Second Year: A Review
Here we are again.
I thought it would be nice to carry on the annual review of my uni year I guess for both memory and perhaps if there's any public interest - even if there is you're likely to be disappointed...
Am I selling it yet?
To be honest, this year was a bit of a shambles of a shit show, lol. But I will give it credit for being the most formative and lesson-learning year of my life (thus far)...
We started the year probably holding ourselves back a bit. The reason I say this is because I definitely went into second year with first-year-mentality which isn't necessarily a bad thing but it left me expecting and waiting for first year again which, as per with expectations, let me down a bit. Because instead of embracing the changes of second year and enjoying them as a totally new thing, I kept waiting for them to be as they were last year - this is definitely not the case. To anyone going into your 2nd year: don't expect it to be first year. People are more settled, less enthusiastic and all together that freshers buzz is somewhat depleted. After all, you've done first year, a lot has happened, it is what it is - at least that's the kind of feeling I had.
I realise that this sounds incredibly pessimistic. It was not bad or negative or anything like that, first term was actually pretty good, it was just different. And in the same breath, 2nd year had different perks. We finally had our own house that felt a lot more like home, it was our space. Being more settled took so much pressure off of not having to continuously make an exhausting effort to be chatty and make friends because unlike going into 1st year, we actually had friends. We were all a lot more chilled which was definitely a great thing. But I had grown more distant from some people. That scared me and it really upset me due to this 1st year mentality I'm talking about.
This mentality is quite primitive in some ways, very fight or flight. You feel the need to nurture and diligently look after friendships and will do anything and everything within your power to hold onto them. You can become incredibly defensive of them and I think that definitely kicked in for me. Despite having had drifting friendships for years, uni felt different and I convinced myself a loss of friendship was an utter failure. Well, it's not. It's actually called growth and it's something to totally be embraced.
Unfortunately, I spent way too much of my 2nd year trying to amend a particular friendship in which there was no reciprocation, I was being lied to and just being treated as more of an enemy than a friend and yet - I tried to save it because the thought of losing a key part of my first year experience was awful.
Well, that friendship did end up deteriorating and I am so glad it did. This is one of the things that made this year 'great' in terms of lessons. I learnt more than I ever have about self-respect, finding equals in relationships with others (be it friendship or familial), healing, giving people chances... the list goes on.
Now, knowing I was hurting myself more by keeping that friendship than letting it go isn't frustrating but empowering that I had the balls to let it go and I stopped letting myself be treated as a second-class citizen.
In terms of the course, it was a different experience in 2nd year. First off I had significantly less contact time which at first seemed like a blessing - lots of free time, no rush, no work to do on Wednesday or Friday... Well, actually it was awful. I need structure and routine, I talk about this all the time and I just got none with second year. I had on average 3 lectures and 2 seminars a week which is nothing. It didn't stimulate or motivate me and by the time I got to the next week I felt like I had forgotten everything I had done the week before. It's definitely made me choose my modules more cautiously this year, having more of an even spread of modules and things that I will actually do the reading for and care about more.
But that wasn't the worst part...
Then we hit the iceberg that was uni strikes followed by Covid. This has meant I haven't had a lecture or seminar since about end of January/February time. This is the largest gap in my education and learning process I've ever had. Before then I did 4 months after the IB before uni but that was a well, well needed break. I was not ready to stop learning at all and I found this incredibly frustrating. I am still annoyed about this now and feel completely mugged off in what I actually paid for last year in terms of 'uni'. It's made me more anxious for learning this year because not only have I not done it in half a year but I also have no idea STILL (1 week before term starts*) how/where/when my lectures will happen. I feel let down, frustrated and like I've lost half of my uni experience that I'll never get back but be paying off for the rest of my life. It's the failure of a gap year I never wanted.
Sob story right. Not to mention open book 24 hour exams which believe me, for English, are futile. Anyway...
*I wrote this a week ago.
I feel at this point I sound completely defeatist and I think this was massive catharsis for me to be fair, writing this is definitely a venting sesh I didn't know I needed.
But despite having this car crash of a uni year then followed by this completely surreal summer (read here) I have a much more positive outlook on it all then you'd think. I have learnt the hard way the importance of taking what you can and finding even that smallest of light to pull you through and make sense of it all.
As I said at the beginning, this year was the most formative of my life and whilst it was hard I love who I am and where I am so much more than I did before.
Have to clear the shit to shine. I just made that up. That's the mantra.