Recently, I have received a lot of questions about how was my first year of university and how did I survive the change. And I thought it would be a good idea to tell you a couple of things about my first year at university and some advice I would have liked to receive in that period.
First of all, my first year of university was in Romania where I was accepted to do Mathematics at University of Bucharest. It was something completely than expected and I was quite depressed at first. If you believe it or not, my first mark for a 20 pages homework was 2/10. I was destroyed, I didn’t know if I want to do it anymore. Then the next test didn’t really improve my scores, I got a good 3/10. It was horrible for me and I didn’t know if this is what I wanted. I had thought about changing the subject, the university and everything. The next thing that happened was an unexpected discovery of an organisation that helped students study abroad. I thought this could be a good change for me. Due to some personal things (family, friends etc) I have decided to go to University of Aberdeen, but I thought I will give mathematics a second chance. The thing was that I had to start all over, but that didn’t go wrong in my mind. I wanted to start all over again and see if I can do better. I felt I needed a second chance at things. A different system, different country, different people, far away from home. There were more problems, than the mathematics. But for some reason, mathematics worked better, I rediscovered why I liked it and why I decided to do it. With this kind of long story, here are a couple of advises for anyone that is in they first year of university:
- Talk with your teacher(s) and supervisor(s). This is the most important part of all. If you think you have problems understanding things, if you think your grades are lower, or anything related, the best people to talk to are the ones that teach you. I know that some might be more busy than others, but try everything. Also a department doesn’t have just one teacher, so have the courage to talk with any member of staff, every small tip is helpful.
- Talk with your classmates. This was one of the things I didn’t do at all. In high-school I was the best in my class and I felt ashamed to recognize I am struggling. I never asked my classmates anything. I think that understanding that you are not the best and that asking fellow students is not shameful are 2 important aspects. Go over this discomfort and ask them, this way you could also find incredible people and start new friendships.
- Attend classes. This sounds strange, but I had this small problem. At university not all the classes were compulsory. It gives you the feeling of freedom and the sensation that you can miss one or two from time to time. But, OMG… this could go so wrong… And then you realize in the exam period that you should have attended all of them. Just go to all of the classes, even the additional ones, the extra related talks, everything…
- Go with questions at revision lectures. Revision lectures are for the teacher to answer questions, so ask as many as you can. I never prepared anything for these lectures and I thought that teachers will come up with exam related questions, but never happened. It sounds like a lot of work to prepare questions for all of the revision lectures, but try to have at least one or two, you don’t have to go through all the material to have some questions.
In the end, I would like to recommend a book that went with me in the first year of university and it helped me a lot. I am talking about: What Is Mathematics? An Elementary Approach to Ideas and Methods. This book covers a lot of topics and gives a small introduction into the more advanced mathematics that are necessary for a first year of university. This book was recommend by one of my favorite teachers and it helped me a lot. I recommend you have a look and after checking the chapters it covers, decide if you want to buy it or not.
Hope these advises will help you at surviving in your first year of university and the changes you are going through in that period. If you have anything else to add to my list, feel free to comment down bellow.
Thank you for your help and support. You can find me on Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, Twitter,Instagram and Lettrs, I will try to post there as often as possible. Don’t forget that maths is everywhere! Enjoy!