Hi guys! I have to inform you that I did indeed make it out alive of my first year at university and I’m just about doing alright still!
It’s been quite a while now since I finished all my exams and various other assessments, and I feel like at this point, I’m quite deep into my summer, so I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my first year of university. Beyond all the academia, I’ve had the chance to meet such incredible people and I’m so glad to know I’ve made the friends I have over this year.
Despite it being a difficult and relatively new experience, I can say with 100% certainty that I’ve already enjoyed my first year of medical school more than I enjoyed my two years of sixth form. I talked to so many different people, savoured diverse views and opinions, and reconnected with my innate passion for learning and education. I think that latter point was the one thing missing with my college experience, and it was the pure loss of enjoyment for learning; everything had become a battle for minor marks, I felt beaten down by frustratingly particular mark schemes and there was no desire to absorb information for the sake of educating myself.
Having said that, university has come with its own set of challenges, both academic and social, which have left, at best, funny memories, and at worst, cringe-worthy moments that haunt me while I try to sleep. I guess there’s truly no winning! So I guess this is the best time to share some of the things I consider to be mistakes I made during first year.
1. Not Going Out Enough
This is such a big one. Now, I’m no extroverted socialite but going out to do fun things with your friends is the real bread and butter of university, I think. Who is going to fondly remember evenings spent studying alone for hours?! Although I feel like I didn’t go out an awful lot with my friends, I have to say, even basic things are made extremely entertaining when you’re with the right people, and some of my best memories include all of us having a breakdown together, sitting in a group study room on a sunny Wednesday afternoon as we pored over concepts that seemed impossible. It’s not essential to always have big, extravagant plans, though a few here or there never hurt anyone.
2. Not Making the Effort to Meet New People/Join Clubs/Start Hobbies
This is quite different to my first point because I think taking initiative to broaden social horizons is more about making connections and finding out more about the things that interest you.
In hindsight I probably should have joined more societies and attended more events, but equally, I know my limits well. I suppose stepping outside of my comfort zone is something I should be striving to do regardless, and I feel like I really didn’t do that this year. Let’s take this year as a trial year and hopefully attempt to branch out a little more next year.
3. Not Spending Enough Time Doing Work as I Went Along
Please note that this is the only academic-related mistake I’m choosing to focus on; I made such a vast amount, but I think dwelling on small things is going backwards and not forwards, so I boiled it all down to this one error.
I truly thought I was doing an alright job of going over certain areas to a decent degree of detail as I went along, but I clearly wasn’t. This comes from panicked exam nights vowing to myself that I’d never leave so much content so late, having not covered it again since we first learned it. I saw so much success in the flashcards I was going over every night, and really regretted not doing more during the weeks.
Nevertheless, I really believe that you don’t learn your lesson until you make the mistake yourself, so I guess I’ve done myself a favour. Better now than three or four years from now.
You win some, you lose some! Mistakes are necessary to move forward and acknowledging where you went wrong is highly important so you can actively avoid doing that again in the future. While I’m sure I will never reach the ideal state I want to be at, that’s a truth I’m willing to accept.
I hope you guys are all having a great summer and making the most of your lives. I’ve had a lot on my mind these past few weeks and hopefully I can articulate it accurately at some point soon. Thanks for all your patience through exam season, always sending all my love and support for any troubles you may be having!