It's true: parents are always right
Throughout high school, all I heard from my parents was how I could achieve so much more, that I just needed "a little push" and that the push "came from within". As you can probably infer, I was never academic material. An attempt to solve maths problems, understand circuits or look through the Periodic table made me want to cry. It still does.
Books haunted me in high school and continued to do so during university. The plan was for me to go into business school and major in finance - all because my parents thought I could. At that point, I would have delightedly gone into any programme at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) just so I could live on my own and take a break from the guilt trip my parents imposed on me, telling me how ungracious and reckless I was.
The second I set foot in university I got a push, all right - into a world of endless fun and non-stop socialising. I became an expert at pretending to study and found infinite excuses for my lack of concentration and napping in class. I was away from home with no one reminding me constantly that I had a future to build. It was my time to shine by going against every principle I had ever been taught. If you said "black", I'd say "white" - simply because I could. As the semester ended, though, I began to no longer enjoy the gossip sessions and watching films with my friends, as I feared what I was obliged to tell my parents: I was failing every course I was taking.
I thought I might as well stay awake until I died from sleep deprivation because my parents were going to kill me anyway. It finally began to sink in: my life was falling apart and I couldn't do anything about it. I finally blurted the news out to my parents. After they broke into a frantic state of fury and I cried for hours, it was decided; I wasn't going to go back to AUS. A few days later, my dad reconsidered his decision and felt it more convenient that I learn the hard way. I went back to university - and back on my parents' guilt trip for months. My grades were monitored constantly and my social life was restricted more so than during high school.
Lucky for me, I pulled it together. I finally realised what I wanted to do with my life. I changed my major to journalism and I exceeded everybody's expectations, including my own. I wound up on the chancellor's list for earning a GPA of 3.5 and above for two consecutive semesters. I was finally ready to become a student with set priorities.
Still, I have never gone out and enjoyed my time with my friends as much as I do now. Mostly, it's because of time management, but sometimes it's just pulling all-nighters a day before an exam.
Whichever way, I get the best of both worlds. It's now my final semester at university, and looking back, I have learnt two things. First - and it pains me to admit this - parents are always right and they do know everything, or at least more than we do.
Second, it isn't the studying you need to be anxious about at university. After all, you managed to pull through 12 years of earlier studying; another four shouldn't be a problem. It's more about the people and lifestyle you choose to be surrounded by that can make your university experience one to remember or one to forget.
I've realised that just because you're all grown up and living on your own does not mean you've seen it all. My advice to new university students is to take on the role of an audience and not an actor for the first year and watch how far that will take you.
Noor Abdalla was formerly an intern for The National
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Updated: March 11, 2012 04:00 AM