I spent several hours today on the University of Ottawa campus. I was there to write the Public Service Entrance Exams – along with about 2,000 other public service hopefuls who took over the campus today.
I always find something a little nostalgic and even romantic about being on a university campus. Maybe it’s the young, hip kids walking around, the autumn leaves, the books and buildings housing libraries and learning... I’m not sure, but I know that whenever I’m at a university I want to curl up in a library with a thick tome or sit under a tree and sit under a tree and discuss philosophy.
I remember in high school being told that these would be the best years of my life – and finding that a very depressing thought. High school was something to overcome, not to hold on to. University however, there was something of a golden age to that which I recognized at the time.
I felt incredibly lucky to get to spend my time thinking, reading and writing. Sure some classes could be dull and the workload intense at times, but I loved that world. I loved learning. I loved the start of a new year, the buying of new textbooks, the first notes written down. I even liked the late nights and study sessions, the dates in computer labs and reading rooms. I had favourite nooks in libraries, study corners where I could lose myself in ideas and words.
University was also a time of new friendships and encounters. It’s only natural really – you put a few hundred or even thousand young adults together and it won’t take long for ties to form of attraction, friendship, jealousy, betrayal, longing, annoyance... I can’t say I have remained close to many of my university friends, but I find myself thinking of them from time to time.
Certainly today, when I was walking through the campus and saw young girls walking and talking together, couples holding hands, friends sharing coffee and cigarettes, I felt like I was remembering my youth. I sound old saying that, and yet I actually felt young again – although in a sense that I was only passing through.