Halfway through University - What I learned
So, today’s post is a little bit of an adventure, being written at 11960 m/39234 miles of altitude, flying above an ocean. Today’s post is also going to be different from another perspective, our topic. So far, the blog has featured a multitude of topics, but we have not talked about University itself that much.
As I am writing these lines for you, I am a few hours past when my final grades for the semester were released. I am officially halfway through college. And let me tell you now, it’s been a one-of-a-kind journey.
From being international to moving halfway across the world to studying in English, engineering itself, there have been about a million challenges. It has also been the happiest time of my life, from studying my passion, building, and creating, to make amazing friends. And here are the main lessons, I learned on this crazy journey so far.
It has been a world of opportunities
When we talk about going off to College or University, we all know there will be a lot of opportunities, but especially as an international student, it has been a crazy joy and overwhelming sea of such. I find it hard to even list the variety of things one can begin participating in when starting their education towards a degree. From clubs to design teams, to societies, organizations, research, co-ops, internships, events. THERE IS SO MUCH GOING ON.
I often get messages from those who follow my journey either on the blog, or my social media, how they should choose to do things to further their education, resume, and experience in University. And in my experience, the only real answer has been a combination of trying it all & choosing what you enjoy and fit in.
The thing about facing such a sea monster is that there are so many opportunities, it is almost impossible to choose. However, that is why the emphasis is on TRYING as much as you wish. You can join a gazillion clubs, orgs, societies, and even design teams. Attend their events, listen to their missions, Give them a shot.
With such a list comes the hardship of finding the ones where you fit in, but it also comes with the wonder of looking, Keep looking, for the ones where you feel at home. Go to events and stop going if you are not enjoying them. Do not join them because it sounds good on your resume. It will add words to your resume but take away from your opportunity of changing you and your future. Let yourself explore and look especially for ways you can positively grow yourself.
Join design teams where you are challenged, but enjoy the company, and even the challenges. Do not just join the most popular ones. And the same goes for everything else. And do not be scared to switch. I personally switched design teams between my first and second year of college, and it was one of the best experiences ever.
Also, do not just aim for leadership positions. I learned this the hard way, but listen to me, when I say that you do not need a position in every club, and don’t need to be a leader in your design team either. You should do some of these things just to enjoy them. Of course, it's amazing for both you and your CV if you end up with some leadership positions, but having just this goal in mind when joining will take away from the experiences you could have with them. You can be a part of clubs where you aren’t a leader. Learn to peace yourself and your experiences.
It has been a world of competition
Internships, scholarships, research, and so on. It has truly been a world of hungry animals fighting over the last piece of meat quite often. When you are going to school, it can be hard to distance yourself from the world of competition. Let it be grades, to opportunities gained. Everyone around you is acting like life and especially University is a race. Please, remember that it is EVERYTHING BUT THAT.
When you are a college student, you are always around fellow classmates and other students. You pretty much only see people between the ages of 18-24, which is not only partially funny, but it also creates a pretty stressful environment. We are all young, and hungry for a great future. It sometimes feels like an impossible task to not feel like your entire value is dependent on your grades, and jobs, positions.
And let me say this again, this is utter bull****!
You must learn to find ways, to kick yourself out of this mindset. Especially with online school, this has been really challenging. But make sure that when you are done with school for the day, you are done. Try to literally jump your mind out of all of that. Learn to stop thinking of nothing but assignments, exams, and so on. You need to do this, or you will quite frankly, go insane.
And for the love of this life, please learn to stop yourself, when you are comparing yourself or others. Everyone has different challenges, timelines, and especially, a different pace. You don’t need to be doing everything somebody else is doing. You do not need to be better than others, you should just learn to aim to be better than who you were yesterday.
I know, all of this is much better said than done. However, I promise, even knowing this, and aiming to keep this in mind can change you are your life for the better. This is a way to find a happier place for your mind.
It has been a world of challenges
Oh, dear world, I knew it was going to be challenging to complete a degree, especially in a STEM field, but boy was I not prepared to see and experience so many meltdowns. College is a challenge in every way possible. Mentally, emotionally, and sometimes even physically (like getting to class in 2 minutes that is on the other side of campus).
When I mentioned the race aspect, I believe this is almost one of them as well. Moving away from home, living alone, adulting in a billion new ways, managing classes, life, eating, physical and mental health. It is a lot. And by lot, I mainly mean too much too quickly.
Your life changes in every aspect of it, in about 2 seconds. Causing you to be kind of standing there and just feeling like you are playing catch up to your own life. I can’t say that there is a way around it, and I also believe this to be a crucial part of growing up, and university itself. You are meant to be challenged.
Just know to expect this, and hopefully, that will you get through all of it.
It has been a world of new worlds
I could keep listing ways that I found a new world within University, and my experience with engineering, and so on. But the most important thing I learned, is that you will be faced with a million if not a billion new worlds. And even more worlds within worlds.
This is true of classes, opportunities, and of course, people. Let yourself wander into these unknown territories, and learn to embrace finding it new, or maybe even confusing. When I say confusing, I mean confusing.
As humans, especially at a place like University, we are seeking the comfortable. That which we are already familiar with. Something easier to chew, just for once. We like understanding people, and situations. However, if you are fortunate enough to be in such a mix of worlds, it is your job to grab yourself and place it right outside your comfort zone.
You need to be uncomfortable, to truly grow. Surround yourself with people different from you. I mean different cultures, financial backgrounds, majors, and just in general different people. Making friends, and getting to know others, is one of the best ways to truly grow in this. So, take advantage of that.
This of course, also applies to opportunities. Take that position that sounds terrifying. Do that assignment early that you feel you can’t do. Explore every new world around you. And sure, not all of it will be for you, but the more comfortable you step into the new worlds, the better experiences and frankly, the life you will have. Let yourself experience things that they might not like because that is the best way to grow.
There you have it. Some of the things I have learned by completing half of my bachelor’s degree as an aerospace engineer. Let me be honest with you, it feels quite good to say that, and I truly can not wait to see how I will be challenged next. And of course, to write about it for you!