My First Year at University

As October passed into November, the fair weather that was common in the summer gave way to the cool and wet climate that dominates much of fall and winter. When I was in an orientation group before classes started, our group leader, a second year student, told us that we should invest in rain gear. Well, he was definitely correct about that. My university has a large and open campus that is really beautiful when the weather is good, but it sucks to be outside when it was raining, and it rained quite a bit. Since the campus is so large, it usually took me around five minutes to get from one class to the next, and walking in the rain while trying not to step into a puddle was not the most pleasant experience in the world, and there were plenty of pretty puddles littered around the campus. Getting soaked at school was a common occurrence until around March, so I eventually got used to it.

Even though I had plenty of lectures, discussion groups, tutorials, and labs to go to, I still had a fair bit of spare time when I was in school. Other than going to the fitness centre for workouts and the school cafeteria for lunch, I usually stayed in the university’s main library. The main library actually wasn’t the most popular or crowded library on campus, since it was under renovation, so I usually can hog a computer station to myself. Since library internet excess was paid for when I paid my student fees, I spent most of my time there surfing the net. Since I didn’t bring textbooks to school ever since the first day, I couldn’t really study nor do homework for most of the courses, so I might as well do something else.

The first term went by really quickly, since a term was only about three months long. After all the midterms were done, I was actually doing pretty well in all of my courses, even calculus. I managed to get my act together and did well on the next two math midterms, plus the midterms for every other subject, so by the end of the term I was at a good position in terms of grades. The midterms were the biggest chunks of marks other than the finals, since homework and even labs were worth next to nothing. Most of my courses tend to put most of the marks on midterms and finals, and this actually benefits me by a lot, since I tend to do well in tests and exams but not as well on homework, projects, or labs. By the time the finals rolled around, I had regained my confidence in my academic prowess (especially in terms of my math skills), so I ended up doing pretty well in my finals. Of course, I also studied harder and longer than I’ve ever done before, and that must have helped a bit.

Just like high school, winter vacation in university was just a short two week affair. Classes did end early in December, but the first two-three weeks of the month were for the final exams, so I had to study and couldn’t relax and slack off. I didn’t do anything special during the winter vacation. The only thing I remember was that by the start of the second term, I’ve already forgotten about most of the stuff I learned in first term. Oh, and I also went back to the campus bookstore to get books for the second term. Unfortunately, I still hadn’t learned my lesson yet and bought the optional textbooks as well. Later in the second term I found out that “optional” pretty much meant “useless,” since the professors usually mention those books once at the beginning of the term and then the books were never again talked about or used in any way. A few hundred bucks went down the drain just like that. Actually, even the required textbooks for some courses were useless as well. This largely depended on whether or not the professor for the course gave good notes. If the notes were well composed, then the textbook was usually for reference only. If the notes were bad, then I had to read the textbook in order to understand the material.

Second term wasn’t very different from to the first term. I did take more courses in this term, and there were more labs to go to, so overall I had less time for breaks and had to spend more time at school, but since I’ve already adapted to the university environment, these changes didn’t have a big effect. Of course, more courses did mean more work, so I had to spend even more time reading and doing homework. I couldn’t go to the math club any more since the contest took place in December, but I still went to work out three days of the week.

Second term courses were more or less the same type of stuff that I had in first term. For calculus (now it’s integral instead of differential), I still had the same professor and mostly the same classmates. I had less trouble with this calculus course, and I understood about two-thirds of the stuff the professor presented in class, up from one-half from the first term. I even performed similarly in the tests: I screwed up my first midterm, redeemed myself on the next two and wrote a pretty good final and I ended up with the same marks. All the other math, science, and computer courses weren’t too different from the first term courses, so I cruised through them as well. The only “brand new” course I had in second term was an English essay writing course. English, in short, is the bane of my existence. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, since if you read my guide on BC’s provincial exams, you know that I actually got an A in grade 12 English. University English is however a different story. It’s not that it was ridiculously difficult to pass. English was actually an easy course to pass, since there wasn’t much work involved, but it was very difficult to get a high mark, so in the end English became my lowest mark of the whole year, but I still got a B. I’ve always been a math/science type of guy so a B in a language arts course was an okay mark for me. This essay-writing course is probably the last English course I have to take, so I (hopefully) don’t have to worry about this stuff in my second year.

Overall my first year of university went pretty well. I managed to get some decent marks, and through my workouts, I also became a little stronger than I was at the start of the school year. At the beginning of the first term, I was thinking that even though I was one of the “smart kids” in high school, there would be a lot of people who are smarter than me at university. As it turns out that there are a lot of very smart people at the school, but I still seem to get better grades than most of the people in my year and faculty (I don’t know about other faculties or people in other years). Obviously that’s good news for me, and I hope I will be able to maintain my grades through the next few years at university.

Although I had a successful academic year at the university, I didn’t do so well when it came to the social aspect of school life. After spending nearly seven months in school, and usually with the same groups of people, I still don’t know the names of the majority of people in my classes. The only people I knew fairly well were the people who went to the same secondary school as me. Through the school year, I didn’t make any new friends nor did I participate in any sort of extra-curricular group activity other than the math club, which I went to for the free food. I’ll try harder next school year to be a little more social and participate in more stuff. For my program, second year is when people pick their specializations, so I’ll probably be taking courses with the same small group of people, so hopefully I’ll make some new friends or even acquaintances by the end of next April. I’ll also try joining a few more clubs as well. If my schedule permits, I’ll go back to the math contest club again. It’s worth going just for the food. My mentions of the math club and free food in this article must have made you think that I am one of those people who let their stomachs lead the way. I assure you that I am not one of those people, though my stomach can get the better of me some of the time. Also I’ll try to fit workouts into my schedules again. It’s a shame not to take advantage of my school’s facilities and also it’s unhealthy to sit and study all day and not do any exercise.

My outlook for the next school year is a cautiously optimistic one. Just because I did well in year one doesn’t necessarily mean I can just cruise through year two. I’ll have to work just as hard if not harder to get the grades I want. Hopefully I’ll be able to get good mark, make some new friends, and generally have another enjoyable school year. Anyways, now it’s time for me to enjoy my long five month summer vacation. I got lots of stuff to do this summer so no more “sit at home/watch TV/surf the net/play games/eat/sleep” type of vacation for me, which is a good thing by the way. Lastly, I hope you all will have a great summer, or winter if you are in the southern hemisphere. Thanks for reading this article.

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