Yesterday, I finally started my Masters course.
It’s only been four months since graduation, although it’s felt like a lifetime. As soon as I stepped back on to that campus, it felt like I’d never left.
I’ll admit, university is not for everyone, but personally I enjoy every part of it… well, perhaps the only exception being presentations.
For many of you reading this, you’ll have already started your studies or have perhaps even finished them. You’ll agree, then, that there’s a certain knack to being a student.If you simply turned up to lectures, took notes and wrote assignments, the experience isn’t exactly anything to shout about. Dealings with poverty, poor diets and alcoholism are usually prevalent in media representations of the experience. In reality, however, it’s the little things that make it worthwhile.
The candid reality of being a student is that you can delay entering the world of full-time employment, making the most of what little time you have left in education, in whatever way you choose.
Of course, the legitimate reason is to cultivate your knowledge within your chosen field, but who are we kidding?
Recently, I was watching the ‘Modern Warfare’ episode of Community (one of the most relatable shows out there) where the entire campus engages in a paintball war. This episode garnered acclaim from critics and viewers alike; TIME critic James Poniewozik declared it the third best TV episode of 2010:
“A lot of sitcoms can make you laugh. It’s a rare one that can so fully share the sense of joy its cast, writers and crew have in making the show.”
Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), having woken up 28 Days Later-style, midway through the battle, finds Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) and discovers that the prize for ‘Last Man (or Woman!) Standing’ is the ill-conceived fallacy of Priority Registration:
Jeff: What is this prize? Troy: You don't know? Abed: Priority registration. J: Priority registration? A: That's why everyone's running around like a bunch of -- J: Does that mean what I think it means? Like you could have first choice of your classes next semester... but you could schedule all of your classes on a Monday and then take a six-day weekend. A: You could do a lot of things... Every student wants that prize, Jeff.
I feel that this episode accurately sums up the best of student life: the random encounters of brilliance that you create with your peers.
Ironically, this year our post-graduate timetable is exactly that: all day Monday, nothing more, nothing less… not even Abed could argue with that!
Finally, before I spend 1000 words convincing you to watch Community again, I’d like to provide some steps for any first-years or returnees out there reading this post:
Three Steps to Mastering Uni
- Forge friendships: this one is surprisingly easy. You and your classmates are stuck with each other for a long time. You already have an established common ground – you’re studying the same course. Work with it, be open-minded, and you’ll easily make friends for life. That’s not to say you have to become best friends with everyone – take the time to learn things about your peers, listen and you’ll be amazed at the stories you hear!
- Embrace the extra-curricular: Universities have as many activities on offer as they have courses, make the most of them in your time there; they enrich your experience and help take your mind from assignments. For me, Sunderland Uni’s Cineclub is a personal favourite: students and lecturers alike meet to watch a film, hold a discussion afterwards, then continue the discussion at the pub down the road.
- Learn: pay attention in lectures; you’re paying to learn, not to get a piece of paper declaring your degree – it’ll be worth it.
(If you’re still here, I’m impressed! I feel I may still be in the honeymoon period having just returned.)
Thanks for reading, you lovely people.
Before you go, I recommend you check out Caitlin’s blog The Manchester Effect.
Caitlin is a student at Manchester Metropolitan University and posts frequently regarding student life there, it’s a fantastic read that frequently resonates a lot with my thoughts of being a Uni student.
I’m sure it will with most of you fellow students who read this post, too.