Education, Self-development

Life at University: The First Two Months

This coming week marks the end of November and also the end of my second month back in university. It’s practically half of the semester done and dusted. Incredible!

I felt the need to write about my experience so far, taking stock of the positive and negative sides of my situation. In case you missed the detail I had mentioned in one of my previous Weekender’s posts, I had already enrolled in university 10 years ago, but it didn’t go well. Therefore, it is only natural for me to make comparisons between then and now.

With this post, I’d also love to reach out to other mature students or to those persons well past scholastic age who are still pondering the possibility of enrolling in a formal course to further their education. May it serve you as an encouragement.

+ Positives +

It’s good to be back

Returning after a very long time could have been a shock for me, but in actual fact, I’ve been feeling at ease with moving around the campus and getting used to the routine, simply because I had already lived the newness of such a situation.

Not being as ‘fresh’ as the other freshers is by no means a disadvantage; being older than the majority is just a matter of age. Making a comeback at this point in life gives me a huge edge because I’m carrying with me a bigger baggage of experience (well… it’s not as big as the 10-year gap might suggest, but compared to most of my classmates, I have proper knowledge of what a full-time job entails).

I enrolled again with clearer goals, knowing better what I wanted out of this university experience, and so I’m not the same scaredy-cat that I was 10 years ago.

And yet… it still is a new experience

I might be faring better now as a fresher than I did when I was 18 thanks to the acquired maturity, but naturally, things have also changed a lot on campus in these years.

I remember back at that time when lecturers had to rely only on the whiteboard to write on and a projector to show printed or handwritten slides of notes. Now the campus is undergoing a revamping with better lecture halls and also more modern technology. For example, nowadays, a lecture cancellation is communicated through email or SMS. It all makes the student’s life so much easier than my days!

And of course, there is the age gap between my colleagues in class and me. To think that most of them (there is still a handful around my age or even older) were born in 1997, when I was already venturing into secondary school, makes me feel extremely awkward. At times I can’t help but notice the difference in maturity. I still find it hard to accept their inattention and the tapping on their laptops during lectures. But that’s nothing that I can’t survive.

I made new friends

Come and rejoice with me, fellow introverts and awkward people. I made new friends! To be honest, that was one of my biggest fears when embarking on this new journey. Knowing very well my incapability of approaching new people, I was already imagining three years of studious solitude.

However, I was approached (yes, approached and not I approaching them, you can’t expect such a miracle when it comes to me) by an equally shy girl from my hometown who shares both of my study areas. And eventually I talked to other classmates within her group of friends (coming from the same high school is an advantage for them), and that’s it, now I can say that I have a group of friends on whom I can rely for support and with whom I can enjoy some jokes between lectures. I couldn’t be happier.

– Negatives –

Too much work to do…

My major problem which has – unfortunately – already manifested itself in the first weeks is the amount of workload and the lack of proper time management.

Since my course is mostly literature-based, the big part of my workload consists of reading set texts, anthologies of poetry and novels, besides the related criticism research to be done independently. End-of-semester exams are in less than 2 months, I’ll have at least 3 assignments (of which only one title has been communicated to us so far), and I’m behind on almost every topic.

All right, I admit it: I’m guilty. I’m utterly incompetent when it comes to working to a schedule. I managed to devise one and printed it out, but I failed to follow it faithfully. That has to change soon.

…too little time available

While I acknowledge my inadequacy, I still find it hard to understand how others manage to catch up with everything (unless they’re bluffing).

Another big problem is the timetable for this semester. I finish at 4 pm on three days out of five and once at 5 pm. By the time I’m home, I am exhausted, and after finishing dinner and any small house chore that needs to be done, I have barely any energy to review my notes (studying at night is out of the question, except in extreme cases). During the long days on campus, I have some free time where I could catch up, but I often end up doing simpler things or just procrastinate.

Hence I look forward to starting the second semester in February because from what I’ve seen, I’ll have more free afternoons, which I find the best time to study.

The commute sucks half of my energy

Don’t be mistaken into thinking that this is a rant against public transport. No, I still don’t want to get a driving license because that won’t save me from the rampant traffic jams that choke the Maltese roads.

However, public transport still needs to be sorted out. There are only two direct buses from my town to the campus; both of them pass every hour, and one of them travels through many localities, taking over an hour to reach my destination.

Needless to say, they rarely go according to schedule (maybe I should work with them ha!) and most of the time they are late, which is not nice when I finish at 5 pm on a dark wintery evening. I have tried to go back home with two buses, passing through the capital’s hub, which is convenient in the morning but downright terrifying in the evening due to the rush hour crowds. So I persist with waiting for the same direct buses and hope for the best.

In any case, I choose to dwell less on the negatives and encourage myself with the positives. Not easy since I’m not an optimist by nature but so far it’s going well.

And this time, I will make it. I want to, I have to; therefore I will!

Are you a university/college student? Care to share your thoughts and experience? Leave a comment on this post or drop me a mail!
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