Lessons From a Third-Year Medical Sciences Student
Written By: Victoria Lun, 3rd Year Medical Sciences
It’s hard to believe that I’m almost ¾ of the way through my undergraduate experience here at Western. Coming into university, I wasn’t sure what to expect. All my close friends from elementary and high school were all attending different schools – whether they were within Canada or internationally. But, after completing almost 3 years in university (in-person and remotely), I have learned a few lessons along the way that I think are very valuable to any student.
Friendships are Forever
Despite starting university in a different city, away from all the familiarity in my life, I can honestly say that the friends I made here are some of my closest friends to this day. They are what make my university experience enjoyable and memorable. It’s easy to become so consumed over school with the constant deadlines for midterms, assignments, and essays, but it’s also extremely important to meet new people and find a good group of friends. These are the people you will be spending most of your time with in the next 4 or 5 years of your life and will likely become your main support system. Even if you are introverted like me, I suggest you initiate a conversation with that person sitting next to you in class, or your next-door neighbour because they can end up being friendships you cherish for life. Although it is important to stay focused on school, it is also important to take some time for yourself to socialize and enjoy your university experience.
Master Time Management
As previously mentioned, university is filled with deadlines. Whether it is 2 midterms and 2 assignments due on the same day, or if everything is spread out across the same week, time management is a crucial skill to master. Once you fall behind, it becomes harder and harder to catch up – especially during online school when you have to make your own schedule. On top of this, you may have extracurriculars to balance as well as responsibilities at home. What I find really helps me stay focused is using an app that limits your screen time on other apps but also keeps track of how much time you have spent on a task. The app I use is called “Flora” and it lets you plant for a set duration of your choosing. For example, I can plant blueberries and set a timer for 30 minutes to stay focused on my task. Another thing I use to help with time management is my Outlook calendar. You can set reminders, colour code your courses and tasks to stay on top of everything, which, let’s be honest, can get pretty hectic.
There is No Single Way to Approach University
Lastly, a big lesson that I learned during my time at Western is that there is no single way to approach university. Advice from upper-year students in your program on courses or university, in general, can be helpful, but it does not mean that you have to follow what they say exactly. You can try new things, step out of your comfort zone, and learn from your experiences. For example, one person can study the night before and ace the exam whereas you might need the whole week – and that’s okay. Do what works for you and don’t preoccupy your time by comparing yourself to others. Finding a rhythm on how to tackle university is part of the experience and independence. And I promise, it’s not as scary as it seems!
There are countless other lessons I have learned along the way but these are the 3 biggest ones. I am not saying my experience has been perfect, but it’s what you make out of it, and I recommend trying to make the best out of it!