Lessons learned / LIFE

On redoing my first year of university

A few days ago my friend Marcella Purnama wrote an article that got me thinking. If I had the chance to redo my first year of university, what would I do differently?

The question lingered on my mind. I had thought about it before, but had never put it into words.

I started reminiscing my first year. I was eighteen and had just left my home country to begin studying in a foreign land. I had no friends. I was scared.

My parents arranged for me to live with my Aunt, her husband, and their two sons. Their house was lovely, but it was an hour and thirty minutes away from university. Everyday I had to walk up a steep walkway to the bus stop (fifteen minutes), then rode a bus to the CBD (one hour), and walked fifteen minutes from the CBD bus stop to my school. It was torture walking in the winter, because it was always hot in Indonesia, but winter in Auckland could reach minus 10 degrees. I moved out on my second year and started living on my own in an apartment ten minutes away from uni.

I enjoyed my classes and did well in almost all of them. I had classes everyday, with long breaks in between.

I didn’t join any clubs. I volunteered a lot at my church. I had very few internships and even fewer part-time jobs.

University ended three years ago. I got my Bachelor’s Degree, lived in Auckland an extra year and moved back home. Those were challenging but enjoyable times. I grew up a lot. I had no regrets, but, given the chance to redo my first year, I still would’ve done a few things differently.

I would not miss my university orientation. The other students seemed to form their friendships during orientation, so on my first day it was awkward sitting alone watching the others talked endlessly about orientation. Also, it would help to know where my classes were beforehand. I got lost a lot on my first week.

I would not waste money buying the new edition of all prescribed textbooks. Thank God I understood this on my second year. By then, I bought almost all of my books second-hand or borrowed them from the library.

I would’ve done more internships and part-time jobs.

I should never, ever took these subjects: New Zealand Literature (I was always wrong in interpreting every NZ poems), Visual Communication (I didn’t understand Adobe Photoshop), and Project Communication (I thought I’d get to learn about event planning, but instead it was a business paper and I barely passed).

I would take more writing subjects. I love writing and by taking more writing classes, I could get into journalism (instead of PR) in my third year.

I would make more friends.

I would join clubs.

I would volunteer more for different organisations.

I would participate more in classes.

The list goes on. One thing is clear: I did some mistakes I am not proud of and made some bad choices. I was young and inexperienced.

If I could go back in time, I would. But sadly time machine does not exist. The clock’s always ticking. I must move forward.

The past I cannot change, but I have learned from it. I don’t repeat the same mistakes. I try my best to make better choices everyday. I have made more friends. I am now involved in more organisations. I write everyday. I run my own business.

I am in a much better place right now than I was six years ago. I don’t need to go back in time. Life’s good.


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