Image by Malachi Witt from Pixabay 

As a young clueless student in secondary school, I realized my love for “Architecture” back in the 8th grade. Prior to that, I had never really understood, what it was that Architects did, and to be honest I didn't even properly grasp the meaning of the word.

To me, architecture was equivalent to engineering, and it was after I dwelled on the subject and studied more about it did, that I realized what it really was. At that point, I was studying in a small country in the Gulf called Kuwait and the construction for one of the world's biggest malls was going about and it was finally completed when I reached the middle of 8th grade.

It was this beautiful mall with large pathways and “streets” and it felt like I entered a production set for some movie, because of how realistic everything looked. I felt like I was transported from Kuwait to some Avenue in France or a street in England and there was even a street dedicated to Bedouin Kuwait. This mall, called “The Grand Avenues”, was one of its kind, as it was a work of art and an architectural marvel for all the people in the Gulf. It was in a way a portal that took a person on a journey and adventure and transported them through the passage of time and it showcased different parts of the world through different time periods. the grand gateway at the start of the structure was the only normal “ordinary” part of it. The Avenues also had these beautiful green pockets and atriums, planned at specific intervals to bring more life and enhance the beauty of the space.

This structure, its design, planning, and creativity, changed my perspective on architecture and made me appreciate that architecture was not just about the facades or the outer appearance, rather it was much deeper than that. Now I felt, it was about telling a story through the structure, making people understand the meaning both physically and emotionally, and connecting with the thought process of the Architect. It was about speaking without using words, portraying feelings and emotions, sharing thoughts, and ideas, and conveying messages via materials, spatial configurations, colours, and more. And it made me comprehend that architecture is not just confined to structures, but even goes into other fields like landscape, and town planning.

It made me realize that architects, don't just impact the plan or the overall structure, rather they play an important role in making a better life for all. Architects play an essential role that impacts the mental health and well-being of a person. It is their design decisions that makeup, many aspects of basic human living.

Hence this course began to interest me, as it meant I too could play a role in making people's life a better place, just like doctors and engineers, and hence make a difference.

From that point on, I started reading more about architecture and started preparing for the entrance exams. After a lot of hard work and perseverance, I managed to crack JEE Main Paper II Exam, and with great aspirations and hopes, I joined Goa College of Architecture.

However, just as the sayings go, “All that glitters is not gold” and “There’s more that meets the eye”, I was met with the harsh reality of this course and its honest truth.

And here the meaning of Architecture changed once again, this course required that one had to put in a lot of hard work, determination, sleepless nights, deal with fake, conceited, and selfish people, be constantly undermined, and be told that they weren’t good enough, travel for 4 hours a day just to discuss a plan and be criticized and put down and one had to put in a lot of extra time for self-learning.

Another component of architecture is participating in architecture competitions as it helps us understand where we stand in terms of our talents and skills and teaches us that if you think you’re the best and the most innovative, there’s always someone out there who is even smarter, more creative, innovative, and talented. Competitions are an integral part of a student’s life as it creates a competitive mindset and a drive to be the best.

It’s a harsh world out there and the experiences in college surely burst my bubble and made me understand that the world isn’t a happy place filled with “Cupcakes and Rainbows”. It taught me life lessons and made me a stronger person, to deal with clients and other actors in our profession. In a way our course prepares us for the realities of the industry, hence making us well-equipped individuals who can deal with any problems and issues and still persevere and come out as better individuals.

The only fun and hopeful part of this tormented existence is the “Internship”, based on what I’ve heard from faculty and seniors. There the meaning of Architecture changes again, it becomes a course filled with practical work, learning, and growth. A time in the course to finally sit back and enjoy a bit, make friends, visit new sites, learn and experiment with ideas, materials, and software. It is one of the only times in the course where true lifelong friendships are formed, and in a way is a stepping stone to professional work life.

After this point, the seriousness of all students increases, as it is the final stretch of student life. At this stage, people run around to find topics and guides for their dissertations and thesis, and this portion of the course is most hectic, petrifying, and adventurous. The tensions for grades run high and the site visits are enthralling.

Eventually, all the hard work pays off, when the degree comes in hand and we are given the prefix “Ar.”, 5 years of toiling in hard work just for a prefix, sounds funny but it’s the truth, and only after this, does the new journey of going from an “Architect” to a “Starchitect” begins. Life doesn’t stop for anyone, and evolving is essential, hence many aspirants go ahead to do their Master’s, Specializations, and Ph.D.’s with the prospect of better opportunities, and with our fast-paced world and industry becoming more and more competitive, it seems like additional studies are becoming the norm.

The voyage towards becoming a great architect starts once the first project comes into the picture, it is only with projects done, that an architect’s confidence is built. It is a cruise with many ups and downs, good clients and bad clients, co-workers, etc, but nevertheless a journey that would be fun. The output of being able to change lives, make people happy, and make a difference, is a fruit that is worth waiting to savour.

Therefore, I feel, though the path and the journey to becoming an architect are paved with many difficulties and thorns, the end product is worth it.

Getting to be called Ar. Jade Vaz, would be a great pride in itself, let alone being a person who makes a good impression on people’s lives and being someone who makes dreams come true, would make me feel fulfilled.

Adding to that getting to be an architect who does something different and gets to be a pioneer in a field and probably brings pride to my state and country in the future would be the dream.

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