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Second year: expectation vs reality

Having felt a bit lost as a fresher, now that I am in second year I feel like I’ve finally found my place here in Bristol.

By Zosia Gontar, Second Year Psychology

Having felt a bit lost as a fresher, now that I am in second year I feel like I’ve finally found my place here in Bristol.

I think this has a lot to do with living closer to everything. As lovely it was living in Wills Hall – surrounded by stunning old buildings and gardens – it feels good to now live in a house that is only a 10-minute walk from campus, and with all the shops, cafes and pubs just around the corner. I no longer need to cycle up Whiteladies to get back home from lectures, which last year I did consistently in all weather conditions (such was my hatred of getting on the overcrowded U1). Now, I can get to places using my legs, which feels like a real luxury.

For me, one of the benefits of living closer to campus is that it makes it easier to get involved in societies – the distance and perceived effort are no longer valid excuses not to get involved. Additionally, if you end up living in a small room like mine, and are - like me - someone who compulsively collects things but never throws them away (because ‘I might need this someday’), you might find it gets a bit stuffy. So, a natural solution for this problem is – instead of throwing out things and making space for yourself to live in comfortably – to go outside and find some extracurricular activities to do. Having a messy room is also the best antidote to being a bit shy or introverted, as it will make you want to spend time in other people’s houses, even if only to avoid spending time in your own.

Flickr / Chris Bertram

In terms of the academics, second year is definitely way more challenging and stressful than first year. It can feel like its just deadline after deadline, which are almost immediately followed by exams straight after the Christmas break. The pressure is on, because unlike the year before, this time all of this stuff actually counts towards your final grade. Therefore, if you get overwhelmed by impending deadlines, it is likely this will not be the best time of your life. This is why learning to manage your workload early on is, in my opinion, one of the most important things you can do during your time at uni. Ideally, this is something to do during your first year, when there isn’t too much pressure yet. It will save you a lot of stress.

On the bright side, however, second year is just so much more interesting. The lectures go into so much more depth, and even the lecturers seem more passionate and engaging. They also tend to use more and more complicated terminology, which even if you fail to understand, is fun to occasionally drop in conversations to impress your Dad. After all, isn’t this the reason we all came to university for in the first place – to learn how to sound and appear superior to everyone else?

No, of course I am joking. We all came here to learn about things we care about, as well as change the world, find a hobby, engage in countless societies, find a part-time job, make friends for a lifetime, fall in love, learn how to cook cheap meals, garnish your CV… maybe even win a couple of Nobel prizes, who knows? And also, try not to lose your mind. You can do this!

So, no pressure, none at all.

Featured image: Flickr / shrinkin'violet

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