Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Time of Your Life

My cousin is in the process of making some big decisions right now. She's trying to decide what to do with the rest of her life, in other words she's deciding which college or university to apply to and what to study. She's strongly leaning towards medicine but also toying with the idea of becoming an archaeologist. I wish they told them at career councelling that an 18-year old is hardly expected to know what to do with the rest of their lives when they probably are unable to tell you what they plan to do next month.

I do hope she takes into account the length of her career, including the time it actually takes for her to pay back the student loans she'll have amassed unless she's lucky enough to have someone pay her way through school or she works her little arse off trying to make enough money to pay for rent, phone, food and most importantly, study materials.

My father retired at the age of 50. He was one of the last one in the armed forces in Finland to be able to do so, they have now raised the retirement age to 55 and are planning to raise it a bit further if at all possible. The general retirement age in Finland still is 65, which means that my mother, who is 3 years younger than my father, still has 5 years of hard work ahead of her. She's a nurse in a nursing home, which means it's a lot of lifting, walking, washing and feeding. She loves her job, don't get me wrong, but I'm left wondering should she really be lifting someone a lot heavier and taller then her, all by herself.

I'm sure my cousin will choose what feels right for her right now, but what if she changes her mind? In my experience, parents aren't always all that pleased to hear that their children aren't sure this is what they want to do and are going to take a year out. I wish I had taken a year out. I almost did, but then i got pushed through the same career tube we all did; graduate from secondary school, apply to colleges and keep on studying for another 4 years at least. I'm lucky in a way, because I landed into a job I actually love doing even though it's not strictly speaking what I studied but a lot of what I learned is applicable.

Not everyone is that lucky. I friend of mine spent 2 years in university studying molecular biology before realising she hated it and walked out to much protesting from her parents. She's doing a business degree in retail now and loves it, but just goes to show how wrong you can get it the first time around.

I truly admire people who go back to college at an older age. I doubt I could ever do that. Even though my grades were always slightly above average, I'm not an academic person. Studying does not suit me. I retain information if it's something of interest to me personally, otherwise it's in one ear and straight out the other one. I didn't really study as such even when I was in college, I merely skimmed notes that made very little sense to anyone else. I still graduated, by the way. I have a BBA in tourism, marketing and business administration of all things.

I do miss the college life that went on outside studying. We were constantly broke but didn't care. Somehow we always had money for drink and cigarettes, which goes a long way to explain why we were all so bloody skinny back then. Necessity truly is the mother of invention, as we soon noticed. We saved the water from noodles to cook pasta in the following day, it still had some of the flavour in it. Mind you, chicken flavoured pasta isn't the greatest of delicacies but drown it in ketchup and you're good to go.

Ketchup could be watered down to no end if it looked like it might run out before the government's monthly allowance came in at the beginning of the month. One of my friends worked part time at a burger place and stole endless sachets of ketchup to tide us over the last few days before we were in the money again. Another friend took a roll of toilet paper with her from college every day and never ran out of it in the 4 years of college.

I worked through college, which meant I had some money at my disposal, but that said, I was quite sensible in the end and spent most of it on books and other things I actually needed to finish my degree. What was left over was spent on luxuries such as fresh bread instead of the day-old "reduced to clear" one, cheese and maybe a new bottle of ketchup. Happy days.

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