by syaffolee

A Newbie and High School Remembrances

Somehow, I found myself in conversation with a first-year med student. The first thing I noticed was that she’s really, really hyper. Once I mentioned that I’m a grad student going into my third year, she immediately asked me how I liked it here.

Bad question. Wrong person to ask it to. I’m one of those people who feels ambivalent about a lot of things and whenever someone asks me that type of question, I can immediately tell that they’re looking for one kind of answer. Of course, I gave her a rather non-committal reply which probably made her mentally file me under “closet depressive” but what do I care? If you’re a new or prospective student, the correct question to ask is, “how is student life here?” Then you can evaluate whether or not studying at whatever institution you’re looking at is worth it. My feelings are irrelevant. My level of happiness will not be any indication of how happy you will be.

This med student reminded me of my high school physics teacher who at the time was probably not much older than the med student I was talking to. She too was hyper–on the borderline of psychotic to be honest. While the chemistry teacher always bragged about her sons, the physics teacher bragged about her husband. She would pontificate to the class that her husband graduated high school (yes, the same high school that we all were attending) as valedictorian and went to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (or if I’m remembering incorrectly, it was definitely one of the UT schools) because he knew it would be easy to get high grades there. He then graduated in the top ten percent and went on to law school–blah blah blah.

I am not sure if the quality of the UT schools have changed in the past decade but something about the physics teacher’s narcisstic ramblings just struck me as wrong. Only a selfishly driven person who really doesn’t care about learning anything deliberately picks a school because it is easy to get A’s. If you don’t work for your grades, what’s the point of going to school anyway?

Maybe people are afraid of failure. Who’s not? But glory without any risk, in my mind, is just patting yourself on your back for nothing more than counting to ten.