I'm back to enjoying Chinese instead of thinking that learning it is a horrible untenable burden I'm a fool to subject myself to, free university courses or not. In a complete lack of coincidence, it seems I enjoy it more when I have more time to focus on it and actually prepare for class instead of completely ballsing up every time the professor asks me something (which is a lot because there's only two people actually showing up these days) and, oh yeah, when I actually show up for class myself (which I haven't done in weeks due to travel, illness, time zone mix-ups, etc.).
A week ago I'd been toying with the idea of dropping out after this course but now I think I'll persist. I'm finding being back in L--- trying but one thing about this place is there's fuck all to do, which gives me time to run and work out and get back a tummy I haven't had since I was smoking a pack a day in the skinny part of Europe, and it also gives me time to learn Chinese, and once I breed I probably won't have time for either of those things no matter how culturally, erm, calm, I'm finding this place, so carpe diem, right?
Also, I guess I'm having a moment of appreciation for getting free university again. My parents paid for my undergrad. I just worked during the summers to pay off accommodation and stuff like that, but the key issue was that I didn't leave it with any debt and I didn't have to hold down a job and study at the same time, at least not extendedly - I switched majors and did a couple of courses in Toronto during my first summer while I was working, but I was 19 then and could do anything, except talk to boys. And then I did my masters in France, where the tuition was just a couple hundred dollars, and since it was a thesis masters there wasn't a shitload of classes and I managed to work at the same time with only a minor mental crisis or two. Working and writing the thesis at the same time - well, that really sucked.
But it gave me a bit of understanding of how unreasonable or evil the demands on Anglo-land students are now (and would have been in Canada back in the 90's too, including for me if I hadn't had supportive middle-class parents, even though tuition was thousands of dollars cheaper then). Them leaving university with so much fucking debt, with years or decades of debt slavery ahead of them without even a paid-for house to show for it at the end of it, and being told by wankers "well, just hold down a job while you study", as if that was such a fucking simple proposition, and as if your average undergrad student could get a job that would pay even a fraction of its tuition after covering books and the other necessities of life that we all have to pay for once we don't live with our parents anymore. I mean, if they could make that much money, half of them probably wouldn't be going to university in the first place.
And the other fucking germ of genius I've heard spreading around is to study where you grew up - assumedly continuing to live with your parents - which is a bit of a kick in the arse for your parents, I suppose, and also suggests a misunderstanding of what university is about. I studied modern languages, general humanities, and international relations. Those are three things I couldn't have studied at my local university. Medical schools? Legal departments? Engineering? Teacher's college? I suppose all those people should just stay home in their shitty little podunk towns and study American Lit or forestry instead? Fucking hell, man.Why not just bring back feudalism while you're at it so we all know where we stand?
There's no misunderstanding of anything, though, of course. The transformation of aspirational students into fit young wage slaves is almost certainly a matter of policy. I've been spending a fair amount of time mulling over wage slavery, having signed up for six or seven years of wage slavery myself by buying this house, and putting myself into the situation where it'll be a minor disaster if I lose my job in the next three and a half years. Wage slavery seems to be a necessary condition for economic life as it's understood in Anglo-land, including Australia (noting, though, that this is a place where conditions for citizens going to university are actually pretty great; they haven't quite rolled back all of Gough Whitlam's good work here yet); it keeps salaries down for long hours without having to go to the political trouble of letting too many immigrants in.
It makes me quite bitter, you know. Now that there are all these great ways to grow food and make stuff, in the developed world - hell, in the whole world - we've never been so well equipped to be idle and to be able to pass most our time doing nice things, like learning things or making things or spending time with our families. And instead we live in a society where people work 40 hour weeks as a matter of course, and don't even know what they'd do with themselves if they were idle, and spend their free time watching reality television and fretting about angry young people having peaceful demonstrations about corporate greed and how their student loans are fucking up their lives forever, and other people live with famine and malnutrition.
Anyways, it's making me appreciate someone else (work) paying for my Chinese courses, which aren't expensive, this being Australia and students not being fucked up the ass here yet, but are still more expensive than I'd like to pay for myself. That was my point, several paragraphs ago.