It’s a weird feeling that I’m halfway through my uni days already. It doesn’t seem that long since I arrived in Aberdeen for Freshers’ Week, but now the real hard work is on the way and in a sense everything that I’ve done in education has built up to these next two years. No pressure.
The best thing about 2nd year was living in a proper flat. Halls was a good experience, and I don’t think your university experience would be complete without going into halls for 1st year, but having the freedom of your own place is so much better. My room in Johnson Halls was okay, and I grew to quite like it, but it’s nothing compared to my double-bed and en suite set up in my new flat. I’m only ten minutes’ walk away from classes, far from a hardship, and am just a minute away from the convenience heaven of Lidl. Instead of being stuck with the mass-produced and consistently inconsistent food of The Hub each night for dinners this year I’ve been able to cook what I want. Or order pizza in. Instead of cramping into a room with a few friends to watch something and spend time together we have a great living room where we can watch TV, Netflix or play Xbox. Having your own flat and paying for everything was surprisingly cheaper than living in halls as well. It’s been better living in a flat on almost every level compared to halls, apart from the slight detraction of being further away from town.
The actual university courses I had this year were much the same as the year before and that made things seem a little easier. Knowing exactly how the pace of work is and how the courses run has made planning my work and revision in 2nd year a bit easier. Things have got a bit more specialised in my classes, as they move beyond the general skills needed for the subject into more detailed analysis of things, which has made them more interesting. But nothing has really got that much harder. I’ve coped pretty well I think this year, with results that are just as good, if not a little better, than last year. I still wonder if I’m doing enough at uni, with only 10 hours of classes a week and little to do aside from the odd assignment at home. After working for just over a week full-time again, I almost miss the bliss of long lies and easy days of just a few classes at uni. It’s going to get harder, I know that, but for now uni’s not been too difficult, thankfully.
I got a little more involved in societies and the like at uni this year, and it has definitely helped to add some fun and experience to it. I started working for the uni’s student newspaper, The Gaudie, working to put the articles online and helping with the website in general. It’s a bit hectic every fortnight when all of the articles come in and have to be put online as soon as possible, but on the whole it’s been good experience combining two of the things I enjoy working on most: websites and journalism. Hopefully I’ll have a few articles of my own in there next year as well!
Without a doubt the most fun thing about uni this year was intramural football. Essentially it’s a football league for uni students who form their own teams amongst friends, but as good as it was for a regular kick-about, something I’d missed desperately in 1st year, it became more competitive and exciting than I imagined. It helped that we had a good team in each semester. We weren’t the best side in either league, but gave a good account of ourselves in each. We won games by the maximum of 5 goals a few times and had some intense close games that ended with only one or two in it. The ritual of going for McDonalds beforehand and psyching ourselves up for the mid-afternoon games was great. Having something like that to look forward to each week really made the slower ones go by that much faster, and I can’t wait to do it all again next year – with a team that’s played together and will hopefully be able to win!
So second year is over and I’m at the half-way house. It’s going to be a fair bit tougher next year I’m expecting, as I really have to do as well as possible to get a good degree. I think it’ll go by even faster, as things like dissertations and projects get more time-consuming and research-heavy. I think I’m up to it, as I think there’s still a bit more effort I could be putting into my work.
My main feeling towards the next two years, though, is that I’m ready to stop learning. I’m enjoying uni on the whole, without a doubt, but I’ve never really enjoyed the premise of having to go somewhere to learn and having the intense pressure of exams. I’d much rather be doing something and using what I’ve learned than finding out about it. I’d rather be accomplishing something that I can see the results of right away than spend hours on reading up on a topic that I might never need to know about again. As tough as it is to go from 10 hours of classes a week to 8 and a half hours of work a day, the amount I accomplish over summer at work is amazing compared to what I really get done at uni. After 15 years in education, I’m pretty excited to be free of it soon.
Summer is here and it’s going to be a good one. I’ve had a good 2nd year at uni, and as much hard work as they’re going to be, I’m looking forward to getting through the next two years too.