I’m Still Alive!

Hello dear readers! It’s been a long time, I know, but school has been really, really stressful. If I had to describe studying graphic design in two words it would be “stressful” but “gratifying“.

Deadlines are hard and fast, projects literally need to be perfect and the learning curve is steep! But I like challenges and put 110% into every single project in every single class. I’ve sweated literally on assignments out of sheer panic and fear, cried in hubby’s arms over actual or anticipated marks and there was one particular incident with one of my cats, who shall not be named, who decided to climb on me while I was working, and there was some blood involved. (I was SO not impressed!)

And as good as the program is, it can feel like they expect you sometimes to already know everything, which can be a tad frustrating. I had next to zero experience with Adobe Creative Suite when I first started, and after only one class in some of the programs, we were asked to use them to create some projects ranging from basic to fairly elaborate. So I’ve been redoing projects in these programs at home as well as getting together with a second-year tutor. I’ll pretty much do anything to get ahead and stay ahead.

That’s what this program requires, complete dedication. You can’t settle for the first design concept that pops into your brain and you have to be proud of your work. Regularly communicating with the teachers is also key, although some are easier to access for their opinion on your progress than others. It also requires time, lots and lots of time, for research and execution. For instance, I spent ten hours working on one drawing and my mark was pretty good, but there were people who spent twenty or thirty hours on theirs (One girl worked FIFTY hours on hers! Holy shamoley!) and their marks were better.

However, despite these complaints, the program is fulfilling and rewarding. They push you to think and create things and sometimes they turn out really neat! Some projects are so much fun too, and I have laughed so hard while doing them, my sides hurt! Sometimes, I’ll be walking the dog at night, which is great creative fodder btw, and smile at how much I enjoy doing my homework. (Even if it can be crazy stressful sometimes!) The other students have been helpful too, which is great, and I’ve been sure to express my gratitude to them by helping them out should they need it.

That’s it for now, but I hope you guys enjoyed my little spiel. I’m just going to keep fighting and doing my best and hopefully it will all work out!:)

Week Two

It’s the end of my second week at college and I’ve already got homework projects to keep me busy. The running spiel from the teachers in pretty much all my classes was: “Get ready, because we are going to give you lots and lots to do at home and in class”

What reading and studying is to university, project making is to college. I don’t mind though, because most of the work is pretty fun!

In the second week of classes, people in the program were also starting to chat with one-another, as opposed to just sticking like glue to their friends. I now talk every class with a girl who was in the Pre-Animation program, but decided to switch to Graphic Design, instead of continuing on with the regular Animation program. She’s also a furry and showed me her costumes. Furries-for those who think they’re just crazy-are actually just regular people who enjoy dressing up and making people happy and getting lots of attention. You’d never catch me dressed up in a big sweaty panda/cat/dog/etc costume, but whatever flots your boat.  There’s another girl who introduced herself and mentioned that she was working full-time for awhile too before quitting and going back to school. One of her previous jobs consisted of tax collection, so I could see why she quit.

Anyways, other recent events were buying a laptop-essential for the program-and finally finding my way around campus. Algonquin is the only school whose buildings are letters instead of names. Why? I have no idea, but I can now use the tunnels like a pro and am no longer wandering around in circles.

For those who are curious, these are the classes and my impression of them, for first semester:

Graphic Design 1-Gives a general outline of the field of graphic design and it’s fundamentals and techniques, as well as opens the floor to discussion on various related topics.

Typography-The study and creation of type. The instructor LOVES type and you never really think much about it until you take a few of these classes and realize how influential it can be.

Computer Graphics-Discusses computers, namely Apple laptops, and their functions as well as essential software used by graphic designer, namely Adobe Creative Suite.

Creative Thinking-A class that tries to get your imagination flowing by various exercises. It sounds a bit flaky, but the exercises do work!

Photography-Using our cameras, we wander around taking pictures according to the teachers specifications.  We’ve already covered composition.

Visual Dynamics-An intensive illustration class where basics like shading and proportion are covered. In our last class, we had to make some boxes and they had to be a specific size and centered right in the middle of the page. I can’t remember the last time I measured something with a ruler on a page, so that proved a bit more frustrating than the rest of the assignment. But correct measurement is important in this program, so I’ll just keep at it until I get it. :)

So that’s it for now, but next time, I’ll post some pictures around campus!

First classes

After a lazy Labour Day weekend, today was my first day of classes. I had a heck of a time getting to sleep last night and was pretty much in full panic mode staring at the ceiling, same tired worries and regrets circling through my head. It wasn’t until after a sleeping pill and some nose blowing (my allergies are crazy right now!) that I finally got a bit of sleep.

All my morning classes for the week begin at 8am sharp, so after persuading Hubby to drive me in the morning, he and I both woke up at 6:30am and got ready. My Tuesday morning class is Photography and there is about twenty students registered.  The instructor is a trim, 35-year-old guy with blondish, slightly spiky hair who, in addition to taking pictures, has a passion for rugby and told us about his experiences playing the sport. Then it was the students turn to state their name and talk briefly about themselves. One girl at the back mentioned that she was a psychology student, but left because it “sucked”, which made me wince since I have a degree in that program. But weirdly enough, there were a few other kids who also said that they tried psych as well and left due to lack of interest.

Anywho, when it came around to my turn, I mentioned my degree and said that I liked the program but didn’t pursue graduate studies, and gave a tiny version of my life story up to now.  Somebody had to stick up for psych and while this isn’t the first time I’ve heard it being criticized and yes, I sometimes regret my degree, I still think it’s an interesting subject. Taken as just a bachelors, it doesn’t help you solve your own and/or others craziness, but at least it gives you a bit of insight, which can be oddly comforting. ;) Plus, as you all know, you pretty much need a BA or diploma to do anything nowadays!

After introductions, we were given our first assignment: We were given a number of steps from the classroom entrance to a spot where we would take ten photos. I was given the number 50, so I walked down the hallway, counting the number of steps while also dodging crowds of students and when I got to 50, I stopped and found myself in a starwell. Then I photographed random stuff: The floor, the sky, the flourescent light fixtures on the ceiling, some people coming up and down the stairs and worried if my pictures were good, I was putting some thought into them, but it’s tough to do anything too magnificent from a bright college starwell.  It was fun regardless though!

Then after a looong and hot walk to the bus stop, I went home and called up the Registrars Office and listened to Kenny G muzak for about twenty minutes until confirming with someone there that yes, I am enrolled in Communications online. Ironically enough, no one communicated with me that I was registered online, so I had to make sure, because I really didn’t want to go to an early morning class, come home and then hours later, have to go back to school again. But it is online and you’ll never guess what we’ll be doing-Blogging! Slightly different then this of course, but the gist is the same. Isn’t that funny?

So that’s that for today-Tomorrow-Wednesdays- will be the busiest day of the week for me, I have classes from 8am-5pm, with a lunch break at 2pm. Thursdays are my days off and then I have one morning class on Fridays. In college you spend more time doing assignments, then listening to lectures, which suits me fine! As mentioned, I love dear old Psychology and university in general, but I’m looking forward to more practical schooling!

I’m not the only one!

A few weeks ago I received an email from the “Mature Students Network” at Algonquin College inviting me to a Mature Students Network Meeting and today was the day. I assumed that the gathering would consist of at most ten people sitting around in a circle in a small and dark room, but I arrived to see a hundred people milling about a large, bright room with two large projectors on either side. After sitting down next to a friendly looking woman who is pursuing Library Studies, the coordinators of Mature Students Network talked about things like student cards, accounts, support associations, class exemptions, etc.

Networking was particularly stressed, obviously given that it’s part of their name, and they gave us five minutes to talk to someone in our immediate location. The guy in front of me turned around and we chatted a bit, he pretty much echoed everything that I’ve been feeling and when the conversation turned to going to school with 17 and 18-year-olds he groaned: “God, yes, it’s going to be tough. I mean I’m older, y’know, older!”

Curious, I asked “How old are you?”

“30″

I laughed and said “Well I’m 31!” to which he backtracked a bit and clarified: “Notice, I did say ‘older’, not old”

Well that’s good, because what’s one year older than old? ;)

In all honesty, I’ve been trying to get past the whole “age thing”, and groups like these have been really helpful. I’m not so arrogant to think that I’m the only one over the age of 25 going back to school, but to see the sheer number of people trying to better their lives and not letting something like age get in their way, well it’s pretty frickin amazing!

After the meeting was adjourned, I took the coordinator’s advice and picked up my student card and my bus pass. All I need now is a laptop and books and I’m all set! It’s been eight years since I went to school full-time and I’m intimidated, but a little less so after the meeting today!

I’m free!!

My last day at work came and went really quickly! There were days in that job that seem to lag on and on, days when I felt like such a disappointment to myself, but once I decided to change my life, things started happening really quickly and there was a light at the end of a tunnel.

The last two weeks have been a great blur of free food and coworker friends who I’ve befriended over the years and support from unexpected people who would send me emails wishing me luck going back to school.

There was also some added extra financial help from my work, which was a HUGE relief, believe me!

Anyways, the past almost five years have had it’s ups and downs and I’m definitely glad to be leaving, but I’m still grateful to have had the opportunity to work there. The job was never meant to be long term and it was at the bottom of the admin chain, but it enabled me to support Hubby while he was in Law School, covered the cost of our car and awesome vacations and most of all let me learn, grow and mature into a more professional woman who now knows what she wants and will hopefully achieve it!

What no to do during a heatwave..

After taking two weeks off to pack, move and then unpack, I insisted to Hubby that we get out of town for a bit, so I could A)Jump in a lake and B)Go to a drive in.

Neither of which turned out exactly as planned.

The whole Ottawa area had been experiencing a heatwave, and we drove up to Murphy’s Point, one of the closest parks to the city, to cool off. Unfortunately, lots of other people had the same idea and the place was packed! The park has two beaches and we picked the smaller one, thinking there might be less people, but it was also crowded. We left not long after arriving, not so much because of the people, although that did put a slight damper, but more because the sand wasn’t quite so comfy to lie on after awhile. (Prepared, we were not) Luckily, however, Hubby’s aunt invited us to her cottage so we drove there and enjoyed the space and her beach chairs.

Her son’s dogs greeted us upon arrival-One is huge and LOVES the water while the other is your usual feisty but still cute, Jack Russell.

After dinner, we went to the drive in and if there is any piece of advice I can give with this post other than the importance of bringing chairs to the beach (Or at least more than three towels), it’s to never, ever go to a drive in during a heatwave! Just don’t. It may sound intuitive, but I haven’t been a drive-in since I was nine and fell asleep during “The Hunt for Red October“, so my memories of this activity were hazy.

                                                                                                                                               Lineup to the snack bar. The last remaining moments of fresh air.

The car was like a sauna and as soon as we opened the car doors to let in a smidgen of a breeze, mosquitos would infiltrate our car and eat us alive! Of course we couldn’t leave the car turned on for air conditioning either, so we were trapped. I ended up dropping ice cubes from my drink down my shirt and Hubby’s, who jumped about two feet in the air. Heheh! We watched “The Amazing Spiderman” and frankly, it wasn’t so much”amazing” as “o.k”. The kid wore too much hair gel and there were some parts that made absolutely no sense, but we only paid $10 to see it, so I can’t complain too much.

Sunday morning was brunch with my parents who were kind enough to let us sleep over at their place on Saturday night. Brunch at least turned out as expected, the food was good, but we couldn’t stay too long as we had (and still have) more unpacking to do!

But despite these complaints, it was fun and I’d like to plan more trips out to the many beautiful Ontario parks soon!

Dicks Restaurant!

Hubby and I decided to check out some of the local restaurants in our new area. We already visited the Firkin Knight months ago after looking at potential places, along with Montana’s, which is a chain and hence the same no matter what part of the city you live in. I don’t mind chains sometimes, but my absolute favorite places are independently owned and free to do whatever they want with the décor and food. Dicks is such a place and has a 60s soda shop kinda vibe:

The seats were cushy and comfortable, the lighting not too bright and the music, of course, was top 50s-60s, which is great.  I already ate dinner, so I ordered the sundae while hubby had the veggie burger. The ice cream was wonderful and I’m pretty sure, homemade. After eating in dozens of restaurants over the years and being limited to the veggie pizza and/or burger, Hubby is pretty much an expert on what makes a good one and Dicks version was really tasty. (Or at least that’s what he told me, I’ll have to go back to verify for myself)

Service was a bit slow at times, but pleasant. They had some more “adventurous” items on the menu like kangaroo burgers, which made me wonder how fresh they could possibly be coming all the way from Australia, (Unless there’s some kangaroo farm around town that I don’t know about) but tasting the quality of the food, I’m sure they are still delicious.

So if you’re in our area and looking for a place to eat, skip McD’s and Dairy Queen, and go to Dicks instead. You won’t regret it!