What the First Year of Uni Taught (or Didn’t Teach) Me

What the First Year of Uni Taught (or Didn’t Teach) Me

1st February 2015 // By Maureen Huang // Education

I can feel it. The sporadic anxiety attacks could come from nowhere else, my body knows all right. It knows that in a just one month, I’ll be back at that special place known as University.

Forget sleeping, waking up and eating whenever the hell you want. It’s time to bring out the alarm and get ready for those 6am wake up calls. Prepare for the long commute to and from hell’s headquarters itself. Let’s not forget the seemingly never-ending essays, group assignments (yuck), and lectures. Just thinking about all those things makes my spine tingle in fear.

But nevertheless, I survived my first year of uni (And I thoroughly applaud those who have done the same), so I’m here to give you the philosophies from my freshman year.

1. Coffee

Alright people, I’m being serious here. You won’t survive the first year of uni without some coffee, or at least a bit of caffeine. It doesn’t matter how you take it. Hot, iced, sweetened, frothy, syruped. It’ll definitely help the night after an assignment, I’ll tell you that much. Got a headache? Coffee. Tired? Coffee. Grumpy? Coffee. Gotta sit through that one hour lecture sitting behind the one group that talks the whole way through? Coffee, coffee and coffee.

2. Readings

If there’s anything that could turn out to be an unforeseeable blessing or curse, it’s readings. Yes, I’m talking about those pages and pages of words that you’re supposed to read and god forbid actually understand, for your units. There are those lucky weeks where the sun comes through your window and clears the dust out of your noggin. Those readings that actually hang on a thread of engaging. I’m telling you now, this feeling for me was rare… Then there are those dreary weeks with 72 pages of readings about some random theory you’re supposed to get. Pages of blah. Maybe it all comes down to your mindset. Just tell yourself ‘this will be interesting, I’ll understand it this time’. Or if worse comes to worse, that’s why they invented the expression ‘fake it till you make it,’ you’ll understand those readings eventually, or at the very least you’ll look very intelligent pretending that you do.

3. Answering questions in class

Maybe this won’t apply to those who are skilled in the art of blending into the background, but for those of you who are stuck with the one Hitler teacher who won’t let you off the hook without answering questions, I’m here to tell you my secret. Hush. Close the blinds, lock the doors and pay special attention. If ever there comes a time where you’re scared out of your socks because you don’t know what’s happening, just speak. Heck, say anything, start a discussion. Participate. Other people are probably as confused as you are. That way (hopefully) some smarty pants genius will come with their witty answers and let you off the hook. And maybe, just maybe, at the end of the day you might actually come out of the class having learnt something.

4. Group Assignments

Yes, I said it- you heard it. Group assignments. You’re probably thinking: 3 extra brains, 6 extra hands, this ought to be easy. Well in some seldom instances you may be right. In a perfect world, group assignments come as an advantage. In a perfect world, you’ll be placed with a group of people who chime with you seamlessly, like pieces of a pre-made puzzle. Well guess what? We’re not in a perfect world and 99.999999 per cent of the time you’re grouped with a bunch of people you have trouble keeping your head-screwed on around. Group assignments are like one big balancing act. You’ve got one goal, four or more differing personalities and a time frame. Apparently these set assessments are supposed to set you up for the ‘real world’. Being able to effectively communicate and manage your time. I guess we can hold onto the fact that it’ll all be over soon.

5. Breaks

Lastly, and this may seem the most obvious: take breaks. There is no point in getting HD marks while the rest of your body (and sanity) is deteriorating.

Apart from all the other jazz like not doing your assignments last minute, not spending all your money on coffee, and not stressing out too much, you’ll be fine. Uni isn’t all that bad.. really…