Architecture College is not just a school, composed of a particular material you have to acquire to become a practitioner. Architecture College is a journey. It is an adventure on which you decide to embark and never leave. It is a continuous path of experiences, knowledge, and intrigue. It is a story of highs and lows, tears, and successes: the most beautiful and unforgettable journey one can decide to take. 

When you take a look back at what you were expecting before entering the school, from where you started, compare it to where you are now, and the destination you long for, the ideas that come to your mind are pretty silly. It is sweet as candy to get in touch with your evolution throughout the years. Allow me to take you through a comparative description of the different stages of becoming an Architect.

The Lifetime Journey - Sheet1

What to expect before entering Architecture School

When you decide to apply to architecture school, you signed a lifetime contract with continuous sleepless nights, anxiety, and stress, but amongst all: the possibility to develop and concretize your thoughts, your deepest fantasies, and your most creative ideas into a livable, touchable space. As the talented Iraqi architect, Zaha Hadid said: “if you want an easy life, don’t be an architect.” But trust me, all the effort is worth it.

Let’s start with the hype of becoming an architect that strikes the first day you receive your acceptance letter. You begin collecting pens of all sorts, endless types of papers and cartons, rulers, glues, notepads… Just like we used to prepare ourselves before the first day of school. Happiness is indescribable. Nevertheless, dear colleagues and friends, getting accepted isn’t the main issue here. The most challenging part is to stick to it, to be strong enough to hold on tight at each corner.

I would like to mention something that panicked me in a sort of way five years ago. Of course, at the start of the architectural journey, you are not expected to know how to manipulate the Autodesk platform. Even not to draw correctly by hand. Eventually, you will learn all of the basics in the first few months. So rest assured, it is entirely normal to have zero knowledge of the software. You will have plenty of time to learn. 

In fact, you will never stop learning. However, you should be ready to make some concessions. Let me rephrase it: you will find yourselves sometimes canceling critical social events to finish your project, and that’s okay. You might look in the mirror and scare yourself out. You might cry because you miss your bed. But keep in mind: it is worth every bit of it.


What to expect after Architecture School

During your architecture school years, you will find yourself growing exponentially. Every day you will acquire new skills. Like for example, hand drafting will become easier. You will stick to one or two pens maximum, instead of the whole collection. A Sharpie or a simple blue Bic would do the magic tricks for you. Adding on to that, you will find in the deepest corner of your creativeness a crazy architect that you would want to explore. It will take months of training on software, discovering new techniques, tips, and tricks (that you can easily find on Youtube).

But the most crucial part is that you will discover who you are. Your true self will pop up at some point. You will have an architectural signature that will keep evolving, maturing in every circumstance you will face.

I remember when I was in a drawing class, the teacher once told me, “one day, you will be able to do drawings with only one single line.” Today, after four years of exercising, I am getting closer and closer to perfecting the drawings.

It is not easy. You will need to get lost sometimes in experimenting with new ideas, concepts. Nevertheless, all the expectations you set before entering the school will vanish away from the first week. You will finally understand that with Architecture, there is no such thing as setting goals and reaching them. 

In architecture school and in your professional life, there is a continuum of knowledge, developments, evolution, and hard work that will consistently always raise the bar higher and higher. Some might say to reach that bar, I will have to win an award for my work—others, to build a specific infrastructure that fascinates them. But the idea is here. The core of the learning process is to never settle for a few things. Always thrive for the best, dream bigger.

What about disappointment 

These days will come. And there will be plenty of them. You will feel like a bubble of tears that are waiting to get burst. But these are the times when you will get more vigorous than ever. When you will put all your effort into something and stick to it.

For example, when you start doubting your abilities and comparing yourself to others, don’t just lock yourself up and think about quitting school. Instead, just hold your pieces together and work it out! Find a lovely café, a comfy desk, and develop yourself. Flourish your knowledge. Never let yourself down. This is one thing that I have personally learned the hard way throughout architecture school. It will, for sure, hit you hard the first few times, but then you will realize that you will not let any obstacle stand before your passion and enthusiasm in life.

To put it all in a nutshell, I would like you to keep in mind that Architecture College isn’t simple. It is a stressful and challenging path that will, nonetheless, take you to the most fantastic and beautiful places on earth. Architecture school doesn’t stop when you get your diploma. It is a never-ending life experience, a journey of learning and self-development, if I may say. It nourishes the quest of finding your own self. Have a delightful adventure! And most importantly, stay on board, no matter the big waves!


Dima Fadel is a passionate and curious architect, constantly seeking new knowledge. She graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Architectural Studies from the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts in Beirut last summer, and is currently pursuing her MSc in Integrated Architectural Design at La Salle, in the urban laboratory of Architecture: Barcelona.