You may have been told that the hardest thing about university is the content, or moving out and living independently, maybe all the above. However, in my case it’s something far more terrible…
As my physical chemistry professor once said, ‘we do have the energy it takes to get up in the morning, provided by a large dinner, or a relaxing shower to help you drift to sleep. But there is a larger activation energy needed to get ourselves out of bed’, and indeed he was right. Especially when it’s Friday!
After hauling myself out of bed and reaching for the first decent thing in my wardrobe, I get ready and then I am faced with the next struggle of the day…
Yes, I’m a commuter with a 45-minute journey to get to my campus in Waterloo. After taking a route for a while you soon find little hacks – places where you can catch the train so it leaves you straight in front of the exit when you arrive – which saves a precious few steps. I also learnt the hard way that it’s great to get into the habit of checking your route before you leave, in case there are any delays.
I manage to make it to my lecture, and take my seat at the front, because there are not many of us our lectures are held in a classroom so the closer to the front, the better the view. Slides to lectures are always available online, so you can print them out and annotate them, but I prefer to make my own notes. This way I can organise the information given to me by my lecturer and highlight the parts that I feel are most important. I’d recommend trying different ways to take notes and see which is best for you, then stick to it.
After lectures, there’s a two-hour lunch break so I use half of it to have a go at some workshop questions, usually in one of the computer suites. The other half I spend having lunch (my favourite part of the day). In Waterloo, there are three microwaves provided which means you can bring in food from home and heat it up if you’re trying to save money; there are also lots of vending machines dotted around the building.
Finally, I attend my workshops which are very useful, usually taught by PhD students who can break down the large amount of content you get in lectures into bite-size chunks that are useful when answering questions. I get to find out what kind of questions I may be asked in the exam and I’ll work with my friends to answer the questions.
Ultimately, Fridays are like a sigh of relief, however, while I’m walking home, I feel a sense of accomplishment.
‘Yay! I got through the week, and I did a pretty good job at it too!’