My university experience was an amazing journey with un-ending development and growth. Hopefully, these 5 key lessons/habits from what was an amazing experience will inspire someone.
1.Speak with your lecturers
Studying two disciplines was quite fulfilling, however the tricky part was the fact that both departments required different styles of essay formatting and methods of assessments. Half-way throughout my first year I began arranging meetings with my lecturers and I saw a massive improvement in my work as I took their advice and tips on board, especially on essay formatting as writing essays were a strong point. I am quite happy that I had the opportunity to do this earlier on in first year as by my final year I could explore different modes of writing as well as speak to a variety of academics just for help whether they were my supervisor or not.
Caution: sometimes you may ask questions based on your or your lecturers interest that will incur a 10 minute answer. In an event of such a predicament make sure you have eaten prior to the meeting and timed the conversation in order to catch your bus back home!
2.Make friends with your course mates and build your adult network
Often my housemates would laugh at how I was never at home during the day. Whilst it was severe I can say that my times spent with course mates were absolute blessings. I cannot count how many times I realised I had learnt a theory or date wrong leading up to an exam, to which these were all resolved by course mates. Additionally, hanging out with my course mates boosted my confidence to make contributions in seminar and lecturers. Essentially, everyone is often shy but when we do become comfortable with each other that will propel great conversation and fulfilling learning. By doing this I realised that I was not in competition with any of my course mates but rather they had rather become a part of my ‘network’. To have a dynamic reach of people from all over the United Kingdom and the world who were striving to make some kind of impact wherever they would find themselves was deeply inspiring and I saw this as a privilege.
3.Pray (or meditate)
I developed a habit of praying and journaling as regularly as I could; this helped massively when there was no one around. University can be a very lonely place despite the many support systems that may be available. I loved these moments because it helped me to also understand myself more. I finally understood what graduates meant by ‘uni is a place you learn about yourself’. It was I alone reflecting on my character and deeply thinking and planning my visions for the future as I was inspired. Praying helped me to calm down during the time I would worry about the future. You may not be deeply religious or necessarily have a faith, however I found these times crucially important and helpful than anything I attempted to enhance myself whilst at University.
4. Have a life inside and also outside of university
As a student, you are most likely not able to engage with the locals effectively besides when you popped into the local Lidl (the supermarket every student should make their best-friend!). I made the conscious decision to engage with the locals a little more by my second year which also an amazing experience. I was fortunate enough to be part of a church community, volunteered at museums along with many other activities which taught me a lot and fuelled a sense of independence in me. This independence boosted my confidence to attend talks and events on interesting topics as well as travel alone, which was my ultimate highlight.
5. Identify your educational weaknesses and make efforts to face them
I mentioned that writing essays were a strong point for me. On the other hand was my nemesis: exams. If I could ever meet the man who created this phenomenon I would do anything to beg him to rethink such a traumatizing experience. I do not usually suffer from anxiety attacks or any of that sorts, however throughout education taking exams had always been an uncomfortable experience. It was not until my final year that I realised that I needed to identify it as an academic weakness and seek help. It was a tough time for me, having to attend exam skills classes and revising whilst maintaining a level of calmness and belief in myself. However, I can say it was truly liberating knowing that I after facing this weakness there was candid help available.
Essentially, you are there for a certain amount of years that you will never get back. For some this may be your last hurdle with education – and that is why identifying your shortcomings with your learning is crucial in reaping the best you can. You are paying £9k + after all! Make your educational investment worth it and you won’t regret it.