I still remember the moment I stepped foot onto the University of Bath campus. It was the beginning of Freshers' Week and I had a flurry of emotions going through me. On one hand, I was excited for a new chapter of my life as an undergraduate student in a new country. While on the other hand, it was bittersweet as I was leaving home.
As I stood against the University of Bath sign on the parade staircase, I visualized what I wanted to experience and achieve in the next 3 years. With the best wishes from my family and friends, I embarked on this journey and with a blink of an eye, it has come to an end. I have learned a lot in the last 3 years and this is my takeaway on the biggest lessons university has taught me!
1) Stepping out of your comfort zone is the first step toward success
It is easy to be within your comfort zone and not want to explore beyond it as you feel safe. Making that extra effort to get to know your flatmates during Freshers' Week, trying out new activities, taking on leadership roles, networking with industry professionals at formal events etc are all scenarios where you can get to know yourself and the people around you better.
Being nervous as a fresher is completely normal, take it from me! I was definitely intrigued by the world of opportunities in front of me but that also made me excited to explore my options and build my university life from scratch. There were so many moments when I felt uncomfortable and challenged but that is a sign of growth.
If someone had told me in the first year that I would be the Academic Representative for my cohort with over 120 students, I would have been surprised. Pushing yourself that extra mile is what university is about because this is the chance you have, so make the most of it.
2) All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
Extra-curriculars are as important as academics and a balance between both is vital for an enjoyable university life. Not only does it relieve stress during deadline season, but it also gives you the opportunity to hone your talents and possibly develop new skills. The University of Bath wants to support the all-rounded development of students and has several resources and opportunities for students to explore beyond studies.
The Students' Union is home to 100+ societies and there is probably a society for every skill/hobby you can think of! (There is a Harry Potter Society too, I know, I freaked out too!) If there is something you are skilled at, there is an option to share it with fellow students via an existing society or start your own society for it.
I am extremely passionate about Indian classical dance and I was determined to spread my passion for dance at the University as well. I was able to conduct workshops through the Indian Society and Tamil Society and got to perform in cultural events held by the Dance & Salsa society. Keeping yourself occupied with such activities not only enhances your creative capacity but also makes your university life wholesome.
3) Importance of making connections
I didn't realise the importance of networking until my second year when it was time to apply for placements. Reaching out to previously met employers was considered valuable. Make it a point to remember the name and contact details of people you meet at formal events and campus open days because it is always great to reach out to them later. LinkedIn is an exceptional tool for doing this.
4) Put your physical and mental wellbeing first
University is challenging and it will not always be smooth sailing. Homesickness, assignments, imposter syndrome, and job hunting stress among many others can take a toll on your wellbeing. It is in your hands to emerge beyond it and persevere through these challenges.
Always remember to take time for yourself. There will always be something happening in your life but unless you take a stand for yourself, no one else will. If you have to wind down and reflect on yourself, do it!
If you want to take time for your body and go for a jog, do it! These are the things that will make you feel better amidst the pressures. Health is wealth, whether it is physical or emotional, remember to embrace it!
5) Reach out!
Whether it is reaching out for wellbeing support or academic support, be sure to reach out to someone if you need help! Unless you speak up and seek the resources you require, no one will know what you need. Your Academic Tutor, Student Experience Officer, Peer Mentor, Professors and Director of Studies among many others are there to help you with any query you may have.
Interacting with your Professors and Academic Tutors is also a great way of establishing long-lasting relations. They are there to help students and are extremely easy to talk to. Building a rapport with them allows you to not only understand your module thoroughly but is also useful in receiving after-university advice. I am so glad to have been taught by the wonderful staff at the University who have supported me throughout the last 3 years!
6) Long-lasting relationships
University is the place you will make new friends and build relationships with different people. While it takes time to find the right people, you will eventually get there! Your vibe attracts your tribe, so be who you are to attract the best energy.
You always want to surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you and leave you feeling energised. So remember to be patient and be your authentic self when you go out there and meet new people. Friendships may also form in the most unexpected situations.
You won't believe the number of close friends I have made just by speaking to someone on the bus or in a classroom! So don't be shy to put yourself out there! I have been so lucky to find such amazing friends at university and will forever cherish the memories I have made with them.
7) Remember who you are and what you stand for
Peer pressure is quite common at university as you want to fit in and be involved in what everyone else is doing. There is nothing wrong with being flexible and accommodating with plans, in fact, that's what university teaches you. However, if you are pressured to do something you are not comfortable with or negates your beliefs and values, be sure to voice your opinions and step back from the situation. People will always respect you for what you stand for, only if you respect yourself.
Having said the above, one of the main elements of university life is academics. Timetabling is a great way of keeping your studies in check and being up-to-date with course content. Remember, consistency is key.
You don't want to be in a situation where the exam is a day away and you're on lecture 1! Small efforts every day lead to successful results. Regardless of the percentage, when you look back at university after you graduate, you want to feel fulfilled and that you tried your best. Over the last 3 years, I have been able to identify my strengths and weaknesses within my course and implement them during exam preparation to achieve the best outcome.
University definitely shapes you into an all-rounded individual and teaches you to be independent, resilient and passionate about your dreams. It feels so surreal to say that I have graduated from the University of Bath and have officially become an alumni, but what is even more fascinating is the amount of growth and clarity university life can provide! I thank my family, friends, professors and everyone who guided me through the last 3 years, it would not have been possible without them!
I wish you all a very successful, happy and healthy university life and hope you achieve whatever you set your mind to. I also hope you are able to benefit from my blog!
So good Neha! Congratulations and I’ll miss you!