08 Jan This has confirmed my decision to travel with my degree
I don’t know what I expected life in an ofﬁce to be, but I ﬁgure I got it about half right. It is much quieter and more serious than uni, as everyone has their own work that they have the motivation to do right there and then because obviously it’s their job, and they get paid. Uni students and school students are world class procrastinators and I was surprised to ﬁnd that that it was almost hard to concentrate in the ofﬁce because it was just too quiet and the silence made me sleepy; I actually liked the idea of doing the work at home and not at work. There isn’t the mindset in the ofﬁce that while doing work I could listen to my ipod; it was painfully loud when I spoke to the other intern in the ofﬁce so I tried not to because I was worried it would distract others from doing their work. So it took some getting used to the silence and the easy-to-doze atmosphere. Even now I wouldn’t say I’m used to it. I miss the freedom to come and go and talk to people and listen to music.
As a uni student there is much more freedom to do whatever we like in terms of designing a building. The uni teachers encourage this especially in ﬁrst year, and even in second year, basically to allow us to explore ideas as much as possible without the constraints that architects learn very quickly in the real world. I found this out when we had to put together a set of precedent photos from any architectural project, and I was choosing some wacky designs that I would have chosen in a uni situation, but that isn’t really the case in the real world because there are limitations that we haven’t been told to follow yet at uni such as money, suitability of the design to the function of the building, what the client wants… I suppose I’ll learn more about that soon.
In general, architecture seems to be a profession where you would learn more on the job rather than in a classroom because it’s very subjective and useful to take different aspects from all the experiences you’ve had and put them into your work…if that makes sense. There are obviously helpful things we learn at uni like all the programs; autocad and other architectural programs. What surprised me was that the company that I’m interning at and others they deal with seem to use the controversial application ‘sketchup’. Sketchup is something that teachers at uni either hate, and refuse to let students use it, or they don’t mind but they think it looks tacky so they put your marks down anyway. I personally don’t think it gives buildings any favours in terms of aesthetic looks but its really easy and convenient to use, so I guess that’s why its used by ﬁrms.
In the ofﬁce I found the people more welcoming than I expected. I didn’t really expect them to warm to the idea of a second year uni student hanging around the place but they’re really nice and I think they’re happy to answer questions. They know my position because they’ve been there and therefore know that as an architect it’s the best way to learn. The practical aspect is very important for this design-artsy profession because there’s a lot you can’t teach someone, such as what colour to make that and what ‘looks good’. This whole experience has conﬁrmed my decision to travel a lot with my degree. It’s actually exciting to know that there are lots of expat architects here who work on architectural projects even though they’re not technically qualiﬁed architects here in China.