We all came to McGill with a dream. That dream could have been getting a diploma from one of Canada’s best schools, or it could be finding out how many shots of Jaeger we could do before we passed out. Usually though, your university fantasy has something to do with the faculty you chose. And while I wind down my university career and prepare to be a broke wannabe writer living at my mom’s house, I’d like to go back and examine the dreams of our first year selves by faculty. So without further adieu…
Once upon a time…
There was a reasonably smart person. This person had subjects on which they were the authority. Renaissance politics? Check. Philosophy in the early Holocene era? You got it. This young go-getter could not be stopped when it came to debates on Russian peasant culture in the 1800s. They dominated discussions on the origins of the accordion.
When this fresh-faced first year walked through the Roddick gates (and then walked out again because the Roddick gates are not the fastest way to anything) it was with confidence that their chosen subject was the way to go.
Throughout that first year of raised hands in 400 person lectures and buying more scarves than any one person could theoretically wear, our hero grew. They got good marks, not A’s though, lets not get crazy. They impressed TAs with their fervent dedication to the 6 weekly readings; I swear one time the professor nearly remembered their name.
Someday they thought, someday I will get my degree and I will be the smartest philosopher/historian/political scientist/English-er around. And they would be, they would be able to reference authors like no other, argue ecumenical policy in 1900s like a champ.It’s just a shame that unless they decide to extend their school days, their story ends with disappointment.
They never did find their chosen career; they got a decent job in another field, at a regular company. They made okay money and lived in a decent apartment. But they never stopped hoping that someone in the 21st century would need a Philosopher, and on that day their ship would finally come in.
There was a person who liked money. Like, really liked money. I mean we all like money but our hero in this story had a fascination bordering on fetishistic. They heard the stories, they read the books and decided that unless they were one of the chosen ones like Zuckerberg or Gates then the way to get that money was to journey through the lands of Bronfman.
Our protagonist felt important there. They wore suits when everyone else was wearing jeans. They were giving presentations while others slogged through conferences. They were cracking cases while everyone else was cracking coursepacks. They learned about money, business, how to make more money, how to be the best at handshakes, to win meetings and various other business things.
It was tough of course. But our hero had a goal. They knew that by going to three mandatory classes a day they were forging their better future. They knew that if they could survive the test of will that is Business Stats they could do anything. The riches of the world would be theirs!
Our hero got a job! It was boring and tedious and forced them to do even more school, take even more tests. But it was worth it, there were promotions to achieve, more money to acquire. Love can come later, travel is secondary, the money, that’s what’s important. This is why they worked four years in university; this is the job that leads to the job that leads to the job that leads to the job that will make them happy!
But when our hero’s story ends, it ends not with true love or a dream achieved, but with introspection and doubt. A black card in the wallet, 4 sports cars in the garage; this is happiness right? They did it! But when they look at their phone, the only numbers they see on speed dial are the upscale sushi restaurant down the block, Enzo; their personal tailor and Intimate Encounters, a *ahem* business specializing in discretion. Its not all sadness, our hero goes to sleep every night knowing they will have plenty of white collared blue shirts and double-breasted suits to keep them warm at night.
There was a person with dreams. This hero didn’t dream of money, jobs or success. That was all secondary. This time our protagonist wanted to change the world. Their heroes weren’t Gretzky or Jordan, but Salk, Tesla and Banting. To reach this dream, they ventured to the nations of Wong and Rutherford, to the newest, shiniest lands in this world of McGill University. They sought Science.
It was hard, as they knew it would be. Nobody who ever changed the world did so by slacking, but this seemed oppressively difficult. There was so much work, so much time to be spent on minutia. Our hero was not dissuaded however, they knew that success is forged in adversity; this work was necessary. They had to learn, they had to gather the knowledge necessary for their breakthroughs, but they still glanced at the calendar and wondered when their Eureka moment would come.
It got disheartening though, going into the lab at 3am to check data, sacrificing their weekends for analysis. They had been told they would see amazing things, awe inspiring experiments but all their work ever resulted in was disappointed sounding lab reports lamenting that their results didn’t match their hypothesis. Maybe it will be better when McGill springs for new equipment, I hear it’s finally going to happen next semester.
When graduation rolled around our protagonist was elated. No more restrictions from the classes! No more assignments to be marked on! It was time to truly achieve something! But the more time our hero spent in the real world the less hope they had. In the 21st century there was bureaucracy, there was corporate investment and agendas had found their way even into the scientific field. The reclusive labs of the scientific greats; home to the greatest discoveries were increasingly uncommon. And Newton had already developed Calculus.
Our hero got a good job and they made good money. While they had hoped to be the next famous scientist that children would read about and get inspired; the next Newton, Einstein or Degrasse Tyson, there’s nothing wrong with being a Lab Tech. But every time our hero ran a sample they pined for that one in a billion chance that they would discover something incredible.
There was a person who wanted a job. Like really wanted a job. This hero had already heard the Arts fairy tale and wanted to dodge that like the goddamned plague- (sorry, Fairy Tale! Fairy Tale!) This hero had heard tales of those stuck in the purgatory of poor employment opportunities and they wished to avoid a similar fate.
They had examined the world they lived in and decided to embark to the lands of McConnell and Macdonald (yeah McGill really didn’t think that through) to become one of the builders of the future.
They of course had their dreams too; once our hero had dreamed of being a famous artist, then they thought they could end up on the silver screen. but they figured it was better to have a guarantee for their future.
It was hard, amongst the hardest things one can do in the world we call McGill. It took nearly all their free time, a large portion of which was dedicated to perfecting their handwriting for crib sheets.
It tested our hero’s dedication. When their friends were done their training and off having fun and pursuing their dreams our protagonist had another year of work to do. They knew however that it would be worth it in the end; they would get their job, they would make their money. The world of the future would need them.
And they were right! Their years of work paid off! They got a high paying job and never worried about their future even once. It didn’t get easier though, there’s a reason they got paid so well; the work was tough, they worked long hours and it required constant study and research to stay at the top of their field.
While our Artistic protagonist might envy the Engineer’s security and paycheck, our heroic engineer occasionally glances out the window and wonders what would have happened had they not traded their dream for security.
In Computer Science
There was a hero who learned how to code and make apps.
Everything was fine and his life was great.
Fuck that guy.