Despite part time work and two weeks of work experience ahead, I am finally able to sit back and relax for the summer. Second year went ridiculously quick, it seems like only yesterday I was first moving into Talybont North and using my huge bags of pasta as a door stop. Suddenly, I blinked and now I am back at home preparing myself emotionally for the last year of my undergraduate degree. I do not regret going to Cardiff University at all and though it has gone so quickly, it has not gone without lessons learnt. I thought I would take this time to tell you guys about the 10 main things I have learnt from my second year here at Cardiff University and hopefully you can take this advice with you as you all start your undergraduate journeys in a few months’ time.
1. Everything counts 100% in Second Year: for most undergraduate degrees, the grades you achieve in first year do not count for they are helping you to build the bridge between the academic jump from college to University. But in second year, everything you achieve starts to count towards your degree. Sometimes this has been forgotteen after a long year of just getting used to the teaching and not having to worry too much about your final grades. Remember that you grades do count from this point onwards and sometimes the amount of effort you put forward in first year isn’t enough for second year.
2. Use the library – take advantage of it: in first year I rarely did my essential reading, meaning I rarely went to the library. In second year, it was hard to persuade me to come out of the library. Make sure you take advantage of the resources Cardiff Universities libraries have to offer. I mainly use the Bute library as it’s in my building (Journalism, Media and Communications – JOMEC), but there is also our 24-hour library: Arts and Social Science Library (ASSL). They have books for days, computers, example work and most importantly…a coffee shop just downstairs.
3. Meet with your lecturers: again, in first year I rarely ever met with my lecturers for help with my work. I just tried to figure everything out for myself. But with second year grades counting towards my degree, I took my work more seriously and for every assessment I at the very least got my plans/notes checked over by a lecturer. It’s a great opportunity for them to get to know you more, as well as ensuring that the work you’re producing is the very best possible.
4. Ask for references: after you complete a module within your degree and you feel you’ve done a really great job, you can ask your lecturers for reference (this is also where lesson 3 comes in handy too!). More often that not, they’ll be happy to help and provide you one. These references can help with gaining work experience across summer or internships and jobs when you leave university!
5. Who you live with can make a huge difference to your life: who you choose to live with in second year can hugely affect your experience at University. You want to make sure you genuinely like the people you live with and can get along with them. For if you’re constantly fighting with people it’ll make University seem unbearable – which is absolutely the last thing it should be! So, my advice is to choose people you know well, you get along with and do their dishes in a reasonable amount of time!
6. Go home: make sure you find the time to go home this year. In first year, everything is all about trying to get to know the people you live with and the people on your course that there is rarely any time to go home and visit your family and friends. In second year, make sure to go and visit your ‘rents, (of course, only if you want to!) as it’s a great way to help relieve stress and come back to feeling at one with yourself.
7. Appreciate your friends: sometimes amid all the stress and panic about assessments and exams, it’s hard to appreciate the little things your friends do for you. Even simple things such as asking if you’re okay or bringing you a cup of tea. Second year really opened my eyes to who my true friends are here at University and I made it my mission to know that I appreciate their love and support and to ensure I provided them with the support they needed also throughout their degrees. Like with any academic stage, GCSE’s, college – we all need our friends to help us to get along.
8. Take time to step back and breathe: I have a tattoo of a coffee cup on my left ankle, which is there to remind me that I need to take a step back from life sometimes, drink some coffee and just breathe (I also just, really love coffee). I understand that exams can beyond stressful, thus we all forget that we need to take for ourselves to just relax and bring ourselves back to earth. Sometimes it’s hard to forget that these grades are not who we are. Just something we’ve achieved.
9. Going out does not define your experience at University: I definitely did not go out partying as much this year as I did in first year. I simply felt I didn’t have time with the amount of work I wanted to put into my degree. Some people criticized me for this and claimed I wasn’t getting into the “house spirit”, or really embracing University student life. But, going out does not define your experience at University. Of course, it is a lot of fun to go and party with your friends – but if you don’t, that doesn’t mean you cannot have a good time in other ways. Do not feel peer pressured to do things you don’t want to do because that is what is expected of you as a University student.
10. Remember that it’s nearly over: I was so busy trying to do my work this year that I didn’t really have time to understand the fact that my undergraduate experience is nearly over. This time next year, I will have finished my degree and I will be moving on to the next thing. Being able to understand that my time here at Cardiff University is moving fast makes me realised that I need to take more time to appreciate this experience, as it will never happen again. Grab every moment as it comes and enjoy yourself. As I’ve heard these are the best years of your life, I’ll let you know!
And those are 10 things that I have learnt throughout my second year here at Cardiff University. It has flown by ridiculously quickly and I cannot believe there is one year left to graduation. I look forward to keeping you updated throughout my third year as a Journalism student and hopefully providing you with more useful advice to apply to your time as a University student.
All the best with exams!