Why I preferred second year over first year
I think that for many people the first year of university is meant to be the best. It’s a time to grab every opportunity, and get used to being more independent, and try out different things on campus.
Personally though, I enjoyed second year much more than first year, and I thought I would talk about why, since freshers can sometimes feel like there is a lot of pressure to have everything figured out in first year, or have the impression that if you aren’t loving it 100% you’re doing something wrong. I also loved much of my first year, but I think it’s important not to view it as your single opportunity to enjoy university.
A lot of first year is about adapting to all things new: your course, Warwick, England… The great thing about second year is that I found I was much more used to life in the UK and to university. Yes, I had to get used to living off-campus, but that was a small step compared to getting used to moving from France to the UK in first year. This meant that the start of my second year felt less overwhelming than it had in first year, and I was able to enjoy Welcome Week and Societies’ fairs more, since I didn’t feel as much pressure to try out every single thing possible. I’ve also really liked living off-campus, as it felt easier to simply walk around and explore everything around my house.
I felt more comfortable with my course as well. I had spent first year figuring out how I preferred to work (hand-written notes or typed, doing the reading before or after lectures, knowing how long I needed to spend on coursework…) so that took a lot of worries away. When it comes to studying Law, while last year we all had to take the same modules, this year I was able to study modules that I picked myself. My optional modules were Writing Human Rights and International Law and they allowed me to find out more about some of the aspects of Law that had first inspired me to do a Law degree, which was great!
All of this helped me feel more confident in my second year, so I was able to get involved in more things, and overall I also just felt less nervous asking for help when I needed it. In first year I almost felt like I couldn’t really ask for help when struggling with my course, because I assumed I was the only one having problems with it, but this year I’ve very much realized that Law is hard for everyone, and that the way to make it easier was to go talk to lecturers, course-mates and tutors when I had trouble grasping a concept. Being more willing to ask questions in my second year, whether that be in seminars or during office hours, has really helped me, especially when it came to revisions. This is not to say that second-year was confusion-free! I found the course a lot denser and more complex than in first year, but knowing who to rely on took some stress away.
So, if you’re starting first year in the fall, my advice would be to enjoy it and to get as involved as you wish, but also not to put pressure on yourself, or feel like you’re doing university ‘wrong’ if you’re taking time to adapt, or if you aren’t having the best time of your life every single day. First year can be super fun, but uni is so much more than first year! And ask for help if you’re struggling with anything, it will make your year so much better! 🙂