Sunday, December 7, 2014

How Did We Get Here?

I have a single week of lectures left in the first semester of my Masters. I'm still coming to terms with that one. How did we get here so quickly?

Let's go back, to before the Masters started. Let's go back to March. In March, I was acquiring copies of transcripts to be sent off as part of my application. In January, I moved from one bedroom in the house - the largest - to another - the smallest, and ended up misplacing a few things as I tidied up. I know where my original transcripts are. Unfortunately, there are also about three thousand other sheets of paper in that one place, and that may be an underestimation.

So, new transcripts, application completed, and I waited. I got an interview, I was offered a place, I almost cried (yep, that happened) and I paid my deposit. We've reached May. By July, I know how much the course will cost. I checked my budget, and I knew then that I could afford a laptop and a camera - specific ones that I'd had my eye on for a while. I practised with the camera. I got used to framing things, to playing with depth of field. I didn't know much about photography, except that depth of field was cool.

I was still shooting in Auto. Then: September.

The month dragged by after I paid my fees. I was waiting all the time. The day of my orientation, I met up with a friend of a friend, from Germany. The orientation was boring. It rained heavily as I walked home, and for the next two weeks I was sick. Brilliant start, right?

Well, yes. The first lecture was moved forward in a timetable change, and even then I didn't meet my classmates properly until Wednesday - everyone was in, and our lecturer encouraged us to meet up for coffee after the first lecture. And that lecture was, in itself, an ice-breaker. We went for coffee, we set up our own little Facebook group, we added each other, marvelled at how many people were from Galway, and at the little coincidences that seemed to pop up. I had a couple of mutual friends with various people already, and live near one of my friend's girlfriends. (By near, I mean she's essentially around the corner. And we've never met. Whatever happened to suburban values?)

Week two, lectures started.

So, we'll fast forward through this. We've been through this, mostly. I put together my audio drama, I took some photographs that I love, I gave a presentation on the Selfie, as understood from a reading of Susan Sontag's On Photography. Pretty early on, I considered many of my classmates friends. By Halloween, having only just parted from someone's company, I was texting to say I considered him one of my best friends.That was perhaps the most embarrassing thing to happen that night, and it's not really all that embarrassing. (I did try to teach people to do the Time Warp, but I'm not embarrassed by that.)

Foggy Path
The path became clearer the further I walked.
By the end of week eight, I was exhausted, stressed out, and feeling entirely comfortable in the company of my new friends. We were also getting ready to start our next projects, including creating a new soundtrack for a video - foley, dialogue, environmental noises, music, everything. By the end of week eleven - that's where we are now - we're getting ready to write essays, and complete reflective journals. We've met industry professionals who work as photographers, marketers, a social media strategist, a videographer, to mention just a few.

I can remember it all, yet I don't understand how we've gotten this far. We're almost done with our first semester. We've had several varieties of home-baked food. We've been to see some less-than-conventional films. We have our in-jokes. Some people have nicknames they don't want. We've gotten used to using ProTools - I even composed some music for it for my group's soundtrack in our second project - and we've been dabbling in various aspects of the Adobe suite. We've had to use Macs for everything, to the point that when I return to my Windows laptop, I scroll in the wrong direction way more often than I'd care to admit.

But see, it's more than all of that. I'm now at the point of wanting to produce short documentary pieces. I want to create audio dramas, to actually release to the public. Eleven weeks ago, I thought my main focus would be on photography. And while I love photography, while I still want to pursue it, to develop (ha!) my abilities further, I'm not restricting my options so much anymore. I want to work on sound design more in the future. I want to write about visual culture, and new media. I know that by the end of next semester, I'll be looking to learn more about multimedia authoring. I'm dying to learn more about video production already.

I feel like I've come a long way with a lot of amazing people, and I'm not entirely sure how I managed to get here. That said, I love it. I love every bit of it. Choosing this course was one of the best decisions I've ever made, and I refuse to apologise for getting sentimental over it, not after everything I've done in the past eleven weeks, not after the people I've met. I can't be sorry for that.

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