Five Things I Learnt in my First Semester of Uni

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As my first ever semester of uni comes to a close, I’m thinking about the new experiences I’ve had and the things I’ve learned. I have felt so many emotions, tried so many new things, spent long hours studying and that has led me to learn a few things about university life. Whether you’re starting uni in the near future, already at uni or are just interested, here are five things I’ve learned throughout my first semester of uni.

1. Uni is so different to high school

Everyone always tells you before starting uni that it is so much different tp high school. Up until starting uni I didn’t understand how true this was. Uni is a lot more independent than school, the lecturers won’t come and check up on you to make sure you’re okay – if you need help you have to ask. High school, well at least for me, felt like I was wrapped up in layers of bubble wrap. Nothing bad really happened, and when it did there was so much support which just came to the rescue automatically. Of course there is support at uni, a lot of it, you just have to look for it and ask for help.

Uni is also very different socially. There aren’t cliques or “popular” groups like there are in high school. You have your group of friends, usually from your course, but it isn’t like you are known for being the cool kids or the nerds or the athletes. People let people do what they want for the most part. If the social structure of high school is getting you down, just know that it’ll change.

2. Just because it isn’t compulsory, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it anyway

In uni, I’ve come to realise that there isn’t a lot that is actually compulsory… well at least for my course and the courses that people I know have told me about. Obviously you have to pass the course to get credits and graduate, therefore you have to complete the assessments, but most classes are actually not compulsory to attend every week. But just because they’re not compulsory, doesn’t mean you should skip every tutorial and/or lectures. From experience I’ve discovered that lectures are actually the most helpful way to understand your topic. You have the ability to clarify and ask questions which you cannot get by staying at home and watching them online. Going to lectures and tutorials are also a great way to network and make friends at uni who will at least come in handy for your personal gain even if you, for some strange reason don’t like having friends.

3. You’ll probably suffer financially

You may be accustamed to working a relatively large amount of hours, having financial stability and being able to afford to go out regularly, but this will likely change. Personally, ever since I was old enough to get a casual job I had one. Even throughout year 12 I worked minimum 15 hours a week, even during exams. I enjoy working but I enjoy the money even more. I was used to being financially independent and stable, having savings and going out every weekend. This has changed since uni. I am no longer able to work the same hours due to hectic study schedules and deadlines and therefore have never been so poor. This will change when uni is over and during holidays but be prepared to say ‘no’ to people and use as many discount codes as possible. ‘Unidays’ is the best for discounts, so 10/10 recommend.

4. Prioritise! Prioritise! Prioritise!

I know, prioritising sucks. I’m sure you’d rather hang out with your friends or pick up an extra shift at work but you really have to decide if it’s wise to put uni on the back burner for a day or two. The only way you’ll make it through uni or life for that matter, is to decide what is important. This will change throughout the semester. At some points in the semester you’ll be able to put your feet up, go out or do whatever it is you want to do. Other times you’ll have to be a hermit who hasn’t been outside in three days and really needs to wash their hair. If you know that you have two essays due in a weeks time that you haven’t started, it’s probably not wise to hit up pubs and clubs this weekend. Don’t take this as a ‘you can never have fun’, because you absolutely can and you absolutely need to! Balance is important so try and find that early. This is a matter of choosing wisely when you do things outside of uni. Prioritise what needs to be done first, what is most important and remember that it’s not forever.

5. Use your resources!

Last, but definitely not least, use every resource you have access to! This isn’t just the uni library, this is your peers, lecturers, learning centres, tutors and people in the years above you. If you are struggling there is so much support out there for you. Be nice to your lecturers, make friends in your classes, join a study group, get to know second years, third years and so on from your course who have been where you are. Everyone knows that uni can be hard on so many aspects of life, use the resources you have for academic help and beyond. Don’t suffer in silence. People usually want to help, you just have to put yourself out there and ask for it.

Thank you all for reading and I hope you found these points helpful. Feel free to leave a comment about any questions you have or any other points that you think would be helpful for myself and others to know about uni!

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