The First Day of University
It’s been almost four years since that day. But I can still remember the first day of university just like it happened today. I went to the class with so much of excitement. I was excited about all the things that I was going to learn. All the people that I was going to meet. I was a tiny bit nervous too. The professor gave a brief introduction of himself. Subsequently, he started calling out each name in the class register to distribute the name tents. As he went down the list, I started thinking about how he will mispronounce my name to amuse myself. Each person I meet comes up with a weird pronunciation of my name. Sometimes they even add extra letters as if my name wasn’t long enough. Chandrika, Chandika, Chandralicka, Chandralekh, Chandralick, Chandralenkha. I have heard it all(I was wrong; a professor would call me “Daughter of Thanabalan” in the future but I didn’t know that then). When he was done with the B’s, I got ready to get up to collect my name tent(which is something that NUS Business students are too familiar with). The only issue was that he didn’t call my name. Maybe he is going to call me by my father’s name, “Thanabalan”. Nope. He started saying the U’s. He probably missed my name, I reassured myself. I waited until the end. He didn’t call out my name. My name was not on the list. I was in the wrong class. I got out of the class. I was more than half-an-hour late for my actual class. I was lucky; the prof was totally cool with it. When the prof started teaching, I remember just staring at the prof with my hands cupping my face and swinging lightly. You know like in the movie 3 idiots.
It was happening. I was feeling elated. Completely contented at that moment. I was going to study hard, get my first class honours and kick ass in life. Reality would kick in soon enough like a brick hitting a glass. (Score: Lekha- 0, Life-1) To reduce my disappointments, I shifted the goalpost nearer and nearer to myself. First class honours became second upper honours. Second upper honours became second lower honours. Before you look down on second lower honours or third class honours and say that “if you had worked hard enough, you would have gotten first class honours”, I would like to remind you that with the bell curve system, there would definitely be second upper and second lower honours. It’s almost like a rule of nature. It’s about whether you do better than the rest and that depends on so many other factors. Some don’t spend three hours daily on the train. Some don’t have to work part-time to foot the tuition fees. It is not a level playing field. Some would call these plain excuses. I call them privileges(or the lack of it). That was one of the first lessons university had to offer.
Sometimes I do wonder if a university education is absolutely necessary. Since the content being taught is from textbooks, I could have gained that knowledge from the textbook itself. I could have gone to the library instead. Like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. Besides, there are tons of free online content on YouTube. I could have chosen what I wanted to study without being forced to take a set of core modules. I could have gained that knowledge without having to pay over $30k for that paper. But that’s it. University education is just a paper qualification. A ticket to that job interview.
Okay, I shall not be so pessimistic. To be fair, university teaches you life skills and a lot about life. But I do wish I had known some things from the start itself.
22 Things I Learnt*
*Follow at your own discretion.
- Instead of having four hours of uninterrupted sleep, sleep for an hour, do work for an hour, sleep for another hour, and do work for another hour. That way you would have completed work for two hours as well as slept for two hours. Sleeping for four hours straight would leave you more tired than this plan. This is not healthy. But this sleeping pattern helped me to get through university life as well as get some sleep.
- Doing work at 2am after getting some sleep is much more productive than doing work through the night without getting any sleep.
- Making someone travel 3 hours(to and fro) for a half an hour meeting is NOT cool. Hint: Skype and Google Hangouts exist for a reason.
- If anything can go wrong, it will(Murphy’s law). You can never be fully prepared to handle all uncertainties. But you can prepare to have the right attitude to deal with them.
- Chat rooms in the library can also be used for crying.
- Chai latte from The Spread will save lives.
- Be kind to others – even if you haven’t been treated well.
- You don’t have to react to everything immediately. You have no control over what happens to you but you have control over your reaction.
- Meditate. You’ll need it to stay sane – enough said.
- When submitting hardcopy handwritten assignments, make sure that all pages have been submitted. You might discover a page of your assignment buried beneath your lecture notes two days later. When that happens, say aal izz well and try not to faint. Haha!
- Say no’s. Skip the small talk.
- Don’t worry too much about not getting a job. Have faith in yourself.
- There will always be assignments and projects. Throw that aside and go out sometimes.
- Know that some prefer lies to truths.
When your tutor asks if you have done your tutorial, say yes.Kidding.
- Go beyond what’s taught in school with my favourite YouTube channel, The School of Life.
- Read. Not just fictional books but non-fiction books as well. I know that there are so many of them and that’s where the Blinkist app comes in. You can read the 15-minute summaries and if that particular book really interests you, you can go borrow it from a library or buy it.
- Evernote is a cool note-taking app to throw everything into. This is where my preliminary drafts and ideas for my blog posts and articles to read go.
- Solve the issue of having an excessive number of tabs on your Chrome browser when working on your projects with Toby
- Block out all those annoying ads on sites with Adblock. (This doesn’t actually have anything to do with university actually.)
- Block out all those distracting websites with Work Mode. (Pls continue reading my blog posts though. Haha)
- Better manage your time using the Pomodoro technique with Pomotasking.
- Have a particular music which you’ll listen to for high concentration work. These are mine:
I hope that this post was useful or interesting. At least a wee bit.
Note: I wasn’t paid for this post though I think that I should be. Haha!
Till my next post, STAY CURIOUS! 🙂