There’s less than a week and a half left before lectures end. Tests are done and dusted, and I hand in my last assignment on Friday morning. My first exam is in less than three weeks and the panic is starting to set in. On a positive note, I only have to prepare for three exams.

I made the decision to take only three papers in my first semester of university. This was partially because I have moved away from home; I’m really tight with my family and I knew I would find it initially difficult to adjust to not only living independently but also to a new city. If you’ve lived somewhere where you aren’t exposed to the city all day every day, Auckland is pretty overwhelming for the first couple of weeks!

It was also partially because the paper I was going to take ended up being the course that took up too much of my time (4 lectures a week and a 3-hour lab every second week). It wasn’t a paper I needed to take; I was only using it as a filler paper, as Psychology only has three compulsory papers at Stage I.

One potential downside to only taking three papers this semester is that my degree requires you to have 360 points, which equates to 24 papers worth 15 points each. So in simple terms, 8 papers a year. This means that at some point, I will either have to take 5 papers in a semester, which sounds pretty stressful, or take a Summer School paper next year (or the year after), which is not a big deal.

So what are the three papers I’m doing then?


PSYCH109 – Mind, Brain and Behaviour:

This course is one of two Stage I Psych papers available and it covers everything from visual perception to learning to neuropsychology, with a bit of statistics chucked in for good measure. I am really enjoying the neuropsychology section of the course; the lecturer is engaging and I think the brain is really cool (lol I’m a nerd).

You can look at this paper as a taste test of what is available in Stage II; each section is covered with enough depth to be examinable, but it also means that you can then go on to pick papers next year in what you enjoyed the most.

Both of the Psych papers are available to take as a General Education or just as a filler paper. I think it is the more science-y of the two Psych papers; PSYCH108 is more clinical psychology.


CHEM150 – Concepts of Chemistry:

I took this paper with the intentions of doing pre-med next year (which may not be happening). I did quite badly in Chemistry in Level 3 NCEA and to prepare for pre-med, I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take this Chemistry paper.

This course covers everything you learnt in NCEA Level 1, 2 and 3 in just over 3 months. That’s right, 3 years worth of chemistry packed into a semester of university.

For those who haven’t done chemistry at school or didn’t do very well (like me, I failed all 3 papers lol), I highly recommend this paper. I can’t speak for those who didn’t carry on with chemistry at school, but for someone who didn’t really grasp the concepts in NCEA, this course has benefitted me hugely.

I’m not wild about the paper, but I actually understand chemistry now (it’s the course I’m doing my best in???) This could be because I have encountered the concepts before or because it is being taught in a different way, or a combination of both.


HISTORY125 – War, Peace and Society:

You might be thinking, “What? This isn’t a science paper?” and you are most certainly right, it’s not. But a cool thing about doing a Bachelor of Science is that you have the opportunity to take up to two papers outside of your faculty that aren’t General Education.

This course starts with the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 through to the post-Cold War era. Not only does it talk about the conflicts and how they arose, but also about periods of peace and why they occurred, and the effects of war and peace on societies around the world.

I personally loved learning about the industrial revolution and the effect it had on how wars were fought, as well as learning about your classics, World War I and II. If you love learning about global conflicts, rather than general history of the world, then this paper could be for you.


So yeah, that’s a wee summary of the papers I’m doing this semester! Not that thrilling, I know, but you can look forward to some sweet as study tips in my next blog 😉


Until next time – Emily