Two days ago I sat my final exam for the year and finished my first ever year of university! Coincidentally, today marks exactly one year since I graduated high school, so I thought today would be the perfect time to write about the things I learnt from my experience at university over the last year! This is half things I learnt, half advice I’d give to anyone starting this new chapter in the near future. I hope you enjoy it and find it helpful!
1. It’s actually okay if you’re late. Obviously try and get the most out of your education and arrive on time, but it took me a few weeks to realise “hey wait a minute, they aren’t waiting for me, they aren’t marking a roll in lectures, I can stop stressing at the fact I’ll be five minutes late”. This is such a small thing to realise but after years of running into school right as the bell hits 9am, realising I didn’t need to panic as much was revolutionary.
2. Making friends is actually easy! There’s this general assumption that making friends and starting over again at university is hard, but I was also told by my siblings that it’s actually easy, and they were right! You just have to be the first to break the ice. There have been countless moments right before those first tutorials when a bunch of us have been standing there and no one has been saying anything, but you know someone wants someone to say something. I did the “are you here for the blah blah tutorial/is this the right room for blah?” to the person next to me and they would be so relived that someone said something and would go “yes omg, are you a blah student?/what do you think of it so far?/yeah blah is so hard!” etc. Then bam! You have a buddy! You can then sit with that buddy in your weekly tutorials and talk to them about uni, because they will want that as well! You can now make several buddies! I was scared of meeting new people, but I now have a bunch of university friends and it has all come from just saying something. If that’s still a bit daunting, you end up doing so much group work in tutorials so that’s another perfect opportunity to strike up a conversation.
3. Everything is online, and it sucks. It will feel like distance education at times. Every important bit of information is tucked away within three folders on Blackboard, so learn to check every avenue on the website! I also always printed off assignment information sheets so I could go through and highlight important points. I found from school having a hard copy of something in your hand makes it all a little bit more real and always gives me that boost to start my work.
4. Learn to sync your university emails to your phone so you see them on your home screen and don’t miss important notices. I didn’t do this until I almost missed an assignment sign on session and very nearly missed out on 20% of my mark, so learn from that!
5. One semester is not a representation of the whole degree, and this goes both ways. My first semester was amazing and I had so much fun, “I’ll love this for three years!” I thought. I was somewhat wrong. I struggled to enjoy the first half of my second semester and I’m still not sure why. I just found it so hard to get into the groove of things again, and I had settled into uni already so that fear of meeting new people and getting lost on campus (thankfully) wasn’t there anymore to keep me “on my toes”. I did enjoy it towards the end though because I was getting great results back and I thought “okay even though I feel off my game, at least it’s not showing in my marks”. So think of this in times it gets little tough and you want to throw the towel in. Your next semester might be your favourite!
6. Don’t doubt yourself, be organised, don’t rely on others for info – I’m incredibly organised, however there was one time in semester one where two pieces of assignment for the same unit were due on the same day but at different times (confusing right). I double checked the specific times but still doubted myself, so I asked my friend. She told me different information and I FREAKED the heck out, panicked and quickly emailed my tutor. They replied instantly with “you had the correct times, why didn’t you trust your own information?” So, lesson learnt!
7. You might have to cut back in other areas of life while the semester is in full swing, and that’s 100% okay, you aren’t weak for not wanting to juggle more than you need you. I learnt this in my second semester when I feared I was falling behind, which made me resent the semester, the degree and university as a whole, all because I wanted to do everything at once. I could’t work 20 hours a week and do university full time, attend ballet lessons and photograph, write, edit, publish and promote two quality blog posts a week. At times I felt like I wasn’t doing much, but then I got sick (because I was so run down from everything) and missed so much in just two days. I ended up cutting my blog back to once post a week (or sometimes zero) and stopped ballet for the term as when I wasn’t at work all day, I was at home writing essays at night. I felt bad cutting back, but I also got my assignments done and got great results from them, which is my highest priority. I also ending up enjoying my semester much more, and found my blog to be more about the quality of the posts and photographs, not about the quantity of content.
8. Treat yourself regularly! My not so guilty pleasures included buying makeup here and there every couple of weeks and grabbing Boost juices to help me get through back to back Monday afternoon lectures. Plus, every week I had an assignment due on the Friday, so I always had them done early so I could watch brand new episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race stress free. God bless Ru for giving us two seasons this year timed perfectly around my semesters!
9. You’re not in competition with others, and you’re not striving for the highest marks to get the best OP anymore. I was still in Year 12 mode even months out of high school, and it was only when my mum said “do your best” that I realised “okay wow my future isn’t dependant on what percentage above my friend I get”. It took such a weight off my shoulders and made a difference to how I was approaching everything!
10. The marks you get at the end from all your hard work make everything worth it! Even though I felt off my game during my second semester, even though I hated certain pieces of assessments, even though I had a mini crisis about my future career, I kept pushing through and just focused on the here and the now and my marks. I’m so happy I did because I’ve finished with marks I’m so proud of and it makes all the stress, time and effort I went through worth it! I’ve only finished just one of my three years, so I can’t imagine how happy I’ll be when I’ve finished the entire degree!
So those are some of the things I learnt from my first year of university! What’s something you’ve learnt recently? What was your university experience like? Leave me a comment below so we can chat!
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All the love,