Moving from a private to a public institution, one learns that giving up is not an option.
I had never felt academically challenged until this year.
I completed an undergraduate degree in November 2020 at a private institution in Johannesburg; a BA in corporate communication. I chose this degree because I am interested in working in the public relations and marketing industry. I enjoyed the course, and it was manageable.
After completing the undergraduate degree, a three-year course, I decided to further my studies by pursuing an honours degree in journalism and media studies. I wanted, however, to change the institution from a private to a public one. I wanted to experience a public higher institution because I had always been in private institutions; therefore, I chose Wits University, an internationally recognised public one.
I decided on a postgraduate degree in media and journalism, because I wanted to acquire more writing and communication skills to benefit me in the public relations and marketing industry. I wanted a course that would be challenging, that would expose me to new things and pull me out of my comfort zone, and journalism has done exactly that.
My first week at Wits University was rather exciting, because I was looking forward to completing an honours degree and being in a public institution. During that period, however, I was anxious as I did not know what to expect. I underestimated the workload that would come with the course.
After almost two months, and in my first week of writing for Wits Vuvuzela, I had to pitch two stories. Both were rejected, and that is when my frustrations began. For the first time I experienced the feeling of rejection. I was emotional and felt like I was losing myself. I remember calling my mom, crying and telling her I was not coping and was going to deregister from the course. I did not see myself producing the superior, high-quality work I had been hoping to. My mom’s response was, “You are not dropping out. This is only the beginning, and with time you will adjust. Rather try and fail than give up without trying.”
Although during our boot camp we students were informed that the course involves a lot of practical work, I took this lightly. I did not expect the amount of work I now have. The journey is still challenging. I am slowly learning to adjust to my new life with Wits. I have moments of anxiety, panic attacks and being overwhelmed, which is something I had never experienced before. With the amount of work, at times I do not see myself meeting deadlines, and that is when I get panic attacks.
Compared to my previous university, the difference is huge. I enjoyed three years of my life at that institution. I had close relationships with my peers and lecturers. Although there was a lot of work to be done, I had confidence in myself and my schoolwork, and I was in a comfortable space.
With all the challenges I am still experiencing at Wits, however, I am not giving up. I am continuing the journey, which has taught me to fight for my achievements and be resilient. I have learned to prioritise the important things that will have a positive impact on my life and future. I have told myself I am dedicating this academic year to my studies. For me to have a brighter future, I need to work hard and fight to get this degree.
My lecturers at Wits have taught me the importance of tough love and being pushed to my limits. For now, I will remember the comment by American actor Denzel Washington: “Be careful what you ask for, because when you pray for rain, you have to deal with the mud as well.”
FEATURED IMAGE: Ofentse Magudulela. Photo: File
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