So the other day, I got this comment on one of my blogs…

Can you maybe do a blog on what you have found the most challenging about adapting to university life, general tips for those hoping to take Biomed or Health science next year? What you have found awesome about university? How do you manage your time well?

… so today’s post I’ll be tackling all these questions and more! I always try my best to read and reply to all my comments, so ask away 😀

 

WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND THE MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT ADAPTING TO UNIVERSITY LIFE?

Living alone. Living at O’Rorke Hall was the first time in my entire life, where I had lived away from my family, so of course the first night sleeping in a new place felt a little strange. But after you meet heaps of new people, get accustomed to the food, and get a feel for your way around this magical place, it’ll be your home in no time.

The O’Rorke Interfloor Pie-Eating Competition (no hands!)

Motivation. After the first few motivated weeks, motivation to go to lectures drops throughout the semester. And it’s not that the lectures are not interesting, most them are genuinely quite fascinating as we’re all finally at Uni and studying stuff we have chosen for ourselves and are interested in (which was not always the case back in high school). The problem is having the motivation to get up and get yourself to the lecture on time (especially when you know that they will all be recorded and posted online). Get your stuff organised the night before, sleep early-ish (sleep deprivation was the biggest reason I could never make it to my 8am lectures) and drag some of your friends with you to your lectures.

But my bed is so comfy though…

Main Ideas vs Details. In high school, my brain was trained to learn stuff by considering the overarching, main ideas that we learnt in class and being able to apply and use these ideas myself. Whereas at Uni in my biomed papers, I’ve noticed that the finer details are a lot more important. Because we are only first year undergraduate students, it’s important to form that initial and basic foundation of knowledge from which the future years of study will delve much deeper into. I’ve had to adapt my study methods vastly, since I need to be able to remember and understand a whole LOT more information than I was used to.

No second chances. I remember at high school we had so much room to improve our abilities and understanding of the content because we would learn it in class, have a practice test, have a mock exam, and then sit the final exam at the end of the year. Whereas in some of my papers this year, the first-half of the course content is assessed in the mid-semester test (then you can forget it all 😛 ), and the second-half of the semester is assessed in the end-of-semester exam. Once you sit the test, that content will no longer be tested in the exam. Although in some papers, the exam includes the full semester’s content, there’s still not really as much opportunities to revisit and relearn like in high school, because every time you sit a test or exam, it will (usually) contribute to your final grade.

Time. Quite a few of my papers have online quizzes which contribute to your final grade. Some of these are pre-lab quizzes (before every lab), and post-lecture quizzes (after every lecture). Also for most of my papers, we have fortnightly labs and because they’re only every second week, sometimes I forget whether it’s a “lab” week or not which has led to many near-misses (and a miss 🙁 ) of my labs…which is why it is so important to keep track of your quizzes by logging onto canvas every day, reminders on your phone, checklist in your diary, or whatever it may be.

The diary I failed to use

 

GENERAL TIPS FOR THOSE HOPING TO TAKE BIOMED OR HEALTH SCIENCE NEXT YEAR?

Find out more. Learn more about the papers in both biomed and healthsci first year so you can make a knowledgeable decision about which one you would want to undertake…as although they are both pathways to mostly the same clinical programmes, they diverge into very different degrees after the first year. You don’t want to go through half the year and realise that the other pathway may have been more suited to you, your strengths and interests. Check out my healthsci vs biomed blog.

Be chill. Just because you’re aiming to apply for one of the many clinical programmes like med, pharm and optom or you really just want to ace all your papers, doesn’t mean you have to devote all your time to study…or stress yourself out about tests and exams…and just generally have no chill. It sounds cliché but it’s true… enjoy your first year of uni, explore Auckland, meet new people, and experience new things.

Chill. (even though I have 20 lectures to catch up on)

Don’t buy the textbooks. The only textbook I personally found useful was Principles of Anatomy and Physiology, which we used for both BIOSCI107 and MEDSCI142. If you are gonna buy them, make sure to check out secondhand textbooks on Trademe or on this Facebook group with thousands of Auckland Uni students.

Move into a Hall. If you’re moving up or down (or even from another country) to Auckland for university, consider staying at a first year Hall of Residence. The academic mentoring programme for Biomed and Health Sci students is really helpful, it’s a good way to meet and study with other students, and a great way to truly experience uni life which is so important during the stressful biomed/healthsci first year. Check out my life in the halls blog.

 

WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND AWESOME ABOUT UNIVERSITY?

Freedom & independence. It’s great. You choose when you want to wake up, go to sleep, whether you want to go to class or not, whether you want to study or not, whether you work on your assignment or not…it’s all up to you! I also personally enjoy the self-directed learning a lot more, as you’re expected to do a lot of the learning on your own, rather than getting it all taught to you (eg pre-reading before lectures and post-lecture revision after lectures).

How I use my newfound freedom (midnight trips to Aotea Square)

Labs. Back in my high school, we did do practicals to help us understand theory, but it wasn’t that often and there is only so much you can do in a 1 hour class. Although some of the labs can be tedious or time-pressured, our 3 hour fortnightly labs for each science paper and our Lab TAs (teaching assistants) have been awesome.

And of course…all the awesome friends I’ve met along the way!

Making our own clay model embryo back in Sem 1 for BIOSCI107

 

 

HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR TIME WELL?

I don’t.

I’ll be uploading a “Day in my Life” vlog soon, and hopefully that will give you an insight to where all the time in my day goes!

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Sonna Narayanan

Local gal barely surviving first year Biomed at Auckland Uni while inhabiting the mighty O'Rorke Hall.

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