I’ve been wanting to write this post for ages – but I didn’t find time. But now here it is!
So basically, I have started Uni in September at University Zurich. Throughout my first semester I have made loads of experiences, which I really want to share with you.
- Preparation for Uni
Uni life doesn’t start the moment you enter the building. It starts when you have to enrole and book your courses. I would recommend you to take your time with this. Think through what you really want to study, check if certain combinations are allowed, and whether you have to have special knowledge to be allowed to study this subject (e.g. Latin certificate), and check what the courses will entail (content wise – but also in terms of: are they a seminar? or a lecture? or both? do you need to write papers or a test throughout the semester? how much credit do I get for the courses?)
Because what you will do next is coming up with a time table. The way I did this, turned out to be the wrong way, really. I though, “well great, I’m gonna put a time table together so that I only have Uni on three days a week and a super long weekend”. Trust me, it’s not a good idea. After half a day you will feel exhausted and unable to follow the lectures or seminars. Additionally, you won’t have time to finish homework straight that evening, or repeat and learn/internalize what you have just heard throughout the day, because you would actually be supposed to prepare for the lectures and seminars the next day. And on those free two days throughout the week, you won’t be as productive as you wish you were.
So my recommendation is for you to book as much as you can in the early mornings. Better you go all week, every morning to uni, than a whole day. Because firstly, you will have the afternoon off to quickly finish homework or write summaries straight away and you still will have something from the day. I would say, go to uni in the mornings, because you will have a fresh mind and brain, ready to fill with information. And honestly, what else would you do if uni started in the afternoon? Right, you would only sleep… if you want to do Uni and work part time, you won’t have the time to waste for sleep, trust me 🙂 #uglytruth Another option if you hate waking up early is booking around lunchtime.
With all of those issues and the course-booking I recommend you to also talk to a friend or someone who’s already studying at the specific Uni. They will know everything and explain things to you. Uni-organisatory-stuff is super complicated in the beginning. So get yourself help!
- First few days of uni and making friends
There’s always the exciting and scary first day. Throw some comfy clothes on (jeans and t-shirt are never wrong) and make sure you have checked at which time you have to be where. To me, there is nothing worse than coming late on the first day or than being unable to find the room I am supposed to already sit in. The first week of uni usually only entails explanations of the courses. So all you really need is basically an agenda to write dates into.
This first week is also the time when everyone is new and everyone wants to find new friends. No one really has to worry about this part. I know, some people make friends easier than others. To be honest, when I started Uni, I didn’t really bother about making friends, because I had other issues in my mind. But I made friends anyway. Meaning: you don’t even have to really try.My tip is to look at the people sitting in your courses. Talk to the ones sitting next to you. Ask them where they are from, what else they are studying etc. Every person you have at least once talked to, is a potential person to sit next to whenever you see them. You basically get the allowance to walk up to those not-really-strangers-anymore whenever you see them – because why not. However, it makes most sense to find people who study several courses with you. The people you’ll only have one course with are not the ones you will easily get close to – that’s why I’m saying look at people and remember them. Because those people you see several times a week are the ones with similar interests and who will potentially become very close friends to you. You will also team up with people for course work or presentations. Those people are also especially at the beginning very likely to become your friends – so choose them wisely (!). I personally made the nicest, funniest friends at uni and it wasn’t hard at all. So don’t be scared. Uni people are cool and easy people to get to know and hang around with.
If you are anything like me then you expect Uni to be a lot of party, hanging about and fun. I am sorry if I ruin those daydreams for you now, but Uni is hard work (however, you will get rewarded with long holidays – this is when you can have fun). First of all, you will have loads and loads to read and it will take time. And this is when it starts to get tricky. Uni isn’t like High School where you got away with leaving stuff out, doing stuff later, not doing stuff at all… I had to learn this the hard way: pretty soon after I started Uni, the pile of things I hadn’t done (like reading pages, preparing for lectures, solving exercises) grew larger and larger, that at some point I felt so stressed and so far behind that there was no chance for me in certain courses to catch up again. I had to drop them if I didn’t want to fail miserably or lose focus in other courses as well.
So please, really try doing things weekly. Do all the stuff you have to do before the next lesson. Make sure that when you have to hand in a portfolio of weekly summarizes that you do write them every week. And finish them off properly every single time – meaning having the right layout, the right amount of words or letters and being content with what you managed. Because if you don’t you will get super stressed towards the end of semester when you are supposed to learn for exams or only check your summaries for spelling mistakes or strange wordings.
Also never forget deadlines – handing something in late is not accepted at Uni.
- Life outside of Uni (Jobs etc.)
You have to realise that Uni is your full time job now (I haven’t quite done that myself – but still). This means that with your part time job(s) you have to find out, how much you really can do (in terms of energy and time) and how much you have to do (money). Don’t forget that the goal is not to fail any courses – you don’t want to end up being the forever-at-Uni-person. However, I would still recommend you doing things aside of Uni, because now you have time for it. Start to gain some working experience, give yourself time when you don’t think about Uni at all.
Something else I personally had to figure out was where I could work best. I have a ridiculous concentration-span of about 20 minutes… So I had to find places where I could study and get shit done. This isn’t at home where my boyfriend can come home and I stop studying immediately. It is either at quiet places at Uni or libraries or my mother’s house where I can lock myself in my room. So even if I have a day off Uni I go to those places and study. I just simply cannot stay at home because there are 1000 of other things I could do. Or when I am waiting to go to sports classes, I stay at Uni instead of going home in between or do shopping or whatever. It will help you get a good school-studying-everything else-balance.
So. I hope some of this was helpful. Uni can really be the time of your life, when you are basically an adult but you haven’t got any big responsibilities. You can experience great things and enjoy life.
But just don’t underestimate what you have to do in terms to receive this great opportunity.
You have to be interested and do work to keep your place.
And with this I wish you loads of fun studying.