what I learnt from four years of university

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What I Learnt From Four Years of University

So, that's it. Four amazing and life-changing years of university at Southampton are done. Finito. Fin. Hecho. I'm still recuperating from the stress of the last few months, which were chock-full of exams and assignments, and by the end of it all I was exhausted. I thought I would reflect on my experience studying Modern Languages and Contemporary European Studies at Southampton, how I've changed as a person and if I would recommend university to others!

Going to university will be a very different experience for each person, depending on what exactly you wish to gain from it. I always wanted to have a varied lifestyle, which for me meant some nights out, good fitness and a mixed group of friends not just from my course. Obviously, during more stressful points of the academic year your priorities have to change a little, but I would say over the four years I managed to keep up a good social and sporting life whilst fitting this alongside study and work commitments.

For me, the first year, like for many, was a real challenge in terms of pushing me slightly out of my comfort zone. Your first few months are your opportunity to meet as many people possible, so I would completely recommend keeping your mind open. Try new activities, say yes to things you wouldn't normally because you'll never know what you may gain from the experience. I hadn't realised it but I have no qualms about doing new things by myself, which is an obstacle a lot of people struggle with, which helped me massively during my year abroad and making friends in general.

My course was quite the challenge at points too. I'd never had to speak up so much during classes, and it only gets easier the more you have to do it. Before going to university my public speaking skills were incredibly shaky - I would get so nervous and worked up. As so many say, it only improves with practise, and my course certainly put me through my paces. In second year, I must have given around 12 or 13 presentations so the sheer amount finally helped me to gain the confidence to at least not show my nervousness, even if on the inside I'm shaking! These helped in my job interviews too, being able to express yourself clearly and confidently is a seriously valuable skill.

Given that my course was comprised of two languages and essay modules, another valuable skill I learnt was the art of multi-tasking, prioritising and managing the stress. Our languages department gave us a lot of work to do, especially in final year and their deadlines were often extremely close to other modules, and the overwhelming workload often left me exhausted and dangerously close to stress cries and comfort eating. However, I still gave everything in on time and made it work, no matter how snowed-under I was feeling.

University is one of those rare opportunities wherein your success is literally in your hands. You've picked the subject you like, and granted, you won't like every module of your course, but you should be there because you enjoy it and further your interest in the topic. Before university I always saw myself as a student who performed better than average, yet never quite reached the very top of the mark scale. However, I saw my degree as a chance to reach those higher marks, because for once I'd chosen subject areas which I enjoyed and generally performed well. I did also work very hard, and I can't stress that enough!

At the end of the day, I would recommend university to anyone if they know their reasons to go. If you decide to go to university, you should aim to get your moneys worth and grab every opportunity you can take. Work hard, but also enjoy the experience as there is nothing comparable to student life once you graduate. I had a wonderful four years studying at Southampton, made some amazing friends along the way, and enjoyed the ups and downs of it all as they happened!

Thanks for reading! Did you go to university? Planning to go? Would you recommend it to others and what did you learn from university?

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What I Learnt From Four Years of University

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5 comments

  1. Hey! I am from Spain and I am finishing my degree in July (I read then my final thesis). It was such a learning curve. First year I made some friends who, specially during the second year, became the most wonderful people I have in my life right now (we are living together next year as some of us are moving to Barcelona to study a Master!!).
    Third year was my erasmus year and it was amazing and also scary and hard from time to time, but I still recommend fiercely to take a year abroad.
    This final year has been stressed, ,but I realized how much I hav grow, learn and improve in various aspects of my student and personal life :)
    I would recommend univeristy if you like (or love) what you are studying. If you don't or are not sure, comfortable or happy about it, don't do it. If even people who like their degree have hard times and think about their decision (I've been there), imagine how could if be if you totally hate it.
    But it is certanly and amazing time and you really become (or come close) to the persona you want to be. I am more me now than four years ago. That's at least my opinion.

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    1. Congratulations for finishing your degree! Very jealous you'll be studying in Barcelona, I'll be heading there for a short holiday in a few weeks time! I would also recommend a year abroad to anyone, such a life-changing experience. Exactly, even if you love your degree there will always be parts you don't enjoy about it, but that doesn't matter as long as you're doing the degree for the right reasons!

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  2. I found this SO interesting. I graduated last year and learnt so much from the four years - it was definitely worth it!

    NINEGRANDSTUDENT: A Lifestyle Blog

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    1. Thank you Chloe! I agree, I changed so much because of my degree, a lot of my confidence I owe to the last four years!

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  3. I opted out of going to university as I had no idea what I wanted to do (still don't) and sometimes I regret it just because I would love to experience the life it gives you for a few years. Even if I eventually choose to go to university in the future, it won't really be the same as being there when you're fresh out of high school. Props for finding a balance between university, fitness and friends; I think you're an absolute rarity for managing to maintain that balance and knowing when to cut back on some of the more fun things for academic purposes.

    Raise The Waves

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