School’s for summer — not forever since I seem to be a lifelong student.

After attending three university sessions in a row (summer, fall and winter), I’m taking a little break. Trust me, I need it.

Since summer 2009, I took four classes, including the very useful French as a second language course I was forced to take (remember, being French is not a proof that I can speak French). It doesn’t seem much like that but I’m working full-time in a very demanding job, and since I already have a university degree, school is not my priority.

Mind you, I’m a good student: two A- and one A+, plus my beautiful bilingualism certificate. I didn’t do to bad for someone who attend classes and sit exams after an 8 hour-long workday.

On one side, my experience with university in Canada is pretty good. First, I hope that eventually I will be able to complete a Canadian degree, even if the goal seems to be very far away. Second, it helps me keep a balance with my crazy work environment. Culturally speaking, it is also interesting to see how things are taught on this side of the Atlantic Ocean: perspectives, especially on economics, history and politics are quite different from Europe’s. Students behave differently too.

However, I won’t probably go back to school full-time. I toyed with the idea for a while last year as I had always wanted to experience the North American university rite of passage. But I realize now that I’m probably too old, too cynical and too experienced for that. I’m sure it’s different at a postgrad level, but I’m stuck in undergrad (remember, my French university degree is not recognized here). I feel miles away from most of my classmates who live the student life: a bachelor pad on campus, busy nights partying and drinking, days cramming knowledge and updating Facebook status, a certainty that they can change the world… Once you’ve seen the world and started working, it’s just hard to fit in. I feel like an alien most of the time.

This is a set of pictures I took at the University of Toronto, for a change. They have a super nice campus too!

Toronto Skyline from the University


Blazon of the Arms

Orange Bike

Pumpkin Building (WTF?)


Dome and CN Tower

Entrance to Courtyard

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  1. Max Coutinho May 22, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Hey Zhu,

    Girl, I felt the same way you do when I was in college (and I was only 20): a total alien. Maybe because I already worked at the time (I work since I was 16). Precociousness & maturity do that to us.

    Anyway, holidays from school is always fun: so enjoy your summer, cherie :D.

    Your university is gorgeous though.

    Have a fab weekend!
    .-= Max Coutinho´s last blog ..Weapons of Mass Destruction =-.

  2. Tulsa Gentleman May 22, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    You are right, if you went to university now it would be a totally different experience. I went to Oklahoma State straight from high school and had a great time of campus activities, dating, and school events. Later I went through a master’s program at the University of Tulsa. I was working full time, married with two babies, and no time for any campus activity. Very different.
    .-= Tulsa Gentleman´s last blog ..Monochrome Reflections – Château de Chenonceau =-.

  3. DianeCA May 22, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    First really cool architecture. I love it.

    Second, I too have experience in studying in North American and Europe and found the differnt teachings and views very enlightening. It really reflects the values and beliefs of the culture you are living in. And I feel I am SOOOO well educated with a taste of both worlds 😉
    .-= DianeCA´s last blog ..Welcoming Spring with a color explosion =-.

  4. micki May 22, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Great to have a break! Yeap, once we have been working, it is hard to fit in the college student group physically, but not cognitively 🙂 Enjoy your summer break~~~
    .-= micki´s last blog ..Jiufen Old Street =-.

  5. seb May 22, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Constantly updating facebook status is why I payed a bazillion dollars to go to university. Awesome.
    .-= seb´s last blog ..It’s Rabbit Season =-.

  6. Seraphine May 23, 2010 at 1:10 am

    living in north america is no guarantee one can speak english either.

    one day women will take over the world. you rarely see men taking classes during their working years- i’d bet 65-70% of evening students in california are female.

    i’d go back to school full time if i could afford it. being an alien isn’t so bad. i love my energy absorber field. all i need to make my life complete is a laser zapper.

    and grats to you zhu for completing three terms at school while working full time and writing such an elegant blog! you are amazing.

    it’s interesting what you wrote about the chinese numbers 4 and 8. i think they derive meaning from numbers by what the word for that number sounds like. if six sounds like sex, then 6 must mean sex. it makes sense to me.
    i guess being chinese doesn’t guarantee one can speak chinese either.
    .-= Seraphine´s last blog ..#800 =-.

  7. Beth May 23, 2010 at 8:45 am

    U of T – my old alma mater! Such a beautiful campus.
    Enjoy your summer break – you most certainly deserve it.
    .-= Beth´s last blog ..Walk It Off… =-.

  8. Bluefish May 23, 2010 at 9:48 am

    I, too, felt like an outcast when I was in University. Everybody seemed to be partying it up all the time, while I have to work during the weekend and study during the week. But I don’t think one is ever too old to learn…there are even really old people in my classes (grandfather age).

    I wish I can attend an European university to know what’s it’s like… 🙂

  9. RennyBA May 23, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Looks like a really cool place to study. Don’t worry if you can’t party as much as the others, you have a life outside of school. And congratulations on being finished with the semester it must feel great! Keep up the good work!
    .-= RennyBA´s last blog ..Interpretation painting art of Nikita Norkin =-.

  10. Zhu May 23, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    @Max Coutinho – Trust me, I will enjoy my summer 🙂 More on that later… 😉

    @Tulsa Gentleman – I bet it was different! Especially when you are responsible for a family.

    @DianeCA – You are right, both educations complement each other perfectly. You are one smart woman!

    @micki – Cognitively, I don’t have a problem in fitting so I’m thankful for that. I guess I never really stopped studying, so it makes things easier.

    @Agnes – Merci beaucoup (is that right? :lol:)

    @seb – And believe it or not, I’m the only idiot who comes to class with a pen and paper, not a laptop. Sigh.

    @Seraphine – But fortunately, they did believe I spoke English because I passed the TOEL. Phew. Otherwise, they would have believe I didn’t speak English nor French. What would I have been? A Western Chinese student???

    @Beth – I didn’t know you attended this university! So you are a true Torontonian 😉

    @Bluefish – Well, you should. When your language skills will be better, it is definitely an option to explore for you!

    @London Caller – Oh yeah, we love beavers! 🙂

    @RennyBA – I don’t mind not partying, between us I’ve never been a party girl. I was hoping to make more friends though.

  11. shionge May 24, 2010 at 1:38 am

    I have always been a life-long learning students as well and I wish…(hope dreams come true) that I can be an adult leaner going on overseas for anything that is of interest to me.

    Toronto is so cool there…are you anywhere near the city centre? Would be great to meet you for a cuppa and you can teach me some basic french 😀

  12. Rich B May 24, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Congrats on finishing school WHILE working full time! Here in the states lots of folks have to work to help pay for ever increasing costs of college. State schools are not too bad (but with budget cuts, getting more expensive) but private schools are ridiculous. The local private university is $40,000 per year for tuition alone. This doesn’t include books,room, board or other expenses.
    I worry about costs for my 3 kids.
    this means school is either for the ultra rich or those willing to become indentured servants for the next 20 years of their lives. Try paying for that while flipping burgers on the weekends!

  13. barbara May 26, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Hi Zhu,

    I LOVE college campuses. They bring back memories of all different types, and almost all good ones.
    So, it’s summer and you can just work and earn money and enjoy your days off!!

    I know that you will make it for your degree.

  14. Linguist-in-Waiting May 26, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    I know what you feel regarding alienation and such. I am 27, and looking at the undergrads in the university in Buffalo, I am a generation away from them. I don’t understand what their ways of thinking are, and I don’t get their social norms. I also visited my old university here in Manila, and I saw the freshmen. Wow. These 17 year old students, a full decade younger than me, they look so fresh!
    .-= Linguist-in-Waiting´s last blog ..Sticker =-.

  15. Delph May 27, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Moi juste devoir passer 4 examens ça me tanne alors reprendre à plein temps, no way!
    .-= Delph´s last blog ..C’est de saison =-.

  16. Gitte May 29, 2010 at 7:18 am

    Merci beaucoup 😀

    C’est toujours un bonheur de regarder ton site, c’est tellement riche !
    C’est toi toute seule qui gère tout ça ;-)?

    .-= Gitte´s last blog ..Le magicien des couleurs habite rue Poncelet =-.


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