• Hannah Cartwright

University Life Part 5: Changing Courses

Changing Courses

My first year of University flew by. Before I knew it, I’d finished all my work for the year and received all my grades back. Mostly 2:2s. Not too bad but I couldn’t say that I produced any work I felt proud of. I kept reminding myself that first year didn’t count towards my final grade; that it didn’t matter what I got, as long as I tried harder next year.

I’d chosen my modules for the next term; Experimental Film and Film Philosophy. Neither of them excited me much, but they sounded the least boring out of all the options. We were told the module guides would be released later in the summer, so until then I had no work to do.

As the summer wore on and term crept back up on me, I started to think more about the impending workload. It filled me with dread; the thought of being back in those seminar rooms, feeling lost and confused as the fifteen other students around me discussed in great detail how the lighting really enhanced the emotion of the characters and how this was the best of the director’s films so far and how that other film he made back in the 70s just wasn’t as good because of the DoP. I dreaded those two hours each week, finding any excuse not to go. Sitting in that stuffy room feeling like the dumbest person in the Uni, wondering how I even got accepted.

I still remember struggling through my first Film essay. It was on 2001: A Space Odyssey. I couldn’t tell you what the film was about, let alone the essay. I didn’t make it past the first half an hour before I fell asleep. Unable to face a second attempt, I based my essay off of Google searches and Wiki pages. I think I just scraped a 3rd for it. I would sit at my desk struggling through each sentence of that essay, glancing up at my overflowing bookshelf, wishing I could write about  a book instead. It wasn’t until midway through the summer holiday that I realised I could.

It was a boiling hot day in the middle of July. The school holidays had just started and the little café I worked at was busy. I stood at the sink washing dishes, my fingers pruned and pale from cleaning up the last of the lunchtime rush. My boss, Anne, came in with another full tray of dishes. ‘I think that’s the last of them for a bit. Should be able to catch up before the afternoon tea and cake rush comes in.’ I took the dishes from her and set to work, praying that this really was the last of them. My hands were in desperate need of a break.

As I washed, I thought more about Uni and prepping for second year. Then I thought again about how much I didn’t want to do that. I’d much rather read a book. Why hadn’t I picked English? Then I really could have read a book. I put the last plate on the drying rack, grabbed the nearest tea towel and then decided. ‘I’m going to switch to English. I don’t want to do film anymore.’ Anne looked at me, confused. ‘Can you do that?’ I’d never looked into it before, but I was sure I could.

As Anne predicted, we had about forty minutes before we even saw another customer. In that time, I messaged round friends and family for advice on switching courses. Most responses came back in support of the decision. Some admitted their confusion at me not picking English in the first place. My sister’s words of support came through as ‘What?! No, you’re just having a hangover breakdown. It will be fine. Just go home and eat something then you’ll feel better.’ I laughed. In less than five minutes, I had emailed my lecturer on Film asking how I would go about switching to English. And two weeks later I was sat reading my first course book, prepping for the new term. It was Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and I detested it. But anything was better than 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Now in my final year of English, I’m so happy that I made that choice to switch. My grades are now numbers I can be proud of. Sometimes even worthy of an Insta post.

Top Tip: It’s okay to not like the course you picked! It’s okay to admit that you’re not enjoying it and that you don’t want to do it anymore. Whether this means switching course, switching to a different Uni, or dropping out altogether – all of these are okay! If you do feel like you’re on the wrong course or at the wrong Uni, contact your personal tutor or your course leader and arrange a time to go and speak to them. They’ll be able to address all of your concerns and point you in the right direction. I contacted my course leader who put me in touch with the course leader for English. Between them, they were able to help me make an informed decision about switching and the whole process took less than two weeks. It was the best decision I ever made!

Click here for part 1!

Click here for part 6!

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