In light of receiving my college diploma in the mail this afternoon, I felt inspired to write about my completion of Full Sail University.
Nestled in an old strip mall in Winter Park, you’ll find Full Sail University. Winding through parking lots, a variety of Chili’s style restaurants, and the local car wash with scantily-clad women who aren’t just washing cars… I studied for twenty months straight (twenty-one actually, a trip to Cannes was tucked in there too) with two different groups of eighty people. I learned about the art of lighting, writing, directing, editing, sound, makeup, production design, and the history of filmmaking.
I’ve known what I wanted to do since I was twelve years old. Watching movies, making movies, taking photographs, it’s all very teachable through the internet. Having six years of just researching and practicing my craft put me in a place where in school I felt very bored. Please, don’t misunderstand me. There is no replacing what working on set with real movie equipment feels like, and Full Sail exceeded my expectation in that respect. In layman’s terms, Florida taught me how to adult more than it did about making movies.
At 18, I had an apartment in a new place. I had a car, clothes, a computer, a camera, and enough cooking supplies to open up a soup kitchen. I learned how to live, not financially, but physically, alone. There were opportunities for “life moments” each and every day. There were awesome successes, and horrible, awful, failures. I made the meanest most delicious chili in a crock-pot one afternoon, and the other I rear-ended my family’s SUV into a Lexus.
I changed my own oil, replaced the battery in the car, fixed the AC unit, killed big scary spiders, was a savvy grocery shopper, shampooed the carpet, got house plants, killed house plants, got more house plants, learned to drive like a monster, talked my way out of a ticket, gained a greater appreciation and love for my family and savored the moments I had with them. I learned to take walks when I was frustrated, bike rides when I needed to think, and paddleboarded in alligator-infested waters. I felt what it feels like to lose someone, to miss someone, to love someone new, to feel heartbreak and betrayal. New emotions like discovering what it feels like to get jipped, and lied to, but also what real success and confidence can bring you. I learned that even grown adults can act like children, that not every situation or problem is resolvable, and sometimes in life you must simply move on.
A lot of those things are negative, and those closest to me know that I wasn’t at my happiest while down South. Finding the best in situations is one of my favorite qualities of myself, but with school, it just simply wasn’t what I had imagined. I didn’t get the education that I dreamt about, or the one that I was advertised of. Which is okay, I guess. I’m much less easily swayed now, and view the world more skeptically. Education is a twisted and confusing industry, and no school is by any stretch perfect.
Full Sail University was almost like one of those sugar cookies with pretty frosting and sprinkles you find at Stop & Shop (or Publix, Florida people) that you just can’t resist while getting your groceries. They’re perfect circle cookies, in their perfect plastic case. You sink your teeth in, and it just doesn’t taste as good as you imagined. Beautiful packaging, elegant display, but the product itself… less than satisfying.
In the end, I made some friends and did some pretty cool things. Tyler quickly became my absolute partner and soulmate, whom I did everything with. Crosswords in class, Harry Potter marathons, dinner dates, and spontaneous trips were a daily occurrence. He was my rock, my personal masseuse, and best friend. In the second half of my education, with my new class, I met Olen. Olen was the funniest most outrageously outgoing person I had ever met. The boy knew everyone who was anyone in Orlando, and got Tyler and I the hook up. The three of us were unstoppable. There are so many more people in that class that were incredibly welcoming and nice to me when I first joined. I hope they all know how much they mean to me.
Long story short, my “college experience” was not the college experience. It was the life experience of well, a lifetime.