I feel like the typical college experience (if there even is one) is completely null and void when it comes to the life of an architecture student. First year is probably the only chance we have at a normal semester, let alone a normal year.
The first year is really introductory. Being that it is college, everyone needs to adjust to the types of classes and just college life in general. The class is a normal class (or at least was for me, at Clemson) held three times a week for a pretty short period. But after that is when everything changes.
By the second semester of the first year, studio time has been lengthened, and depending on what you chose, you had it either for 2.5 hours on Tuesday and Thursday (which is what I opted to do) or for an 1.5 hours or so on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This is the first taste of studio for all of us. The interesting this is that in this freshman studio, the teachers really have a lot of leeway in terms of how they teach. My freshman studio teacher was a grad student, and we were his first class. Though we (everyone in my studio) were skeptical about his teaching methods and why he did certain things, I think we all grew to love him in the end. He taught us a lot of great things, and one of them was independence. He would rarely tell us what to do, and instead encourage to explore possibilities, and if we didn't know how to do something, to basically find a way to figure it out on our own.
Studio is a really weird class, unique to the architecture program, because you're never really told how to do things in a straightforward way. Even the project statements are incredibly vague and leave a lot of room for interpretation. Speaking of projects, that's all we ever have. There are no tests, no papers, no studying, really. I love it -- but there are some people where that's just too many possibilities and loose ends to embrace and it's difficult. I struggled when taking accounting last year because there were notes every day and tests and all that garbage. I must say, I certainly was not a fan.
The architecture program is notorious for literally trying to weed students out of the major. This is what happens Second Year... and believe me, it was definitely freakin' hard. Never in my life have I pulled so many all nighters (35+ in the first semester alone...) or had to focus so much. You get so used to working all of the time that when you have a moment of free time, you honestly don't have a clue of what the heck to do with it. My typical weekend involved taking Friday night off, and then waking up at 8am on Saturday to immediately begin homework (most particularly project work for studio) and working straight up until 2am or so on Sunday night. It was pretty nuts.
Sure, you could fit in some extracurriculars in there, and maybe some time in the gym, and of course time to eat. But really, there wasn't much time for other stuff. I think we're all hoping that this year will be a bit easier. It all takes a toll on you... but at the same time it brings people closer together. I found this to be true at Trump last summer when we had to work the super long shifts: It sucked, royally, but brought everyone together because we were all stuck there together.
With Spain practically upon me, I don't know what to expect for this year. I can't believe it's only about 2.5 weeks away. The summer hath flown, and school is going to start up again. It's sad to leave some people behind, and I'm hoping that it won't be too difficult to rekindle the friendships and everything after being gone for a semester. Only time will tell. Of course, there are some that I definitely want to keep in contact with while I'm over there... and will do my best to do so.
I'm finally feeling the motivation to fill my head with different types and styles of architecture, and maybe beginning to find my niche of what I really like. I really want to settle into a style that works for me. I can look at something and say, 'Wow, I really like that!' but it's hard for me to create the stuff on my own.
School is hard and probably always will be for the architecture kiddies. But what can I say?
This is my life.