By Paige de Guzman
When I was still studying in college, I thought I had my life all planned out. I thought I knew what I wanted. When I graduated and went out to the real world, my life’s certainties blew up in my face. All of a sudden, my best laid plans were not what I wanted anymore.
As an undergraduate, I felt like I was a soldier being propped up for battle. I had the best teachers, the best books, the best facilities, and one of the most expensive tuition fees. When I graduate, I thought my life would sail smoothly just like it did at the university.
Well, I was in for a surprise.
While I managed to ace almost every subject I took, I found out that in the real world, I didn’t know everything. While I mastered theories and concepts, I found out that in the real world, things don’t always work out the way they’re supposed to. A lot of variables come into play in everyday life, something that’s absent in pristine libraries and laboratories.
But still I say: Study. Study hard. Study everything that you could get your hands, but make sure you get some practical learning as well. Join organizations. Be active on projects. Read books. Know the world around you. Meet new people. Make connections.
As an undergraduate, you may think that you know everything. But out in the real world, you’ll realize you know nothing at all. Your education is the foundation, but it’s up to you to fashion it into a bright future.
Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash
By Mari-An Santos
I have always been a diligent student. Studying is something I take very seriously, and so I am accustomed to getting good grades in school. Every day, I remember, I would have homework in at least two of my classes and a quiz the next day. I would stay up until late in the night to turn in a more than satisfactory paper; putting in as much study time as I could for upcoming examinations. This work ethic paid off and I graduated cum laude from university.
It took me by surprise then how classes are conducted so differently in Europe. Since my colleagues in my Masteral classes are working people, we only meet on weekends. Professors are not very strict with attendance. In fact, I was surprised to learn that there were actually more than 20 students enrolled in our block; only ten attended classes regularly.
Here in Romania, teachers prefer free-flowing discussions. They encourage students to give their thoughts and opinions. There are no quizzes or midterm exams, only a final paper and the final examination. The burden of learning rests almost entirely on the students’ shoulders—how bizarre!
Because the classes are not conducted in English, I’ve had to work double time on my language skills. I need to pay attention in class in order understand and follow the discussions. Usually, the professor stops in the middle of the class to summarize for me in English what has already been discussed—and to ask for my input. He does the same at the end of the class. In this case, I am challenged to snap back from a bubble of very little understanding, to understand everything that’s been discussed, and to formulate an opinion. This also means I cannot be distracted during class nor can I say “pass” when asked a question.
What do I do on weekdays? I read the books recommended by my professors so that I can follow the class. But even in this area, I have the freedom to choose what I want to read; the professors aren’t strict about reading lists as well.
In many ways, it is an admirable system. Each student is responsible for his own performance—whether he comes to participate in class, reads appropriate books, and strives hard to write a good paper and perform well during the examination. In effect, the student is also able to formulate his own ideas based on what he learns from various sources. If he’s lazy, then he won’t learn anything.
Now, I have become more accustomed to being less pressured and frazzled about school. If I don’t do my readings, then I only have myself to blame for not performing well in class. It is also up to me to digest all these concepts and ideas, and decide what I think and feel about them.
And the papers? Well, we’ll see how I fare come examination week.
Photo by David Travis on Unsplash