My First Year at Uni: Advice & How I Passed

My summer holiday has already started and I’ve finally got time to look back and reflect. I can tell you, this year has felt like being on an unremitting rollercoaster with ups and downs. The bad thing is that I mostly remember the downs this ride has brought. Some people may say that I’m exaggerating everything, which may be true to some extent, but I cannot help it due to my INFP personality which causes me to feel all the feels, and I don’t think those people realise how everything impacts me.

I started last year’s summer by working full-time at a petrol station until the end of the holiday. Then I had the introduction camp of my study association, which was followed by the start of the academic year, diving straight into lectures and seminars for 7 weeks in a row. During this block, I still worked every Saturday at the petrol station, and the volleyball season had started as well, which took up another 2 or 3 evenings each week. I thought everything was doable, but only a few weeks in, my anxiety showed up again, I got a shoulder injury, and my grandfather got cancer. I managed my way through the first block and passed the exams. I chose to get professional help for both my mental and physical problems, and sometimes that help wasn’t really useful, but every bit is one step further in the good direction.

I wished for the second block to go well, but as things never go my way, it was quite the opposite. My (unrelated) uncle passed away (due to cancer). I didn’t really know him, but still, it was so sad to see my family members suffering. In this block, I had one course in which I excelled, one which I completely failed, and another one, which I partly failed. With my search for help, I received the option to quit the programme at university. I absolutely didn’t want to know anything about that because I liked it, even though it was quite hard. And I am now able to say that I am glad that I made the choice to stay.

During this time (December/January), I got more and more unhappy at my workplace. It wasn’t until a few months later that I quit my job because of the former and my realisation that it wasn’t doable along with uni and volleyball. But the third block was still busy as always, for I still had to work there until April. I already gave up hope for one of the courses of this block, literature from 1550, and decided that I wouldn’t do too much effort for it. A miracle happened, I passed the literature course with a 5.8 (out of 10) and didn’t have to retake the exam. I passed the other courses as well, meaning I had no resits of the third block in the fourth block.

Turning to the fourth block, I was determined to pass the remaining courses, and everything was going suspiciously well. That was until the last few weeks when I had to do 2 essays along with a huge load of other assignments. On the last Monday of classes, my dog died, which made everything worse again. It felt like another downfall. It resulted in not celebrating my birthday. The next five weeks would be within the framework of exams and, again, quite busy. I realised last week that I unofficially passed the year, but yesterday I got both good and bad news. The bad news is that I failed my fourth attempt for the oral exam of English proficiency. The good news, on the other hand, is that I passed my resit exam for multilingualism, which means that I officially have obtained 45 points (out of the possible 60) and can move on to the second year!

My advice for novice students:

  • Focus mainly on your study. Depending on your courses, you will put approximately 40-50 hours per week in it in total. I don’t mean to withhold you from having a part-time job, playing a sport, or being part of a committee. On the opposite, I encourage you to do something besides your study. I am only warning you that you should not do too much, as I did.
  • If things go wrong, and they are out of your hands, or when you have other problems, talk about it! Go seek help, even though it may seem scary. I have never regretted it. Still, to this day, when I have to go to my study advisor, I am terrified. But you have two choices: suffer alone and things won’t get much better, or get help and improve.
  • Make friends! I have met some amazing people, who are all trying to get the best out of each other and all have a passion for the same thing: the particular programme. Another tip: meet them outside of classes to create a stronger friendship.
  • Also, don’t forget about your previously made friendships. My high school friends are still some my best friends.
  • The first weeks or months (or year in my case) may feel overwhelming. Remember, it takes some time to settle, but once you are, it will be wonderful.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Watch your money! I sometimes have these periods when I am spending way too much. You don’t always have to go low-budget, treating yourself every now and then can be really satisfying, and there is nothing wrong with it.
  • Remember, there is always hope.

I have never regretted my choice of English Language and Culture. Of course, I’ve had several thoughts about why I didn’t go into business economics, or whatever I like more. And the fact that I was not sure whether I was going to pass this year has made me think of starting a different programme next year and resulted in having a backup plan. But I like the people and the offered courses, and I don’t want to miss out on those. We’ll see what next year brings. But for now, I’m going to finish reading Harry Potter and enjoy the fact that there is no pressure.


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