As January comes to an end, so does my first semester at university. From realising drinking every night for 8 days straight in freshers week is the worst idea ever to adjusting to 40% being an acceptable grade during my exam period, it’s been one learning curve after another.
Despite being reminded constantly while applying for a maths degree that it was going to be a dry subject, I never appreciated what this meant until I started my course. In secondary school, a lot of my enjoyment in maths came from understanding different concepts, but in all honestly, last semester it took me until the day before all my exams to reach a point where I understood half of my modules.
I’m adjusting to learning differently and to enjoying maths for the sake of maths rather than because it’s easy to understand (because it bloody isn’t anymore). My greatest help in this was removing the pressure I place on myself to achieve the highest grade possible. By accepting I’d be okay with a 40% pass I found myself enjoying learning because it is exciting to understand a theorem rather than panicking because it was only 1 theorem out of 100.
This is obviously not an ideal way to look at exams because my results will affect whether or not I can go on a placement or year abroad, but it was a necessary mind-set to reduce my anxiety to a manageable level so I could revise at all.
Although I did spend the last 3 weeks of this semester almost solely revising, before Christmas I spent most my time cheerleading and ballroom dancing and recently I’ve tried playing squash and badminton. Pre-exam season I met up with veggie soc once a week for dinner and went clubbing a couple of nights a week.
I do enjoy the busy uni lifestyle but trying to get a good balance between studying, socialising, sports and sleep is difficult (dare I say impossible?). Last year I often found myself neglecting at least one of these things so I hope in semester 2 I can find a better way to manage everything and sleep enough to function without starting a caffeine dependency. And unless I’ve actually failed my recent exams, I should probably stop doubting myself and be more positive about studying.
I talk to my friends often about whether I’m in the right place or on the right course but I don’t think there will ever be a right answer to that. For now, I’m going to continue with my course, appreciate the opportunity I have to learn and face the challenges ahead of me and hopefully one day 5 years from now I’ll be working on a sunny coast somewhere making use of my maths degree.