Before I came to university in February I had a fair few preconceived ideas as to what life as a uni student living in Auckland would be like. In some respects, I was spot on right, but in others, I was quite unprepared. So! Here are a few of my thoughts on what uni is like, having been here for 6 months now.
Thoughts on degree
I have been studying a conjoint degree in law and global studies and in semester one, some aspects were certainly more enjoyable than others. Last semester I took four papers: two in global studies (global 100 and global 101), one in law (law 121G) and my general education paper in philosophy (phil 105G). This semester I am taking another four papers: two in law (Law 131 and law 141) and two in Japanese (Japanese 131 [language] and Japanese 150 [history]).
Just as a blank statement that isn’t really related to any of the papers that I have so far taken, I do not test well. Ever since I started high school, I really struggled with exams and because of unnecessarily panicking before entering an exam room, I usually didn’t perform academically as well as I expected to. As a result of this, I generally didn’t sit every external exam paper in high school that I was taught, much to the annoyance of my mum! At the time I thought this to be the best way to achieve well as I would be focusing all my efforts into one or two papers per subject. To some extent, this was true as I did perform pretty well in the papers that I sat, but I didn’t bear in mind that this technique would not work at all once I got to university. At university we have no choice but to sit every exam paper, as unlike at school where a blank paper would just be marked as ‘void’, university papers that are left un-sat have a detrimental impact on our GPAs and could affect our entry into various second-year courses. From my experience, I would advise any high school student, year 13s particularly, to sit every external taught to them, no matter how hard or stressful it may be as it is a far more accurate representation of what university will be like. Yes, it is more work of course, but coming from a person that gets stressed by exams, if I can do it, so can you!
However, like at school, exams only make up part of the overall course- there is a fair bit of internal work (assignments) to do too. I find assignments much easier to perform well in than exams, as many people do, as there is more time to think over how you will structure a report. I find many of my assignments quite enjoyable actually. The only thing that I have found to be particularly useful when submitting assignments is that there is no option to refine or resubmit after the deadline; in school, there was slightly more flexibility. I would recommend to anyone to thoroughly proofread their work before turning it in to Canvas, or maybe getting someone else to glance an eye over it.
Also, be prepared to accept that you may not actually love the degree that you picked as much as you thought that you would. I know quite a few friends and acquaintances that took biomed/healthsci and law for example, coming into uni convinced that they would fulfil the childhood dream of becoming a doctor or lawyer; then realising after a few weeks/months that it really wasn’t for them. Changing part/all of a degree is surprisingly common in fact, especially as first-year students. That being said, you may love your initial chosen field!
Thoughts on hall life
Hall life, as you would expect, is great. When it comes to starting university, there really is no better way to fully immerse yourself into the new atmosphere and culture. As I have mentioned in previous blog entries, it is so easy to meet people and to make friends. There is always someone for me to go to lectures with, even my less popular classes like Japanese 150 which one of my RA friends goes to! The environment is friendly and caring, and there will always be something to do and someone to talk to. It’s super easy to get help with anything you’re working on academically and the PASS mentoring classes help to touch up on anything you may have missed from lectures, which sometimes are a little smothering.
The one real downside that I have found with regards to living in a hall of residence is that it is very difficult to find downtime to spend a moment with just yourself, to gather your thoughts. Unlike being at home, we go to school, study and socialise for 6 or so hours, then we go home and spend time with our families and can essentially spend our time however we like. The thing I have found with uni is that the 6 hours of study and socialising never really stops, as from the moment we wake up, to the moment we go to sleep we are surrounded by people. I have enjoyed this of course, but sometimes it is quite difficult just to catch your breath and think.
That being said, I really would recommend staying in a hall, even if you live in Auckland as it is such a brilliant way to socialise and meet people.
Thoughts on friendships
Ultimately, we are all at university to come out with some sort of a degree, but that would really be a chore without the friends and people around us. I have discovered that particularly this year. I am a very social character and I enjoy being around other people. In the space of 6 months, I have met so many different characters, specialising in so many different fields. The friends that I have met through O’Rorke are always a laugh, as well as being a bubbly bunch studying different degrees. It’s quite refreshing being surrounded by people going through the same things as I am academically, but also equally understanding the value of having fun.
The small group of friends that I have met from lectures have been invaluable to me too. Having a study group of people outside of the hall has been great when it comes to collaborating knowledge, and socially it’s brilliant sometimes bussing to other parts of Auckland visiting friends. A particularly treasured memory for me was the pub quiz nights I and a small group of lecture friends went to in Mount Roskill.