By Kiera Thornton
It sure is wonderful to be back. I recall viewing the timetable at the start of the first semester and thinking about how much I would enjoy the long winter break, planning to balance productivity with relaxation.
Well, I must inform you all that I was drastically incorrect. I have just had the dullest and most boring six weeks of my life. Up until New Years, I was kept reasonably busy between my job, preparing for the holiday season and going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens several times, but, following that, after my contract at work ended and the busy part of the holidays settled down, I was lost for what to do. Of course, I had great plans for the few weeks, including volunteering, writing and revising, but they were unsurprisingly lost to hours spent on the computer staring at Tumblr and Facebook.
Now I am all set to be back at university and raring to go for the new semester. I anticipate walking down the tree-lined path past the main gates for the first time in a while soon. My motivation took a bit of a hit when I received my new timetable, admittedly. It would be overly pessimistic of me not to point out that it could have been significantly worse – my hours are spread evenly across the days for the most part, I start later on Friday and finish early most days – but some of my hours make society activities a bit more awkward than before and I am most disappointed to not have escaped the barbarian tyranny that is finishing late on Friday. Even though my evening tutorial on Friday is in my favourite module, I feel as if I will struggle to be as enthusiastic as I should be about it. I’m sorry, it doesn’t matter how much I like you, but if you dare invade my Friday I have no tolerance, none whatsoever.
I suppose I should encourage positivity within the page in print I’m privileged to have. I pledged to learn from some of the mistakes I made last semester. To my credit, I like to think I had a fairly good first semester both academically and socially but, let’s face it, there are always going to be certain bits I can improve on. For myself, I want to focus on procrastinating less and mixing with others more, and, self-contradictory as those two may sound, I believe it is possible to fulfill both.
On top of that, I seek to keep up some of the good work in getting assignments done well in time and upholding my attendance and punctuality. At the time of writing I have not yet received my exam results but it is fair to say that the chance of me getting five A1s is minimal, so whatever I do fall down on I will be looking to perfect. Lest I forget, as a language student, I need to spend way more time in the Language Learning Hub than I did last semester. With all the gaps in my timetable, there is, quite frankly, no excuse. Any deficiency in my results in those exams can be directly blamed on the lack of time I committed to spending in the LLH.
Speaking of exams, those feel like a very distant memory now for something that was the main focus of my life for weeks. Looking back on them gives me a mixture of accomplishment and unease. Could I have done worse? Most certainly. Could I have done better? Probably. There is no point in looking back because short of rapid advancement in time travel technology I won’t be able to change anything when they’re still relevant. Instead I look to the future and the semester ahead.
My overall feeling for the new semester is one of excitement, because who wouldn’t be excited? Getting up super early most mornings, tons of assignments only to culminate in exams that will likely be more stressful than the last set, it really is living the dream. In all seriousness, I am quite excited. It may be an academically challenging semester but I relish the challenge. There are other things to look forward to as well, namely society activities and, of course, publishing more world-class (totally being objective) articles in An Focal and telling people to read my world-class articles in An Focal.
In addition to that, I recently realised that I actually only have two more semesters on campus at UL before co-operative education and studying abroad. That is two more semesters until I spend two away from the university. It tends to be something that students are excited about but, for me, the idea of spending time away is quite anxiety-inducing.
Just after I have settled into life at UL after my first three semesters here, I will be leaving again, being plunged into a brand new environment once more. It isn’t a case of being against going away but it is mildly terrifying at the same time, though I suppose it really just encourages me to make the most out of the time I have on campus here. When you put it into perspective, it is going to be a relatively small portion of my life, yet also an extremely important part of it, and determination to take advantage of it will be key.
I digress, let’s return to the present, shall we? The first problem I can see myself encountering in the coming weeks is that academic success, particularly in my discipline, requires a lot of consistent work not just to achieve a high standard but to uphold that same high standard. Granted, relaxing is not just allowed but very important.
Alas, I might just have taken that principle to a logical extreme over the holidays. Most of my modules are going to build on what I learned last semester and I am more than a bit worried that I have forgotten so much of it that there is little left to build on. I have this nightmarish scenario in my head of sitting in my first lecture of the semester, having everything the lecturer says flying over my head and feeling so frightened and out of place. Hopefully a small bit of revision will be enough to refresh my memory.
All the concerns and nervousness aside, here’s to another great semester. If I was told now that the second half of my first year were to be as enjoyable as the first half, I would be very satisfied, and there is no reason why it can’t be. I wish all my fellow freshers and the student body as a whole the best of luck with the upcoming semester, let’s make it an amazing few months for all!