Dorothy McCarthy

second year student

Institute of Geography & Earth Sciences
 Aberystwyth University
 Llandinam Building
 Penglais Campus
 Aberystwyth
 SY23 3DB

Drm8@aber.ac.uk

The Aberystwyth learning experience

I arrived in the rental car to a packed campus full of new students unloading laden cars into their new abodes. Fresher’s week in Aber was by no means relaxing, with societies and clubs to join, course information to digest and the hectic social life finding time to do normal everyday tasks like washing, cooking and generally preventing your room from looking like it was inhabited by some sort of feral animal was somewhat a challenge.

From day one here in Aber I have been learning. Putting you washing on with no washing powder means they will still smell of the union. Boiling eggs in the microwave makes rather a large mess, and that’s learning before lectures have even started.

From my first seminar I realised this was going to be quite a different experience from A levels or GCSE's. You 'do' A levels, you 'read' for a degree. A differential feature that is so easy to overlook. For a good majority of the first term I had not quite took on the full meaning of this information until it came to preparing for my first set of exams. My lecturers informed us that lecture slides were only the opening lines to the topics covered, and that the majority of information expected from us in exams would be from further reading that had been set. At this point I realised late night partying and late morning rising would probably have been better spent doing that extra reading.

Luckily here at Aber the support staff have seen this all before and the information services were well set to help me buck the late night trend.  Thanks to the library with the assistance of its coffee and chocolate machines, computer and internet access and late night opening hours I was able to buckle down and get back on track with the reading I had missed.  Blackboard and my student email replaced facebook and before long I was back on track with my studies.

After talking with my personal tutor I realised my downfall was not the quality of my work, but the managing of my time. Every moment is precious. The years spent doing a degree will be for many the best of your life, so use your time wisely. You won’t look back in future years and reminisce about hours watching telly and reading magazines, or spending more hours of the day asleep than you did awake.  There are so many opportunities to be had if you are willing to look for them.

Now well into my second year I am the coach of the university cheerleading competition squad, the owner of an allotment gained through the garden exchange scheme, an active member of Aberystwyth’s Transition Town Initiative, have a part time job to cover my rent and am currently toying with my new semester’s timetable to see if there’s enough time to join the sailing club. Although I didn’t believe them at the time my lecturers were right... university is more than just a degree, it’s a life experience, and I plan to have as many experiences as a 24 hour day will allow. It’s the variety of life experiences that you can handle that make you a real asset to any future employer and society as a whole, so “here’s to new experiences, from fresher’s right up to the university Dean. Because every days a school day.

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