Everyone says that university is a place where you can “discover yourself” and “define who you are.” That makes it sound like you spend all your free time meditating and memorizing Confucius quotes instead of getting tagged in drunken pictures on Facebook and setting stuff on fire during St. Patrick’s Day, which is what really happens.
That said, you do learn plenty. Here are three unexpected things that I learned during my recently completed undergraduate education.
1) Shooting a bow and arrow is hard.
I briefly joined the archery club at my school. And by “briefly joined,” I mean I accidentally shot an arrow into the ceiling and then quietly backed out of the room and never returned.
Maybe I was biased by The Lord of the Rings, which is basically a nine hour slow-mo montage of Legolas shooting Orcs in the forehead, but I thought using a bow and arrow would be relatively simple. After all, it was invented tens of thousands of years ago, before instruction manuals.
During the first archery club meeting (for me also the last archery club meeting), everyone got to shoot three practice shots at a giant wooden target. Never mind shooting the arrow. Just pulling the string back turned out to be tricky. Three shots later I hadn’t even come close to hitting the target.
Actually, I guess this counts as two things that I learned, the second one being that movie about mystical creatures fighting each other in a fantasy land that’s ruled by a magical ring probably isn’t a good source of information. Or maybe doing things in slow-mo makes them easier?
2) Geese are potentially dangerous animals
Thankfully for me, this one was a case of learning by observation. In other words, seeing someone else do something stupid and then never having to try it myself.
With its notoriously huge population of geese at the University of Waterloo, students sometimes like to play this game where they run toward the geese (because scaring small animals is apparently hilarious and not at all cruel). Typically, this turns into humiliation after the subjects friends post a video on YouTube of them running away screaming while a goose bites his or her legs.
3) Marmite is horrible. Really horrible.
An Australian friend convinced me to try Marmite, a savory spread that is popular in Australia and England. It’s apparently more addictive than nicotine and World of Warcraft combined.
It’s not recommended for people with high blood pressure due to its high salt content, so it meets the criteria for the “if it’s unhealthy it’s probably delicious” rule.
Now I have a new mystery to ponder: how does someone become addicted to a food that tastes like a combination of dead guinea pig and butt-crack? Seriously, marmite tastes like something that you’d try to trick your younger brother into eating. It’s that bad. It could be used as an interrogation technique. On second thought, it could quite possibly violate the Geneva Conventions.
These are just three of the important lessons I learned in university.
So the next time someone tells you that a degree is “just a piece of paper,” remind them that it’s so much more than that. You never know what you’re going to learn outside of the classroom.