Catherine Gracey

Living Life, One Misadventure At A Time.

Architecture at UC

on February 18, 2013

Last week, I accepted an offer to study architecture at the University of Canberra. It is a three-year bachelor degree, followed by a two-year master degree. Regardless of how hard I push myself to study and complete units, I will be doing this for a while.

It is exciting to have finally made a decision about what to do with my time. Architecture is something I have been interested in for years, especially after I designed my first house. It feels like an elegant puzzle with real world applications.

My decision to apply came after I watched several fascinating lectures about architecture online. The presenters were doing some seriously cool things in their careers, and I found myself wishing I could be part of what they were creating. After my fascination set in, I asked myself a simple question: why not me?

Until recently, I had perceived architecture to be about designing cookie cutter family houses, where the greatest creativity would be in moving the occasional wall. I was blind to the commercial and industrial buildings, the museums and public spaces, and the complicated development projects. My focus had narrowed to work that would give me job security and predictability, and I am the sort of person who turns away from the secure path.

After telling a few people that I had enrolled in architecture, I quickly realised where my prejudice came from. I was asked if this means I will now be a draftsperson. I cannot imagine studying for five years, only to accept a career where all I do is draw someone else’s ideas. If I am going to approach this with an attitude of ‘why not me?’ then there is no place in my thoughts for shrinking my vision. I have to aim for the career position that I consider the highest place to go.

It is daunting to realise that I will probably graduate at 36 with a family. It is even more daunting to realise that I probably won’t be able to complete the full five years of training at a single university. Because I will probably need to transfer at some point, and I will be entering the game at a much older age, I already feel the pressure to achieve excellent marks.

I hope that life experience will compensate for the POTS as I work through this degree. I’ve learned a lot of tactics to cope over the last few years, and they are approaches that will help me here. One week in and I have had my first physical crash, but I have caught up on the week that I missed and feel confident that I will keep up with the pace.

Despite the pressure I am already inflicting on my mind and my muscles, I have been swept away by the excitement of a dramatic life change. For good or ill, I have something new to focus on and think about. New possibilities are opening up, decisions are being made, and the variables are reducing. This is already such a positive thing for me, and I am eager to see where it takes me.


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