world – it’s just not quite as easy to see through all the rapes, murders, and explosions.

  2. Naly D says:

    Go to America, I think Virgina Tech does a postgraduate in Conflict Management, for which you only need a BA – This can get you into the UN (My American flatmate was doing his that way, doing a BA here then postgrad there).

    Second, TV One does Good Morning, TV3 Does Sunrise.

  3. Trent Burgess says:

    Now, now, where is that superhero when you need him or her… for someone who is caught up in their imagination, you’d think you may be able to change the world to your advantage… maybe there has been a little to much academic thinking going on and not enough doing… you think you know all this stuff but do you really know it? Did you really go to uni to get a job? Do you really need to go to uni to get a job… of course not so why do you think it should help you now?

    Use that imagination to make your world a better place (maybe read Butterflies in Straitjackets for some experiential guidance)… decide what it is you are passionate about… this can take some time… but once you find it, don’t go and ‘learn’ about it… go and do it… New Zealand social welfare system is incredibly supportive…

    If this doesn’t make sense, just accept yiu’ve been sold a lie, you never wanted to be an academic so you shouldn’t have gone to uni, almost 50% of people your age got sold the same lie too, get an Academic Score (to show what your degree is really worth!) and a good CV and go and climb that corporate ladder… it will be like this third year feeling… forever…

  4. blog girl says:

    yeah so true.

    Its very true im on the same page as you Stuart
    I dealistic first year and 3rd year you become jaded,
    so sad so true.

    But im grinning almost out of here,

    I think if you delay it by doing postgrad – you end up hating or feeling disillussioned more:)

  5. Gibbon says:

    I don’t mean to pry but as this was a feature article, does it mean you got paid for writing this?

  6. Chris says:

    Normally features are longer than a page…

  7. Jenna Powell says:

    I get paid for doing 7 hours ‘feature related’ work for salient each week…which could mean anything. This can mean interviewing, researching, helping out and yes sometimes writing bullshit things about how stuff sucks. I also write eye on exec quite a bit…and the occasional film review. You want to have argument about it?

    For all those who gave advice….Awww :) :).

  8. Wide Circles says:

    We all know the scare you/work you/bore you to death saying about law school. But I sense there is a lot of reality about students being bored to death in the third year. In a real sense, students have outgrown us by that time. They’ve been exposed to what most of us do — thinking about law in a pretty conceptual sense, have gotten better at it (or not), and are looking forward to the next stage of their careers. For the great majority of them, that next stage will be practice of some sort.


  9. U KNOW says:

    I think you guys all need to look at it like this…

    At least you don’t study somewhere which is basically a swamp and the parts which are not deemed swamp are paddocks. In Wellington you have hundreds of oppurtunities which do not include employment options like milking cows, owning a food outlet or for those who are really branching out, been that guy who sits outside the malls with a sign asking for money to bring his children to New Zealand as he sits there singing. Stuart I think you have really covered some relevant points because the real world is a daunting place and lets be honest with sweet moans like this you deserve to paid!!! Your my hero, I think I am going to post you some of my underwear as a token of my apprecitation for your fine writing!

  10. Naly D says:

    U KNOW, I am a patriotic ex-Levin resident and think you have neglected to mention some of the positive aspects of that fair township.

  11. Argh says:

    I this this article was a load of snivelling drivel. What a corrosively negative attitude to be displaying to the student population! The last thing I want to be reading in Salient is a page of your ever-so-pathetic diary.

  12. Michael Oliver says:

    Oh, the crosses you bear, “Argh.” The crosses you bear.

  13. Gibbon says:

    I tend to agree with Argh. This is a prime example of why I don’t want to write for Salient… the bar is set so low.

  14. Michael Oliver says:

    Yeah, seriously – have you seen the fuckwit they’ve got writing sports? Guy wouldn’t know a sticky wicket from the one in his trouser–


  15. I liked this feature.

    But I am a bit slow.

  16. Jackson Wood says:

    “This is a prime example of why I don’t want to write for Salient… the bar is set so low.”
    Wanna come raise it then?

    Walk the talk baby.

  17. Gibbon says:

    No, I don’t want to

  18. Mr Magoo says:

    Chin up Gibbon

  19. Angelica Dela Cruz says:

    i like this article. i already love the author. hehe. :) thanks. it’s useful for me for my composition in english. :P

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