Tales of a First Year


From getting lost on the way to the array of different buildings, to doing my readings too early and forgetting the content come tute-time, I have learned a lot of new things in my first two weeks at UTS. So far it has been a fast-paced, stressful ball of reading, learning the names of all my peers and trying to build up the courage to answer questions in class. But I'm going to get there eventually. 

 The university experience is like nothing else. Freedom, on-campus cafes, free internet access (and not to mention the cute 'cloud room' at Haymarket!): there are so many endearing things to say about this new time in my life. I'm not going to lie- it has all taken a bit of time to get used to: readings pile up, assessments loom in the not-so-distant future (even though you have no clue where to start, or even which one to start first) and you're meeting all the people who will become your working colleagues and contacts. It's daunting. Scary. Exciting. And potentially, it could be the best time of your life: but only if you make it so. It's important that we work to make this time of our lives a memorable one. So join clubs. Get organised. Go out. Stay in. Do whatever you have to do to maintain a balanced life, in order to ensure that when you look back on your university experience, you can reminisce about more than just stress and study. So without further ado, I have compiled a list of things that could help make the university experience one to remember. I might be unqualified to do so, but I'll give it a shot.   

   Do your readings early, but not too early

In my first (and second) week, I thought I was being so efficient and organised by doing my readings five or six days ahead of schedule. Little did I know that I would later forget a lot of the information I had absorbed, despite writing notes. This happened to me most regarding the readings I had to annotate online- I thought if I got in early, I wouldn't have to think about them again. Bad move! Instead, try to do your readings just a little ahead of time, and review them at some point before your lectures and tutorials. It will save you a lot of embarrassment when you're called to answer a question and you can't think of the answer in reference to the reading!

   Plan out (or map out) your assessment schedule- just so you know what's up

I don't know about you guys, but I find that guilt is often a good motivator to do some work. If you're sitting down, trying to decide whether to watch Game of Thrones or Suits while simultaneously putting off the assessments you have due in the coming week, creating a chart of all your due dates and putting it somewhere noticeable can work wonders for procrastination. For me, I put my chart just across from my bed, so when I wake up and plan my day, I will try to factor in some research or writing. If I try to watch TV while that chart is staring at me, I'll feel so guilty that I'll switch off and at least make a small dent in my workload.

   Find something that motivates you

Whether it be rewards or penalties, find something that will motivate you to do your work and go with it. If you finish a substantial portion of research or a chunk of your essay, reward yourself with some 'you' time. Conversely, if penalties are more of a motivation, set some standards that will work for you: don't let yourself watch that new episode until you finish that proposal. Stick to your guns on this one.

   Know your habits

You know yourself better than anyone else- so work out what gets you going and accomodate that. If you function best in fresh air, find a nice spot outside to work. Study with snacks to save yourself from getting up from your task if you know you like to eat while you work. Chew gum to increase your blood flow. And, if you're one of those people who can't study with music but your environment is too loud or distracting, try googling 'A Soft Murmur' and work to the sounds of rain, waves or birds. Seriously, you'll thank me later. 

   Find a study buddy

Studying can be pretty blah at the best of times, so try to find someone who will make the work seem a little less like work. Arrange to meet up at certain times during the week and study your little hearts out, then go have lunch together. It's a win-win-win: you get to be social, get some work done and, of course, food. Food is always good, right?

   Don't forget to have a life

Whatever your notion of fun is, don't forget to let it happen. Join some clubs on campus and attend their events. Go out clubbing with friends, or spend the night watching bad movies. Have a crazy concert between study sessions. Make some delicious food and Instagram it (that's what the kids do these days, right?) Just try to remember that you will get through, and it will all work out in the end. 


Anyway guys, I hope you can all take something from this post. From one firstie to you, I hope everyone has a great semester!

By Emma Swaston