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2nd year at university: 5 things I learnt

On the last day of May I had my last exam, putting an end to my second year of my Classics course. I don’t know my results yet (I’ll know them in July), but I can already tell you that, no matter how I went, I learnt some lessons, some of which I really wished I had known before.

So here we go: 5 things I learnt from my second year, what to repeat and what to never ever do again.

1. When they say 2nd year is more difficult than 1st year, they are right and you shouldn’t underestimate it.

My 1st year saw bad and good moments, but at least academically, it had been very kind to me. How bad could the second year be? Ok, more difficult, more modules, but surely the jump in certain subjects (especially my translation classes) caught me by surprise, causing problems from time to time. You just need more time than you used to, to achieve the same results.

2. You can’t do everything, you need to prioritise and optimise.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably tend to say yes to any cool opportunity that comes on the way, until one day you look at your calendar and your to-do list and you regret it all. This year I started working, and I had more than one flexible job. I wanted to continue going to all my extra-activities, having a social life and also studying. That just couldn’t work. One day I had to sit down and make a list to prioritise and optimise all the activities I was involved in: something had to go. The choice is never easy: there was a reason of why you had started something, and probably there still is. But, as you need more time to study, the way you manage your time needs to change too.

3. You can’t avoid something just because you don’t like it so much.

Everyone has that one class that they just can’t stand, usually a mandatory one. I believe not to be the only one to whom it happened to fall asleep on a reading or actually completing the reading until the end just to stop and realise to have no clue of how that was helpful. Not doing something or delaying the work seemed easy at the moment, I had months to catch up, it wasn’t going to be a problem. Wrong. It had been a problem and made my exam revision not a revision at all and the time to catch up everything was just not enough. If you end up hating a class you thought you were going to like, or preparing it just take “too much time”, there is a good possibility that it means that that class is just harder than expected, and the right strategy is to give it more time, going to office hours and ask for help, rather than avoiding it. And this might sound so obvious, but I want to print it out and put it on my wall because it caused me so much stress and anxiety, and it was just not worth it.

4. Choosing modules you are genuinely interested in can make all the difference.

If it is true you’ll find modules that are harder and need you to give them more time, the beauty of the second year is that usually you have more choice than the first year. This means that you probably are going to have the opportunity to choose modules that interest you for real, that you are passionate about and can easily get your engagement. With these modules it is just so much easier to find the motivation to go to class, do all the readings and take all the notes already in class. All things that make a huge difference when it comes the time to revise for your exams. I ended up having 7 exams in May, because all the Classics modules I had chosen had only one exam worth 100% and no course-work. But I would make that choice again, since some of the modules (in particular a module on the Odyssey and one on mythology) would just make me happy.

5. More modules it does mean more exams but also learning more things, and it’s fantastic.

During 1st year I had 4 modules in total that run over the whole year. During 2nd year instead I had 8 modules in total. Ok, this meant 1 essay and 7 exams in May all worth 100%, but it also meant I had the opportunity to vary what I was learning and change topics, renewing my interest and never getting bored. And if you love learning new things like I do, you’ll know how fantastic that can be.

Overall my second year at university wasn’t always easy, but it also reminded me of why I had chosen Classics and all the things I like about it. Surely, my time management needs to improve, but I’m glad I got a third year to improve and learn even more.

Did you have an experience similar to mine or was your second year completely different? Let me know in the comments!


Un grande abbraccio

Chiara


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