Introduction to Art and Design Student Blog
The students in Matthew Craig's Foundation class, Introduction to Art and Design, share their personal narratives and experiences at Tyler School of Art this Fall 2015 semester.
By Noelle Tweedie & Erin Emory
It’s nice to walk down the green hallway of Tyler and to look at new work made by students. At a school filled with so many young creatives, new artwork is always being displayed around the building. While it's enjoyable to be able to view art that our peers are creating, not too many pieces have quite the impact that one installation is currently having on the students at Tyler: the swings. This interactive installation has been intriguing students for the past two weeks, drawing people in to sit, enjoy a break from work, and just have fun. The swings are located at the far end of the green hallway and are hung strategically on opposite sides of the stairwell. Tons of students gather to try them out. Many socialize while waiting for their opportunity to get their own chance on them before having to pass them on to other students. What is seemingly a simple idea has actually been attracting large amounts of passersby and evoking a joyful response.
Debatably, art is successful when it triggers an emotional reaction, which, in this case, is childlike giddiness. To remove the swings from their traditional element, such as the outdoors, in some type of park or playground, and put them inside a workspace adds to the sense of wonderment. It was definitely a pleasant surprise for students to show up to classes one day and find swings inside of their school. The piece is successful not because of its visual appeal but because of the public’s physical interaction and response to it. In the past, there have been interactive installations on display in the green hallway and while they’ve been successful in drawing students’ attention, nothing this year has compared to this piece in terms of popularity and use. The swings are successful in that they were designed to be used not just by one person, but two. There's a conversation that happens between the participants when using the swings. The installation is free to interpretation but one could say the swings are a break from the work and stress we all experience as young adults in college. Or, that they’re a momentary retreat back into the simplicities of childhood. The swings are objects that exist and function in the everyday world we live in, but it is the simple happiness and escape from stress that they symbolize that makes them art.
Questions of a Commuting Transfer Art Student
By Grace Walton
Am I an artist? Am I cut out for art school? Am I good enough? Am I good enough to be at school? How do I prevent my personal life from interfering with my schoolwork? Where has my inspiration gone? Where is my drive? Where has my time gone? Why can’t I just focus on helping myself? What have I made? Have I made anything I’m proud of? What have I learned? What should I be learning? What classes should I be taking? How do I know what major is right for me? How can I cope with my learning disabilities? How can I cope with my learning disabilities without medication? Where did all my creativity go? Why was I more successful last year? Why is this new school such a hard adjustment? Is the counseling at school any good? Is counseling even worth it? Do I even have time to see a counselor right now? Why do I procrastinate so much? Why do I constantly push myself too far? Why do I constantly not push myself hard enough? Why do I have to spend so much money on art supplies? How can I make time to grow as an artist? What does it mean to be an artist? Why can’t I sleep? Why am I always tired? Am I wasting my parent’s money if I’m not sure of my future? Is going to school right now a good idea financially? Should I take a semester off? Is school for me? How do other people succeed? Do I work too much? Why do I have two jobs? If I quit one would I have more time for my art and for school? Why do I feel so guilty for wanting to move away from my family? How do I make time? Why don’t I think the same way as my peers? Why do I commute? Why is my backpack so heavy? Why did I transfer? Is this the school for me? Am I always going to feel this way? Can you loose your creative ability? How do I pull myself out of a creative rut? What happens if I fail? What have I accomplished artistically so far in my life? Why do I compare my art to others? Why do I compare myself to other people? How do other students have time to make art outside of school? How can you start a piece of art and finish it? Why do I never give myself enough time to complete projects? How do I find the time? How can I balance my life? Am I always going to feel one step behind? Am I ever going to feel successful? Is photography something I can see myself succeeding in? What would life be like if I could live at school? Would I be more productive? Would I be happier? Would I create more art? Would I be more confident in my art and myself? Would I consider myself an artist? Would I be happy?
A Day in the Life of a Working Student
By Aram Frounjian and edited by Matt Hoban
It’s 5:14 am. I have been staring at my phone, waiting for my alarm to go off for the past ten minutes. This, unfortunately, has become the norm for me. I am usually up well before my alarm has a chance to even make a sound. I have yet to get out of bed, and I already have a half dozen things racing through my mind. Did I memorize all of my German vocabulary words? Is that assignment for Mosaics due today or was that for next class? Do I really have to get ou… I catch myself falling back asleep.
When the clock reads 5:15, my alarm goes off and I drag myself out of bed and start getting ready for work. I work at a certain bed/bath retailer, and am beyond enthusiastic about it. I have been employed there for over three years now, and have been a full time employee for the past year. My routine is the same every morning; in the car by 5:30, stop at Wawa to grab my breakfast and lunch for the day, and then it’s off to work we go. I pull into the parking lot at about five of six and wait for one of the managers to arrive. My job is a simple one, but can get complicated very easily with everyday hindrances (call outs, putting out merchandise left over from the night before, etc…). I work primarily in the stock room, putting merchandise away and pulling out items with which to replenish the storefront. I also work on the sales floor, assisting customers, escorting couples filling out a bridal registry, and even checking customers out at the register.
I work a total of five days a week, Monday through Thursday and Saturdays. I’m there until 3 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and until noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Today is Tuesday and I leave at noon. By the time I actually leave the parking lot it’s already 12:15. I drive to Temple University three times a week, the trip taking anywhere between thirty five to forty five minutes. Today it's a bit longer due to an accident on the Schuylkill. It also takes some time to find parking around campus, causing me to park a couple of blocks away. Luckily this time around, I find a premium spot just behind Tyler.
I have three of my five classes today: Intro to Visual Studies, Mosaics II, as well as Intro to German. I am on campus until 7:20 pm and I don’t get home until five of eight. I have a couple of hours remaining in my day to work on my blog post for my online course and maybe sneak in an episode of The X-Files on Netflix just before bed.
It is very difficult trying to keep up with things. Juggling a full time job and going to school full time is by far the most challenging thing I have attempted in my life. I have held jobs before while in school, but not an all encompassing one like this. Throughout the day, I find myself struggling to stay awake because of my out-of-whack schedule. My girlfriend even snapped a picture of me the other night, passed out on the couch while watching a movie at 8pm, which makes me feel awesome about myself. People ask me why I kill myself trying to juggle two full time schedules. I can’t help but laugh when I respond, but I go to school so I can quit my job. Working in retail is not something I want to do for the rest of my life, but as of right now, it’s a necessary evil. The challenges of being an older student, along with staying awake, include paying bills, which now include tuition, and having my own health insurance. Working full time gets me the health benefits I need and helps to alleviate some of the financial stress. I have come to realize that the struggle is indeed real, but will pay off in the end. And thus is a day in the life of this Tyler student.
By Jermaine Ollivierre
Work, school, and then life! In order to keep this "machine" (metaphorically speaking) running smoothly, Work has to take precedence over school and your social life, to some degree. I am only speaking for the non-traditional students. It's a trial and error formula maintaining all aspects of life. Balance is vital, persistence is key, and motivation is essential whenever striving to achieve a level of success.
Finding the perfect job while going to school would be ideal, but unrealistic for some. I'm employed at a community college an hour away from my school, so planning everything out is important. I work as a custodian overnight from 10pm until 6am. There is no time to relax after finishing my shift. Having to commute for morning classes takes a certain mindset. I have to mentally prepare myself to do this everyday.
Getting to school is just one piece of the puzzle. Once in class there is another mindset I have to have. I take education very seriously, so when I'm in class I try to push myself to be the best student I can be. This means long hours, studying, and researching various subjects. Being a fine arts major is a very challenging path. Being an artist isn’t just a subject at school, it's a lifestyle, so when you have outside elements invading your realm of art, it can derail some followers of this path. Persistence plays a major role when enrolled as a full time student. Writing essay papers on your phone, while on your way to school is unavoidable; I call that time management. While making a painting or sculpture, I have to develop a loose concept, at the same time keeping fragmented paragraphs of other academic assignments.
Being positive and staying motivated is a must when balancing school, work and a social life. There is a lot of missed time with family and friends. But on the plus side of things, I am in an environment to make more friends in school. But I usually do not have a social life during the school semester. It can be frustrating missing family functions, but I believe that my work ethic will reward me in the long run. If I'm not at the college on the weekends then I am home thinking about current or upcoming projects, due dates and other miscellaneous things pertinent to school.
There are limits to what I can and cannot do, it's my job to understand that and to avoid pushing myself past those limits. It's exciting having a full load, and I'm aware that these are priceless moments. I know following dreams is easy to vocalize; however actually following an idea and applying dreams to real life, that is something else. My recipe to succeed may only be applicable to me, but it took many trial and error moments to prioritize and use my time effectively. Finding the balance in any situation is important. If you know what you want in life, having a plan of attack is crucial. I attack life with a certain focus and I persevere through any situation. Never quitting no matter how many times I fall, and keeping myself motivated. It's a hard task to complete but the things you strive for are rarely simple to obtain.
The Endeavors of a Working Tyler Student
By Hannah Fisher
Change is a factor that I have always been accustomed to in my life. Something that I've learned through change is that things only get more difficult as life progresses. Going into my junior year of high school, I moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. I went from knowing a class of four hundred people to not knowing a single person in a high school of four thousand students. When I went to college I knew all of the thousand students. Now that I transferred to Temple University in my junior year, I only know a handful of the forty thousand people that go here. To add on, I have to balance six classes with an insane amount of time-consuming art projects and two jobs. Let me tell you, with my jobs and little amount of time to eat or sleep, I am still broke.
The key thing that I force myself to become familiar with is time management. A basic week day is the same: I wake up and go to class from 9:30 to 10:50, work in between until 2:00, then my last two classes are from 2:00 to 6:20. Just when you think I’m done with classes, I’m not. I'll usually stay during studio hours and work on a project until 9 or 10 at night. Once I get back to my room I study or work on a paper for one of my General Education courses. My better days consist of eating a full dinner that's not cafeteria sushi and coffee. On my weekends, I often think I'm going to be able to sleep in, but rest assure, I don’t. I either have to wake up early to go to the studios or I have work at my second job. It's all just a vicious never ending cycle and if you feel exhausted reading this then you've only had a small glimpse of what I have dealt with.
One of my jobs is for Temple Contemporary Gallery. The gallery job is like heaven to me. Some of the responsibilities I enjoy are helping with the installation of new work and keeping myself educated on current pieces on display. I also get to open the gallery, which is oddly satisfying. I also received the basic techniques of how to make a book or notebook with the publication studio we have on site.
One of my favorite experiences was working with a printmaker from Detroit. During his visit he had to make 500 calendars for October that were going to be sent out. When a student was helping print one of the second layers, she pulled a calendar out of the machine and realized the text was upside down. She said she did it “wrong". The artist, Aymish, said, "Well, you got the ink onto the paper and that was your objective, so it's not wrong. You accomplished what needed to be done." I don't know why that stuck with me, but I liked the sound of art as "not wrong", instead, there is an objective that you need to accomplish. I took that quote back to a class project. The original design of the project changed about three or four times, which frustrated me. However, when I thought back to what Aymish said I ultimately accomplished my objective and I can't be mad about that.
The other job I have is a lame shoe store job, and like any retail job everyone is pretty much rude all the time. I wasn’t suppose to work at the store in Philadelphia, but with the price of art supplies, hygienic needs, and just basic spending money, it’s not enough nor realistic for a student to have just one job. I will admit that working at the gallery is better than other jobs. The gallery is more in my element. Instead of telling people, "Sales exclude clearance and fragrances,” I get to be in an environment that I love and where I understand people.
Transferring has been the scariest thing I’ve done. My life is an insane around the clock job between classes and work. Ultimately, it is something I'm happy to be doing. The amount of coffee in my body should be illegal but getting to manage my finances as well as my time, so that all my schoolwork is done, is a newly discovered talent of its own. It puts a lot of responsibilities on my shoulders but it’s beneficial towards my future.
My First Day Of School
By Alessandra Schito
In coming to Temple University I had one friend, my roommate. I am a sophomore transfer student from Howard Community College in Maryland, and before my mom told me about this school, I had no idea that it existed or what its reputation was. I had never visited the campus before coming to Temple, so I had no idea what I was getting into. I arrived a couple of days before the first day of school to move in and find out where my classes where. I became very nervous. The school was much bigger then I expected and I was extremely nervous about making friends.
My first day began with a 10 a.m. art history class. I woke up at 8:30 a.m. because I was so nervous. I made myself breakfast and then proceeded to pick out my outfit to impress the other creative art students. It took me about forty-five minutes of trying on clothes before I found the perfect combination for the first day of school. I finished getting ready and I walked to school with my roommate until we had to separate to go to different buildings. Then, I was by myself.
I walked inside Tyler. My heart was pounding outside of my chest. I showed my ID to the security guard at the front desk and proceeded to walk down a long hallway with bright green walls. I passed by the heat from the glassblowing studio and took a peak inside. It looked intense and my nerves got even worse. I walked down the flight of stairs at the end of the hallway to where the art history classes were. The space resembled a basement. I went through the bright yellow doors and walked until I reached my class. I was fifteen minutes early….dang. What do I do now? I immediately looked down at my phone to look like I am busy. I went through all of the social medias once, and then twice, to see if anyone updated anything in the three minutes since I had last checked. I looked up and saw that there was also another girl standing outside of the class. She looked friendly. Her curly hair was pulled back in a bun, she was wearing very tomboyish clothes and carrying a black portfolio. I spoke out, “Hey, are you in this class?” She said yes and my heart got super excited. I had met a friend and her name was Mary. We continued to talk until the class began and we proceeded to sit next to each other. I became more relaxed knowing that I had met a person. Our professor was young. He told us that his favorite era was the twentieth century, but we were going to focus on art between the prehistoric era up until the thirteenth century. We weren’t going to be discussing his preferred era and he would be learning about this early art along with us. When he spoke he had little confidence in himself and one could tell that he didn’t know much about the artwork I didn’t feel like I would be learning much.
After class, Mary and I went to get lunch. I’m a vegetarian and I have limited options when it comes to food. We walk to the student center and I make my own wrap at one of the food places. Then, we walk back to Tyler to sit on one of the tables outside. Mary tells me that she has just had her wisdom teeth removed and cannot eat much, so, she brings her own lunch. We stayed and talked until about 11:50, because both of us had class at noon. We went back inside Tyler, show our IDs, and walk up the stairs to our next class. My class was at the end of the hallway, so we had to part ways a bit before then. My next class was Soft Sculpture and I signed up for this class because it was one of the few that was not full. Again, I was about ten minutes early and I see that there is a girl standing outside the doors so I asked her, “ Hey are you in this class?" The conversation was short and when we walk in we don’t sit next to each other because there weren’t any two seats available. There were two teachers for the class. We went around introducing ourselves and saying one fun thing we did over the summer. Most people in the class are seniors and went on the Rome study abroad trip, so they talked about going to Italy. The girl that I met outside also went to Italy. The teachers decided to split the class up. Half of the class went to one teacher, and the other half with the other. The girl I met outside the class ended up being in my group, so I sat next to her. She told me her name is Jodi. I told her that I was super Italian and that I wanted to hear all about her Rome trip. After class we got lunch together and she told me about her study abroad experience.
At 4:00 p.m. I had my english class. I left Jodi and walked to Anderson Hall. I was early and chose to sit in the center section, all the way on the left. A girl came and sat next to me. I noticed that she was wearing a Boyer shirt. I and asked her what her major was and she told me she was double majoring in dance and neuroscience. I responded that I was a painting major and we introduced ourselves. Her name was Jocelyn. During our english class, one of the students felt that the teacher was contradicting himself and proceeded to call him out on it. The whole class joined the discussion and supported either the teacher or the student. The room suddenly became very hot. Eventually, the teacher had to stop the discussion because class was over. I left with an unsettling feeling in my stomach. I became nervous about what the teacher might expect from us in our assignments to come.
After class, I walked home with Jocelyn. We discussed what happened in class and how nervous we were about what our teacher might expect from us. I walked to Morgan Hall with her and then we said goodbye to each other, leaving to go back to our apartments. As I walked back home, I started to feel happy as I reflected back on my day. I felt that I had met a person in each of my classes that I could potentially become friends with. I looked forward to meeting all new people the next day, too. Temple University did not seem like a large, intimidating school after all and in the end I am very happy I decided to come here.
Why We Make Art and How to Find Yourself (Art as Escapism)
By Adam Franklin
Art is now and always has been an escape from the real world. The reasons people drink excessively or fall into drug addictions are the same reasons mankind chooses to make art and, for some, dedicate their life to their art. When an artist is creating, the world disappears around them. While art is influenced by personal events, when an artist creates, they are completely detached from the outside world. Their anxieties and concerns of their lives are temporarily suspended and they become totally lost in the act of creating. As an artist develops their skills and the act of making becomes more defined, this feeling grows and becomes addictive.
Ultimately this feeling is why we, as artists, choose to dedicate our lives to what seems at times such a fruitless career. What we sacrifice in financial gain we make up for in personal satisfaction in some manner or another, whether it’s spiritual, personal, or otherwise. Art is the ultimate escape. The high lingers and then ends with a crash to reality that has nothing to show for it. Art gives the same euphoria with a tangible memory attached so that, while every piece may not be a Mona Lisa, they still are planted in the mind of an artist.
Perhaps because art can be an escape or because the rest of the world scorns those who choose an emotional release instead of a physical one, all artists receive ridicule for their craft and, in turn, make them question themselves and their acts. Some even make the sad decision to not pursue it professionally or in as large of a capacity as they once may have, despite their love for their craft. They turn their back on a much healthier escape than they would find in alcohol and drugs.
I’d be a hypocrite to say I never fell for the other forms of escape along with or in lieu of art. Art is a beautiful and sad release that can’t always be reached. Even the most creative people in the world lose their drive from time to time. They instead turn to a bottle or a pipe to fill the void that they can’t fill otherwise. They long to make wonderful art again. They hurt and want to make art to not hurt. In turn, they are more hurt they can’t make art. The pain of life combines with the pain of withdrawal from art like an addict in a dry spell.
Thus enters the darker half of art as escapism. As the artist grows emotionally and technically, so do their feelings that they’ve suppressed in their younger years. The fear and anxiety of youth sprouts to the surface. Humans panic. These feelings and responsibilities we mock and shirk become unavoidable and it becomes impossible to not want out. In trying to escape we turn to art, alcohol, drugs, and other physical releases that make our minds become primal and blank. Nothing scares us or keeps us up at night. For in those moments, a surface is reached and we feel like we can live without fear for the duration of that high. When we are not in these stages we become scared because we know that we simply ignore our problems and hide because life is hard to handle. Not being in that stage of euphoria is frightening, which is why, as artists, we become sadder when we become unable to create.
So what can we do as artists to prevent this sadness? Is there a state of constant creativity? Is such a thing possible? I haven’t found those answers yet and honestly I don’t know if I ever will. Until then I’ve chosen to surround myself with like-minded people so that maybe together we can answer some of these questions. I may never be fully happy and I may never stop running from my fears but for the next few years I plan on staying in Philadelphia and trying my best to make sense of it all.
Transition, Cold Coffee, and Loan Shark Promises
By Reuben Wilson
The last few years of my life have been filled with changes. From working as a dishwasher, up to a waiter, and finally to a line chef. Or, from working as a wedding photographer, to supporting large number of children as a counselor, finding myself as a carpenter, and lastly, falling into the universe’s good graces and getting employed with a tech company. Needless to say the last few years have been inconstant in the best ways. Through all of this, my experience with changing schools, administrations, and academics has defined me. If you blink, these life events have a habit of blending all together, but uneventful transitions are preferable in my experience. Some of us manage or are fortunate to transition well. Others? Not so much.
Change is the stuff of life, but transitioning well is the art of life.
Just like in writing, a smooth transition requires the correct set up, follow through, and conclusion. Smooth change requires solid connections and avid preparation. So I found (and still find myself) internally interviewing, asking myself how do I prepare for the biggest life, culture, intellectual change yet: Tyler. Perhaps this transition, albeit uneventful, is not supposed to be smooth. Maybe we are supposed to crash against the shore like angry waves until we fizzle out, either in success or in failure. Maybe foundation year is designed to separate the wheat from the chaff, to discern those who belong from those who can only yearn to.
At times I think this is the design.
Transition is all about the facility with which that change is exacted. This is no secret. When switching from one school to another, it is apparent how small issues can derail an academic journey. So then why were there certain systematic hurdles, as a transfer student, that immediately hindered us and caused us to go from the tranquility of Bach, to the favored intensity of heavy metal. Why were those students, whom needed most to be able to register for classes first, asked to wait to register until all classes were full? What happened to the Temple University that welcomed my father as a working student, and was able to accommodate his work-life balance? My experience has been anything but accommodating thus far. Here lies my personal conflict. My job is paying for part of school. I have committed to a certain number of hours, yet Tyler is inflexible when creating a schedule. The free time I have is relegated to work, not homework, and I have existed on a 7-11 schedule for the last 6 months with little to no personal time. I think this is like the meme of the dog sitting in the burning room. “I’m fine. Everything is fine.” Sometimes I feel a bit like a wax candle that has been placed a bit too close to the heat of the fire.
I think its going to take me a very, very long time to come to terms with the fact that this transition, while not anything I haven't seen before, this transition will be rocky, hard, cold, and sleepless. In a lot of ways this transition into Tyler from a non-art world feels like an arranged marriage. We have some idea of the partnership we are entering, but we can’t really speak to the character of the other party. All that is concrete is that we have just relinquished control and are most certainly along for the ride. What projects are tasked upon us is not up to our ambitions, and that’s where the tension truly lies. It’s like swimming in the water with great white sharks and being unable to see below.
Note to reader: Rollercoasters may induce vomiting.
In a lot of ways this reminds me of that moment before a race starts. That moment when you toe the line on the grassy field, people are still, yet, pushing for prime position. Although academic and not athletic, there is most definitely an air of completion to the whole thing. As you toe the line and await the gun, a calm comes over. You have to go through with whatever crazy 5k, 10k, 1000k race you've just signed up for. All smiles, the hand signed up willingly. These sorts of moments are the great jump-off points in life, I think. Starting a journey you know will be hard and will certainly claim a few lives due to late night study sessions and stress. Is there something poetic to these crash-and-burn or great success moments? Moments where something stands to be lost or gained?
This transition to me reeks of permanence. Here at Tyler, this is not a smell that I’ve ever associated with change. Every prior change has been coated in the sweet smell of mother’s perfume, loving, and optimistic promises, glittered with hopes and dreams and entirely open-ended. This change into an artists life smells like a freshly inked 25 year mortgage that seems almost too good to be true. When you sit in the bank waiting for the approval they serve you half rock muffins that are questionable at best and lukewarm coffee. But, everyone is all smiles and well meaning so you are encouraged to drink the Kool-Aid and overlook obvious signs of danger. Outwardly, art school appears calm and fun, but internally there is clearly a battle raging between time management and workload. This is, honestly, a huge fear of mine. It’s like any movie where the suburban housewife is smiling while holding some bloody instrument of doom behind her back, dripping red with blood. I think it also falls into that same vein of the most evil of all evil is the evil that does evil but sees no evil. Right? Either way this transition, with its lack of true support, endless waterfalls of work, and pressure, is lining up to be the best choice of my life or my biggest folly.
This is my only fear.
Overcoming Your Fears: The Hurdles of Transferring
By Daniel McGovern
Applying to college puts a ton of pressure on teenagers. If you’re a student who’s reading this, you probably already know this all too well. The social expectation is that you apply to college in the beginning of senior year of high school, when most kids are 17 or 18. At that time, I had only been working for less than six months at my first job as a bagger at a grocery store. Yet, I was supposed to be deciding on where to spend tens of thousands of dollars and at least 4 years of my life in order to get a degree that could potentially lead to a career that I’ll have for the rest of my life. It seems like a lot of pressure on such a young person, because it really is. Though, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Most people have enough support and determination to make it through. For me, that support came in the one, short phrase I heard every time somebody asked me where I was going to school, “Well, if you don’t like it, you can always transfer.”
After months of putting the decision off, I decided I wanted to try to get into art, specifically graphic design. My top choices were Temple University and Kutztown University. Temple has a much better reputation, but even with the $8,000 per year scholarship that was offered, Kutztown was less money in the end. So I went with Kutztown. I would be more comfortable on a secluded campus. I’d be getting a very comparable degree in Graphic Design and I’d be saving lots of money. I figured that it couldn’t be that bad, and, hey, if I really didn’t like it, I could always transfer, right?
Well, turns out, I really didn’t like it. My first year was a very lonely, isolated time. It’s not all Kutztown’s fault. I’m a very introverted person, but I just could not be there any longer. So halfway into my first semester, I decided to transfer to Temple.
At the time I applied to transfer, it had been only a few months since I was accepted at Temple for freshman year. I figured there would be no problem getting accepted because I had only done better at Kutztown, beating my 3.75 high school GPA with a 3.9 in my first semester. Plus, it had only been a couple of months. I was ok with paying more money for Temple if I would be happier there, and I was very glad I was offered $8,000 per year, which made the decision a lot easier. Then the bittersweet news came: I was accepted to Temple as a transfer student, but my scholarship turned out to be $2,000 per year because of the cap they have for transfer students. I was devastated. Missing out on $6,000 for 3 years meant I’d be paying an extra $18,000 to go to Temple. In other words, I’d practically be paying for an extra year. I didn’t think my parents would allow me to transfer because of the money. Arguments about transferring went on for weeks until I finally convinced them. Now it was official. Starting sophomore year, I’d be living in an apartment in Philadelphia attending Temple’s art program at Tyler.
I was both very excited and very nervous. I was never a city person, which is part of the reason I had chosen Kutztown over Temple in the first place. My brother had gone to Temple, and he’s told me quite a few horror stories of things he’s seen in his neighborhood while living there. Now, I’ve been living here for two months and I’m warming up to the city. I’m living with my best friend, which makes my situation a lot easier, although city life still makes me nervous. I live one block away from a police station, yet just last week there was an armed robbery two blocks down, on the same street that I take to get to class. Now, this is something that every student is aware of, but coming from a school where I was surrounded by miles of cow fields, it makes me very nervous walking back from class at night.
In the end, applying to college and then deciding to transfer has genuinely been the most stressful part of my life. But I’m doing better now. I feel more optimistic at Temple. It’s a big challenge in a big city, and for once I feel excited. I’m learning things I never thought I’d learn, like plasma cutting, welding, and making plaster molds. The city and the campus are more lively and exciting. Just two weeks ago my friend and I took the subway to see a concert for one of my favorite bands, something that wasn’t even remotely possible at Kutztown. Sure, if I could do it over again I would have chosen Temple from the get go. But that’s what life is about. We make mistakes, we feel scared and powerless, but most importantly, we challenge ourselves. Life is all about taking big risks to make a better life for ourselves, and that’s what we, college students, are all doing. We have this crazy opportunity to go to school, to get into a job that excites us and it’s scary, but worth it. You’ve only got one life and you can’t let it pass you by while you find the easiest, most comfortable option. You’ve got to seize your opportunities while you can. You have to challenge yourself and, most importantly, you have to push yourself to overcome your fears.