Ever since I was a kid, maybe around 7 or 8 years old, I’ve dreamt of entering university one day. That’s because my older sister got into university and my family and I followed her there on the first day. I was mesmerized by the whole place. I thought that only the smartest people in the whole wide world only got to study at such a huge place. Do bear in mind that I was a naive 7 or 8-year-old clueless kid at that time, so like I said, I wasn’t that smart yet. =)
Well, I still cannot believe that last year, I got accepted into the same university as my sister! And boy, was I taken aback by the differences I encountered there. Believe me, uni is not anything like school at all. Let me introduce to uni life now.
Difference No. 1
The lecturers won’t spoon-feed you like how your school teachers did. On the first day of class, you’ll only be given the course outline and the reading list. After that, you’re supposed to find all the books in the list by yourself at the library.
I was lucky this semester because the required readings were already available. The photostat lady was there outside my class, so I only needed RM40 to buy the photocopied readings that were already put together and stapled neatly.
Well, my sister said she wasn’t as lucky as university students are today. Last time, it seems that they had to read everything themselves and there was no one who would explain anything to them, it seems. But now, we know how many units we are supposed to take, what courses we have to go for, etc. Everything is prepared ready for us. It’s just up to us, the students, to take the initiative to study hard!
But back to the main topic. Some lecturers won’t care if you don’t attend class or if you attend class late. However, if you missed 3 classes, then there’s a chance that you’ll be barred from sitting for the exams. And if you attend class late, then you’ll have missed what the lecturer covered earlier. They also won’t care if you understand the class or not. It’s up to you to go up to them and bombard them with questions. Some lecturers are happy when students ask questions. It’s a pity that most students choose to stay quiet when the lecturer asks, ‘Are there any questions?’
Difference No. 2
Your timetable will be messy. Unlike school, your classes will be scattered throughout the day and truthfully, I hate it! I really miss those normal 8 am - 1 or 2 pm school hours. Now, my schedule goes something like this:
9 - 11 am – Class
4 – 5 pm – Tutorial
5 – 7 pm – Swimming
12 – 1 pm – Tutorial
5 – 7 pm – Class
8 – 12 pm – Class
8 – 10 pm – Class
Thursday and Friday are the same. Scattered classes throughout the day. Actually, mine isn’t so bad. There are some people who have classes the whole day, maybe from 9 am until 8 pm with one-hour breaks between classes. Yeah, that’s crazy, I know, but I think they are students from management school or the science stream people.
Difference No. 3
You’ve got to be more independent in university. No mummy to cook you home-cooked meals every day. But if you live near home, then lucky you. If not, you’re stuck with the cafeteria food although some stalls are not that bad. If you don’t want to eat at the cafeteria every single day, you can opt to go to the coffee shops outside the uni, if there are any. They may not be home-cooked but it’s something different at least.
Some students probably have to do their own laundry for the first time when they go to uni. It was quite fun to go to the bathroom and there are people there scrubbing and cleaning their clothes. Yeah, you’ll get backache but you need clean clothes, right? If you’re too lazy to wash your clothes by hand, you can use the washing machines! Yes, there are washing machines but you have to put in coins for it to work. It’s RM2 for one wash. But, I have a friend who doesn’t wash her clothes at the hostel but brings them back home to wash at the end of the week. Ah, the smell!
Difference No. 4
At school, you’ll meet your classmates every day and then get to know them easily, right? At uni, you won’t get to know all your course mates in the first semester. That’s because there are so many of them and you won’t meet them every day. It depends on the courses all of you are taking. Maybe you’ll meet some people more often than others. So, basically, you’re meeting new people almost every day until you won’t be able to recall their names. I only got to know some course mates in my second semester. I’ll try to get to know the rest next semester.
It’s unfortunate that the students still prefer to stay in cliques, like Chinese students mix more with their Chinese friends, Indians with their Indian friends, and Malays with their Malay friends. I would really like to see everyone mixing with everyone. There are some people who do mix around and good for them!
Difference No. 5
In uni, you’re in charge of your own life! Nobody, and I mean NOBODY will boss you around or nag at you. Your parents won’t be there to wake you up in the morning, they won’t scold you if you go online for hours, nobody will force you to go to your room and study, etc. Well, if you have friends who are bossy and force you to study, it’s good because then, you’ll actually study.
If you don’t study, you won’t be able to participate in tutorial classes and then you won’t know how to answer during exams too. If you go online too much, you won’t have time to study. It’s easy to get lost in cyber world because there are free Wi-Fi spots all over campus. But do make sure you spend your time wisely. Don’t get too caught up blogging or chatting on MSN because then, you’d have wasted time that you should have spent on studying.
Another thing: assignments. Your lecturer will give you assignments probably around the 1st or 2nd week of the semester. Then you’ll have to hand in the assignment around the 10th week. So you’ll have about 8 weeks to do research and write out your assignment. Unfortunately, most people (I’m not sure if it’s most people or not but so far, it’s MOST people) only start doing their assignments one week before the due date, which is not very good. Because then, your assignment won’t look good as it’s last minute work and the lecturer might give you a C+ at most.
Therefore, it’s better if you get started on assignments early as you’ll have other things to do throughout the semester, for example meetings to attend, group presentations to prepare, and lots of other things that’ll take up a lot of your time. In short, you’ll be busy.
So…how was that, huh? Did I enlighten you on life in uni? My experience may not be the same as other undergraduates’ but it’s quite general and you may expect something like this when you’re there. Anyway, it’s fun because you can join lots of exciting activities, clubs, societies, and then you’ll meet lots of new people, some you may like, some you may not like so much, etc.
But the most important thing is, you’ll experience new things. You’ll learn a lot from your courses, your activities, your friends and your lecturers. You will learn to stand on your own two feet. University really prepares you for life. But then, don’t forget to enjoy yourself while learning hard at the same time!
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