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Too Many To Be Silent

I know I’ve been completely AWOL lately… forgive me, varsity has just been a bit of a crazy shock this year but that’s a story for another day. Even though I should be studying right now, for my exams which are a week away if I might add, there’s been a lot going on lately especially with regard to sexual, physical and emotional assault and how such matters are kept silent. So because of all of this I would like to start off this post with a quote that I recently read, I am not sure who said it and so if anyone knows please let me know.

“No one actually thinks all men. Just too many men. Just enough men to be afraid. Just enough men that all women have experienced it. Just enough to make it a social problem and not a personal one.”

I found this quote specifically enticing because it is relatable to such a vast majority of people and I feel as though most of those who read it resonate with the words on a personal level. As I have mentioned in my previous posts, I live in South Africa, and recently a 22-year old female, Karabo Mokoena, was murdered by her boyfriend following a fight between the two. This event has been all over social media, on most news stations, it has managed to reach international news. This is what lead to the hashtag #MENARETRASH making its way throughout social media. I came across #MENARETRASH for the first on Facebook, and this was prior to me hearing the story, so upon first glance, I was a bit taken aback by what I was reading. The reason for this is because of the blatant disapproval toward men (as a whole) and I’m sure for many this hashtag gets your blood boiling thinking “not all men are trash.” If so I refer you back to my introductory quote. Yes, it is true that not all men are trash, that not all men  will abuse women, that not all men will rape, that not all men catcall or treat women as objects, it is just too many men. So much so that I guarantee you that most women who read this have been subject to some form of it, whether it is unwanted stares from men, whether it is them feeling uncomfortable if their shorts are slightly shorter than anticipated or whether it is receiving a hostile response for not wanting to respond to remarks like “you’re so much prettier when you smile” or random men shouting out to ask for your number. The Men Are Trash hashtag has resurfaced many other cases in South Africa of a similar nature and as a result men and women throughout the country have been able to voice their opinions through this hashtag, including me. In many countries all across the world (and specifically my own… I emphasise that), assault has become somewhat of a ‘norm’ and this terrifies me right down to my core.

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If you turn on your TV now or watch something on Netflix, I’m pretty sure that there is some show or movie with a character who has experienced some form of sexual abuse. There was an article that I read a while back (sorry I can’t remember where I read it or who wrote it) which displayed the disapproval toward the use of rape as a backstory for many characters. Therefore giving the character a sort of ‘survivor’ appeal. Sansa from Game of Thrones was one of the examples used. Recently there has been a huge amount of controversy regarding 13 Reasons Why (there is a spoiler coming up so if you have not seen it yet and still would like to maybe skip this part) not only for the issue of suicide but also that of rape. Before I go on, I am not condoning the use of assault to make a fictional character seem more appealing and alluring but I do believe that sexual assault is a reality in our society which needs to be made aware of (obviously in a reasonable manner).

Now I just need a moment to talk about Hannah Baker’s rape in the series 13 Reasons Why. If any of you have seen this you will know that Hannah did not explicitly say ‘no’ or physically fight/push Bryce (her rapist) off her. Following this, there have been remarks saying that because Hannah did not say ‘no’ it, therefore, would not constitute rape. Others have said things such as she should have fought harder or pushed him off, that had they been in her situation they would have tried harder to get away. So does that mean that it was her fault? Does that mean she could have stopped this rape and because she did not say no she therefore consented?

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All of these things just contribute to the rape culture that exists all around us, the prejudice and victim blaming. All of these things contribute to why only 1 in 9 rapes are reported in South Africa. When an individual reports assault or rape, it is first and foremost for them but after that, it is providing others with the comfort and security for them to know that they are not alone. That they do not need to be ashamed because of their circumstances. Not reporting assault is only leading to the idea that rape is okay and the way women are treated is okay because there are no consequences.

EWN recently posted an article on #MENARETRASH and why it is so important. The article basically discusses what most of us already know but still neglect to acknowledge. However, I do still urge you to read this article as it does open one’s eyes to why so many people are personally affected by recent events.

http://ewn.co.za/2017/05/12/why-the-hashtag-menaretrash-is-important

In addition, here is a really nice article by Shannon Ridgway on what rape culture is all about if you are struggling to grasp the concept.

http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/03/examples-of-rape-culture/

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Rape culture goes further than just rape. And although (recently in South Africa) it does include abuse from partners, taxi rapes, rapes which have occurred in university residences and even the sexual abuse of over 20 school boys… the list goes on. Rape culture is also an issue of misogyny and patriarchy. This is not something that is solely directed against women from men, even if that may be the case a lot of the time. It is the fact women are told not to wear dresses that are too short or shirts that reveal just a little too much because if you do and something happens “you’re asking for it.” It is the fact that my mother has told me on countless occasions not to wear certain clothing because of those around me and that I should just accept it because “that is the world that we live in.” It is the world where instead of teaching individuals that rape is wrong, women are taught not to get raped, to not walk around at night, to carry pepper spray around in your bag and having to feel unsafe walking alone. It is all of these things that make it seem okay for a rape culture to exist.

So at this point, this is my contribution. I know it is not a lot, but I am ready for more and more people to open up and talk about the issue at hand. I am ready to take a stand and I want my voice to be heard so much so that others feel safe and motivated to speak up too.

If you have written anything similar on this issue please leave the link below or message me separately. If not, I would still love to hear your thoughts and views.

So, for now, let us break the silence!

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Does The Movement Move You?

I’m feeling inspired. It’s raining outside, I’m snuggled under a blanket looking out my window and listening to a great playlist. Is there anything more blissful? But before I go on, I must warn you that I am about to get slightly serious.
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I started this blog around 4 months ago and it has been hard work keeping up with writing, but one of the many reasons that I started this blog was because of my views on politics
(specifically the ones at my university), and surprisingly I haven’t made any posts about politics. I’ve started writing them and spilling my thoughts into blank documents but the furthest they’ve gotten is the folder on my desktop called ‘blog.’  I find these (the more serious topics) are the hardest posts to get right, mostly because my thoughts and opinions are always changing! I mean come on, my writing was meant to help calm down the thoughts in my head!? Well, that turned out great.

I mentioned the politics at my university being a contributing factor to starting this blog. For those who don’t know I go to the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa and as you may be aware, this is where the ongoing Fees Must Fall protests have taken place. And let me tell you, every time I talk to someone new about these protests or read the news about the marches, or go onto campus and see broken windows and burnt buildings… My views change. When the protests started in October 2015 I was busy studying for my matric finals and so I didn’t necessarily have the mental and emotional capacity to focus on anything else. However, when I started university in January 2016, I was exposed to the Fees Must Fall protests for the first time. At this time, I fully supported the students’ movement (which consisted mainly of peaceful marches) as it angered me to think that money was a determining factor for who got a tertiary education and who didn’t. It bewildered me to think that there are so many bright and intelligent students who are deprived of an education because they could not afford it.

 

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As the year went on, the protests became larger and students grew braver. I remember being evacuated from a library when protesters entered the library spraying fire extinguishers everywhere (this was not the only time I was evacuated from a library or
some place on campus on account of protests). My support still resided with the movement. We would go about our usual days sitting in lectures hearing the faint sound of singing and marching throughout the campus as we learned schizophrenia, morality, god and justice through the law.

Through this all I still strongly believed in the cause because as I sat in my lectures with so many students on their phones not caring about what the lecturer in front of them had to say, all I could think about was the student sitting at home not being able to go to university or the student working every free hour they had to scrape up money for their university fees.

A student throws a rock at a South African police car during clashes over high tuition fees at Johannesburg's University of the Witwatersrand

Soon protests and riots became more serious. In September 2016, Blade Nzimande’s announcement for an 8% fee increase seemed to be the tipping point. This moment was when the protests were the largest I had ever seen them. A sea of protesters and reporters engulfed the campus, turning universities into war zones rather than a place of learning. For the next month or so I stayed at home watching the news and having endless debates with my family as to whether this is the right way to go about things. The news showed us how police and protesters battled it out on campus, the sound of rubber bullets and stun grenades echoed through universities. The situation continued to escalate as rocks were thrown at police and the buildings, computer labs were flooded and more buildings were set alight. When access to campus was restricted, riots moved to the streets where looting began. The only thing that ran through my mind was ‘how could burning libraries possibly aid free education?’ Many other thoughts ran through my mind for those looting in the streets were not the same people I had supported at the beginning of the year, conveying their course through powerful and peaceful marches.  Each day protesters became more and more frustrated about the stagnancy of the fee issue. Government just watched as everything unfurled, a student’s cry for help soon became more than that. It became an explosion of bottled emotions and feelings of the history in our country, for some, these riots were not just about fees anymore.

The 2016 academic year may have ended, but this did not mark the end of the fee increase issue for late last year universities across the country announced an 8% fee increase for 2017.

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This issue is one that hits close to home for me. It is something that myself and those all around me are exposed to in our everyday lives. It has forced many to become numb to the sound of marching footsteps in unison, it has caused many to learn the pain of a rubber bullet to their bodies and others to find normalcy in having to leave lecture halls and libraries in the middle of the day for their own safety in order to avoid riots.

Before I end this post I would just like to point out that I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinions and these are just my thoughts. I am not here to slander anyone nor criticise actions that may have been taken. I have a lot to say about this particular movement and what I have written here is just some of it (merely the tip of the iceberg) and for this reason, I may have a follow-up post. Until then I would love to know what dome of you may think about the protests or just protesting in general?

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Taking a Step Out of My Bubble and Into the World

I’m happiest in my own comfort zone. The little bubble that surrounds me and protects me from the unknown dangers of new things. I guess I do occasionally try things like that one time where I tried to learn to play the guitar or speak french. I mean I can play a few songs on the guitar and say a few things in french so it wasn’t a complete waste of my time, but I didn’t stick to them. As soon as it became too much for me, I stopped. Always making excuses such as it is too much to handle for me in between school and university.

Who isn’t scared to try new things? I know I definitely am, but I’m working on that. I’ve always been all for trying new foods but not much more than that. So now I’m trying new hairstyles … for about 6 years of my life, I had the same hairdo… long, think and most of the time bushy. After that, I decided to cut it all off! Well, not all off, just up to my shoulders but that was a big change for me! Other than my hair I am trying new styles of clothes, going to new places, being more outgoing in social situations (which I must say is one of the hardest things for me to do).

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I’ve even got a job! Okay, it’s just a part-time student job which I haven’t even started yet (but it’s still something). Building up the courage to actually apply for this job (tutoring) took me about two weeks. The phone number just lay under my contact list and every few days I would open the contact, look at it and it would just stare right back. Eventually, I just went for it! I contacted the tutoring service and received an instant reply to email them my CV (which is what I did). A day or two later I was already meeting with them, and every minute since I got the message to meet them was filled with stress and anxiety. Regret was running through my head as I wished I had never applied for this job because if I hadn’t then I wouldn’t be feeling this way! Thankfully they are used to dealing with students and so our meeting was informal (which was really helpful in my state of mind). The next day I received a message saying that there was a grade 7 learner in my area that needed tutoring for English, Afrikaans and mathematics, naturally, I accepted. Soon after accepting, another wave of stress and anxiety hit me! This time I was worried that I had forgotten how to do basic math and say things in Afrikaans (it has been over a year since I did either of these things). Fortunately enough there’s a little thing called Google and after a little while of testing the waters of grade 7 math, English and Afrikaans I felt ready to tutor!

I got in my car and found the house (which was huge just by the way). When I rang the buzzer the person who answered sounded a bit confused as to who I was and why I was there??? Nonetheless, they opened the gate for me and upon meeting the learner’s 9df60a4a1d1ac179771fe246726f6cbamother, I could tell that she was surprised to see me which surprised me! She told me that her son wasn’t even home and that she did not plan to meet me today! So I had just rocked up at this house ready to tutor, except there was no one there for me to tutor!

This mix-up wasn’t  the end for me as we agreed that I would start tutoring next week, and so I made my way back home. Wanna know how many times in that awkward situation I had wished I did not decide to become a tutor? Every second since I rang that buzzer!

Trying new things is really hard for me, but as you can see I am working on that. Things may seem better in your comfort zone, knowing how things may turn out and what to expect but trust me that’s no way to go about every day. In my little experience of trying new things, I’ve found that this really helps with learning more about yourself, what you like or the type of person you may be. I mean it’s obviously not a breeze walking into new things (like a tutoring job) but it’s our experiences that shape who we are and without such experiences how will we know who we are? So I’m going to work through the anxiety and stress and not give up on the things that I try!

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New Year, Same Old Me?

I’ve never been the type to ponder on about new year’s resolutions and the whole  ‘new year, new me’ spectacle. Honestly, at the beginning of this year I had absolutely no resolutions and no intentions to make any drastic changes to my life (I know, I was really girl-lazy-motivation-sleep-favim-com-2098174unmotivated!). But it turns out, the new year finds a way of creeping itself into your life and beckoning you to make some changes. It first started when I had to register for university (I’ll be starting second year in a few weeks) This kind of gave me a wake call, kicking me back into gear and showing me how many things I actually had to do! Once I managed to register and choose my subjects for the year I received my timetable (it’s quite crappy if I could just point that out). This is where my first (unplanned) new year’s resolution came into view.

And before I start listing my ‘non-new year’s resolution resolutions’ just know that they may just be the definition of cliché, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!

As I was saying my first resolution:

Getting good marks in university (not just passing this year) and managing to keep up with work!

This became my first resolution because my first year of university is where I chose to test the waters to see what university was really like, I started off last year treating it the same way as I treated high school. I assumed that it would be fine considering I did fairly well in school… oh but how wrong I was and that managed to turn around and bite me in the ass! In order to avoid this, I’ve decided to work harder this year.

Now my second resolution is even more cliché than the first (if that’s even possible) and if you haven’t figured it out already, here it is:

Join the gym (or don’t) but get fit and healthy

This one, I must admit, has been something I’ve been trying to do most of last year, and new-years-resolutions-e1450848734897sorry to disappoint but I failed countless times. It was really strange how I wasn’t getting any fitter with the crazy amount of walking that I had to do in university just getting from the car park to class in the morning (not to mention that the whole walk is uphill)! Though it may be possible that all my stress eating managed to cancel out the effects of all the walking. The good news is, I’ve already started working on this resolution! This past week I’ve been getting my yoga on doing a bit of running and I really feel a lot happier doing it. I’ll be going to a yoga studio for the next two weeks (it’s only affordable for two weeks because of new year’s specials) and after that, I’ll be joining the gym… and for real this time!

And my last resolution is more something I would like to do just for myself and for experience… which basically makes it a resolution I guess. My last resolution will therefore be:

Get a job!

Just like the gym, I’ve tried this one out last year but (just like the gym) it didn’t quite work out. Getting a job is goddamn hard! It’s hard because no one really wants a part-time student working only certain hours of certain days and those who do want students already have students hired! But this year I have a plan and that is that I am going to become a tutor (I have the number and everything) So now all I have to do is call the number, which I must admit is a lot harder to do than I expected.

It turns out that for someone who isn’t into new year’s resolutions, I have quite a few resolutions to work on (and hopefully stick to) this year!

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A Crazy Case of Wanderlust ✈︎

I want to see the northern lights in Norway, I want to walk under the many hot air balloons in Cappadocia, I want to sit in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris eating baguettes and drinking wine. I want to swim with turtles and feed elephants in Thailand, I want to climb to the top of a great ancient Mayan temple in Peru and admire the sea of trees below me. I want to stand on the grounds where so many before me stood, where history was made and where civilisations began.

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After spending about the last 4 hours watching travel videos on YouTube, it turns out that I may have a crazy case of wanderlust. I’m practically ready to pack my bags right this second, get on a plane and travel somewhere. Somewhere I can meet new people, learn new things and experience different cultures. But… there is one thing stopping me right now, university. I don’t think it would be my brightest idea to just pack up and leave in the middle of getting my degree. I’ve only just made it through my first year of university (exciting right!?) which means that I am one year closer to getting my BA law degree in 2018, which is closer than I thought especially when I look at how quickly 2016 flew before my eyes. So now I’ve conjured up this idea that I’m going to save up for a break after I get my degree, whether I am backpacking, hitchhiking or volunteering, and I’m not talking about an eat, pray, love journey where I find myself (although if I do end up finding myself I’ll be sure to let you know).

I know some people may ask, “why not take a gap year after school?” Well firstly that boat has sailed and I personally feel…felt? that I was not ready emotionally and on a level of maturity. I mean it takes a lot to pack up and leave straight after high school, not knowing what you want to do or where you want to go. I feel that I need the experience of university before I embark on such a journey, where I am able to become more independent and comfortable with being me and being on my own. I am honestly so happy that I chose to study this year because I really love it! University is such an eye opener, it exposes you to so many new things and new people (and I know… travelling can do the same). I find that university has really helped me build some sort of path that I may want to follow. And yes this path is always changing direction and some parts are missing making it really hard to follow at times, but before university I was lost. No path in sight, no direction of where to go nor where I wanted to be.

I am blessed enough to say that I have travelled overseas before… quite a few times if I’m being honest. I mentioned before I always enjoy experiencing and learning new and different things. I find that travelling allows us to step out of this little bubble of naivety that we sometimes find ourselves in. Travelling shows us how unique the world really is, teaching us cultural differences and making us aware of what is happening outside of our own country (a different type of experience to that of a university and so that is why I can’t necessarily compare the two). I personally find this exciting being able to see, feel and taste different cultures of the world (whether that means eating the best spring rolls in Vietnam or the strangest ice cream, beans and noodles dessert in Malaysia… I kid you not, there were noodles in my ice cream!).

 

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And you thought I was joking!

 

This hunger for adventure (not beans and no20161125_112223odles flavoured ice cream) is what makes us quit our jobs to travel the world and to take gap years after school or university. So this means that it is time for me to get out my savings jar (since I have not yet opened a savings account) and to find a job (which I’ve recently learnt is really hard to do when you have no experience) to sponsor my year off after university.

 

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When I Grow Up I Want To Be …

“What do you want to do after school?” “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I’m sure that most of you have heard those words before. Been pestered with these questions since you were a kid, when all you wanted to be was an artist because you drew the most badass landscape with a sun in the corner of the page (you know the ones I’m talking about). Maybe you were going to become a singer because Singstar told you that you could sing just as well as Avril Lavigne or Beyoncé. You wanted to be a palaeontologist (even though you couldn’t pronounce the word) because you watched Jurassic Park and why wouldn’t you want to bring back dinosaurs?

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As you got older your ideas of what you wanted to be changed. You may have wanted to become a teacher because your primary school teacher was the loveliest person you knew and you wanted to be just like her.

Next you wanted to be a pilot or a video game designer because is there anything cooler? Imagine flying through the skies visiting all the places you could ever dream of or creating the next best game that all your friends would played!

Well you’re now mid-high school and teachers and adults are always throwing around the term ‘your future,’ telling you how crucial what you’re doing now is for your future lives and future jobs. Your friends are all starting to get ideas of what they want to do after school. The guy who sits next to you is going to become a best-selling author, your best friend dreams of becoming a tattoo artist, others wanted to be engineers, doctors, journalists whereas some plan on designing apps and buildings.

I never had a clear idea of what I  wanted to do for most of high school (all through high school if I’m being truly honest). There were always ideas here and there but I could never really picture myself doing any of them ‘for a living.’ I think that the idea of  having to choose to study something that I could potentially be stuck with for the rest of my life was what scared me the most, and I think that to certain extent it still does.

tumblr_o0u1mi7yaw1uvctgho1_500I went through everything that I thought I would enjoy but nothing stuck. It became stressful (sometimes annoying) when adults would ask me what I want to study or what I wanted to do after school as my answer was always the same “I’m not sure yet, but its okay I still have time to decide,” reassuring both them and myself. Sometimes I’d receive uncertain nods and smiles but others were nicer, telling me that its okay because they are in their 40s and still don’t know what they want to do. I always liked those answers.

My matric year had arrived and there was still no solid plan. I wasn’t taking a gap year because I didn’t know what I would have done in all that time and I knew that I wanted to go to university. So I started with my applications (the WORST time of my life), I honestly hated it! All the questions about myself, my school, my background and most importantly what I wanted to study. I know it sounds quite unreasonable to have started applying to universities when I didn’t necessarily have a clear idea of what I was going to study. But it made sense to me and I am quite thankful that I did it. In the end I applied for a few things: a general Bachelor of Arts (with a hope of doing psychology); a Bachelor of Arts with a law major (as  well as an LLB, depending on the university); a Bachelor of Engineering Science in Biomedical Engineering (I was rejected mid-year because of my Grade 11 marks) and lastly a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry.

tumblr_n3frd1kxs51txw72oo1_500Eventually I came to decide that I either wanted to do a general BA or a BA with a law major, thankfully I was accepted for both of these. Now, it’s around a year later and I’ve almost completed my first year of studying a BA (law). It was tough and a lot of the time I wasn’t sure that a belonged…

I was so uncertain that I even considered applying for another course after my first semester because I wanted to do something more ‘technical.’ I planned on doing this by getting into the Biomedical Engineering course which I was rejected from. If that did not work out I would do a BSc, my thoughts were that one of these would ‘challenge’ me as I put it (I was wrong about this because law is challenging me more than enough!). So I did my research on the course and it intrigued me even more than before but, after speaking to people at my university I learned how difficult this degree actually was. It consisted mainly of circuits, and as high school physics taught me this is one of the things that I so deeply loathe. I was also informed that a lot of students who are studying this degree struggle to pass and keep up. This information didn’t completely make my decision for me but it certainly helped, there were a lot of other factors adding to the aversion of my degree. I wasn’t doing as well as should be in my Introduction to Law class and this was definitely demotivating as it is my major. Another reason why I wasn’t satisfied was because I had made the mindless mistake of choosing to take English as a subject! I didn’t like English in school so I don’t even know what made me think I would enjoy it in university!?

So I made a deal with myself, in my second semester I would try and drop English. I was also starting a new subject in the second semester as part of my law course (Law of Persons). The idea was that if I could somehow get rid of English, up my game in Introduction to Law and Law of Persons interesting or see it as something that I would enjoy, then I would stick to what I was doing. If not, then I would once again consider applying for something else.

Along came the second semester. I struggled to change English to something else as other subjects were too full or clashed with my existing timetable. I later learned that I was able to drop English without picking up a new subject because Law of Persons had been added to my syllabus! This was some of the best news that I’d heard in a while. My nerves were running high as I sat in my first Law of Persons lecture, would I enjoy it or not? Well let me tell you, I did enjoy Law of Persons and its currently my favourite subject! I’m still working on doing better in Introduction to Law, but this turn in events has given me the reason to choose to stick with what I’m doing.

I know there was a lot of talk about me in this post but what it has showed me is that it is that its okay if you don’t know what you want to be when you’re older or if you don’t have a solid plan like some of those around you. Its also okay if what you want to do may be considered completely irrational by others because at the end of the day you should be waking up everyday enjoying what you do! I’m still finding my way and figuring it out, I may have made it over this hurdle but I know theres many more ahead waiting for me.

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A (Class)Room With A View

Imagine you’re sitting in class in high school and one of your teachers is lecturing the class about something we’ve all heard before. Now focus on what this teacher is saying. Are they telling you about how important it is for you to study now so that you can get into university? Are they telling you that it is consequential for you to excel in your work so that you will be accepted into a good university? Are they telling you about how the things that you are learning now are going to help you later on in life? Or how without this what is there for you to do?

Now lets jump to your final matriculant exams. The exams that are lead out to be there most important thing in your life. For without them there is basically nothing you can do? Just think about how you’re sitting there finally applying all the theories and formulas that you have been taught throughout your high school career.

You’re now in your final exam, the last exam that you’ll ever write in your high school career, the last of the exams that you spent hours, days, months, studying for and it has all added up to this moment. This final moment, for you to spew out these words and numbers onto the paper before you, because if you don’t in time enhanced-23519-1393520528-17you may not pass, you may not get accepted into the university of your choice, you may not be able to study the thing you’ve always dreamed of, you may not get that distinction which you do deserve. But then the invigilator tells you that time is up and that you need to put your pens down because thats it. Your whole school career has built up to this moment, to write down everything you’ve learned over the past 12 years in a 3 hour exam, because thats how we determine your worth.

A month or two have passed and your results are being released. You stare at the symbols and numbers that tell you what university you go to or what job you can apply for. These marks hold the power to tell you whether you can study what you want in the university of your choice. And once you’ve made it to the lecture hall in a university, those symbols… those numbers, they don’t matter, no one cares how many A’s you got, whether you got 60% for your favourite subject or if your marks were the best in your class. You’re in a whole new ball park now.