Semester 3 in UNIMAS

2014-10-04 20.35.08

This is long overdue, much like most of my posts, but I felt the need to document my third semester because it marked the beginning of my specialization as a Communications major. The previous two semesters were centered around Social Science subjects, which I absolutely loved, but specializing into a major I liked was exciting.

Specializing meant I had to take subjects like news writing, communication theory and mass media– all of which I suppose is integral in being a Communications major. Somehow, it was not as exciting as I had imagined it to be. It was tedious and it felt like I had all my time occupied with assignments; in which we had to produce a campus newspaper, film videos, write scripts and sit for exams. I had forgone my mid-semester break to spend entire days in the computer lab, designing and frantically re-editing news for Madah Samarahan, our biannual campus publication. Little did I know, the workload was the least of my problems.

With such big projects that require teamwork, you begin to realize that it is impossible to get along with everyone. If you are as unfortunate as I am to end up being one of the few people who have to deal with everyone else’s subpar work, then you’re in for it. Thankfully, the news writing class was divided into two classes (thus the two separate publications) but I ended up being part of the first group to publish first, which meant we had a stricter deadline and fewer skills.

I always thought I was cut out for writing– I mean, how hard can it be? That was until I signed up to be an English editor. Worst decision ever. Having to edit over thirty articles in a short span of time only sounds harmless, but when you see the quality of articles that were submitted to my desk, you would understand why I was so close to having a nervous breakdown. I was looking forward to the rush of deadlines; rightfully so, since I love writing. But news writing is on a different level. There needs to be a particular seriousness in the news you write, not to mention several interviews to back up that one story, plus the extensive amount of research that has to be done even after those interviews. That was when I realized I would never be cut out for newspaper journalism. I think having an A-type personality did not help with the production process either, but I’ll save that story for another day.

What made this semester different from other semesters was probably the amount of hands-on work that had to be done. Many of my classes in previous semesters required literature reviews, which I’m good at, because it only requires reading and writing. In my third semester, I had produce two movies and wrote scripts for both.

I definitely learned the importance of consistency when it comes to hard work. I used to be able to just complete my assignments on time and read up at the end of the semester, and still get away with it; but this semester, it felt like there was a lot I needed to know on hand every week– information I could only get with extra reading, and shamelessly hounding lecturers.

There was one particularly interesting class I took, called Approaches to Social Inquiry. My lecturer for that course is probably one of the best lecturers I’ve ever encountered. She is the kind of person who is genuinely smart. She has shelves of books from authors like Manneheim, Marx, Weber, and Durkheim, and every time I went to see her, she was playing classical music in her office. She never needed notes to teach our classes, so for 14 weeks, I frantically took down the worst notes I had ever taken in my entire life, with bad grammar and spelling that didn’t even matter to me because she was so quick. That subject basically taught about paradigms, philosophies and the works of major social science thinkers. Sounds dry, doesn’t it? Strangely enough, that was my favourite course of the semester. At the end of the semester, I had at least five other classmates asking me for my notes, which further emphasizes my point about consistency.

It was also then when I realized that many of the people you meet in university only look out for themselves. In Form 6, our class was a support system in itself, and there was always a friend who was there to help you and push you whenever needed. In university, there was no such thing. Groupmates leave you to fend for yourself, and people are only concerned about you if you have something that would benefit them. *looks pointedly at half my class*

I also involved myself in Happenings in Sarawak magazine (Google it) as a content writer, which was a lot of fun. Meeting new (genuine) people and learning tricks of the trade outside a university-controlled environment was a lot of fun.

My results will be out next week, thus wrapping up my third semester in UNIMAS. It was stressful, but a learning experience nonetheless. The fourth semester is said to be even more difficult, what with planning PR campaigns and organizing events. For now, I have another four weeks to take a well-deserved break before going back to the daily grind of intense deadlines and inconsiderate people.

Author: Natalie Ha

I remember being enthralled with the written word ever since my parents started reading fairytales to me at a young age. Seeing the power it has to influence behaviours and mindsets, I have learned, over the years, to translate my thoughts onto paper, in an attempt to positively disrupt the lives of others. Having my written works published in various forms of media has empowered me to weave stories that people can resonate with. I look forward to the life-long process of perfecting this craft, and hope to see my work touch the hearts of many in the future. This blog attempts to do just that - and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy penning it down.

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