8 Lessons I Learned In University (by Paul)

Hello readers! Welcome to the new segment I like to call, “The Shaz Show”. Okay I just made that up. But it is my honor, to introduce to you, my first guest blogger! Paul from The Captain’s Speech is my best blogger friend. He has given me valuable advice through my toughest times at college. I feel like we had different experiences at college, but at the end of the day- we had similar ideas. As I struggle to accept the end of my undergrad journey and mope, I thought it would be nice to get Paul’s opinion on a few of the things he learned at college (and I’ll definitely make my own list soon). Enjoy!

University is all about making mistakes. Some of them are bigger than others. Some of them are embarrassing. Some of them are kept alive by friends, who make sure you never forget. But with all mistakes, there are lessons to be learned. Here are eight lessons I learned while in university.

1. You can’t rely on people to do their part properly when doing a group project.

There were about five days before Christmas break and I had never been so stressed in my life. Exams were going on and final projects were being completed. One of my projects was in a group that included three other people.

As always, I took it upon myself to put everyone’s part together. I never trusted anyone else’s editing or formatting abilities.

Well, we were coming down to the wire and as I received everyone’s part, I realized I was in trouble. One guy sent me his part and right away I knew it wasn’t his own words. Sure enough, I typed a sentence into Google and it showed up on Wikipedia. Most of his part showed up on Wikipedia. Instead of sending it back to him, I did his part for him.

Great.

Another guy sent me his part and it was all in broken English. English was his second language so I was understanding of the situation. But as I was editing it, I realized that there wasn’t nearly enough “good” content. I had to fill in the gaps.

Great.

By this point, I felt like throwing my desk out the window. I was fed up. I didn’t have time to do my part and everyone else’s part, and study for exams.

Thankfully, the fourth member of my group came over and we both worked on it together. But man, I had never been so frustrated to be in a group.

2. Make sure you have a towel.

My parents came up to visit one weekend (and by that I mean they stayed for an hour and went home) and decided to take some of my laundry home (I lived in residence). I think I was going home the following weekend, anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal.

Well, they took my towels home. All of them. And when I say towels, I mean the towels you use after getting out of a shower.

The only towel I had left was a small Gatorade towel that you can wrap an infant in. I’m not an infant. I’m six feet tall.

So, all week, I had to use this small towel to dry myself. It wasn’t bad, it was just terribly inconvenient. I never realized how important towels were.

3. Don’t assume the professor can’t hear you talking in the back row.

Here’s the embarrassing one of the list. I took a Classics course called, Ancient Sport, with three friends I lived with in residence. We were all in different programs but coordinated our schedules so we could have this class together as an elective.

Well, one day we learned about the Hippodrome. If you don’t know, that was an Ancient Greek stadium where they held horse races and chariot races.

The seating in this lecture hall was on an incline, like a movie theatre, but steeper.

Being the giggly bunch that we were (because we cracked jokes about everything) we always sat in the second last row, so we could whisper to each other and not get caught acting like fools.

When the professor taught us about the Hippodrome, he asked the class, “How long do you think a Hippodrome is?” Immediately, I blurted out “8 laps.”

Everyone turned around and started to laugh, even the professor chuckled. I HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON. I wanted to crawl under the desk. First of all, I didn’t think anyone had heard me. I had said it under my breath, didn’t I? DIDN’T I? I guess I didn’t and the sound carried.

Second, he wasn’t asking for the length of the race. He was asking for the actual length of the track, as in how many metres or feet it would be.

I’m an idiot. But at least it was funny! I think.

4. Avoid the wobbly desk during exams.

You learn a lot in first year, especially during final exam season. Our final exams were held in both of our gyms, with a million and one desks making about three thousand rows. My math is accurate.

It took me about five exams, and some advice from an upper-year student, to realize that desk selection was extremely important.

You never want a wobbly desk or you’re going to be rocking back and forth like the Titanic the whole time, watching your grades sink. Nice analogy, eh?

I had the wobbly desk multiple times, until I got smart. Before claiming a desk and sitting at it, I would see if the desk wobbled. Then I would check the chair. Then I checked to see if it was a spot in the gym where the sun would hit. All very important details.

I once got stuck at a desk with the sun on my face the whole time. Didn’t help that I had a headache that day. And don’t get me started about the exam I was writing.

5. You can’t stay friends with everyone.

Most of the people I was friends with in residence in first year, I barely talked to in second year. It’s just the way it was. I went back to residence and they moved off-campus. I found a new friend group and realized I didn’t really fit with most of the first-year bunch. It was for the best.

6. All good things come to an end.

When you’re in university, you live in the moment without even trying. Each day is a new adventure. And when it’s all over, it feels like a part of you is shipped to Mars. I wasn’t ready for how I would feel once second-year ended (the best year of my university experience).

I also wasn’t ready for the last day of my final year. I was like a Doctor’s office that day, with appointments to say goodbye to friends every hour until 2am. It was a sad day. Walking out of my final exam felt surreal. I didn’t feel like I was in my own body as I walked across campus.

Those were some hard days and it made me wish I had appreciated the entire university experience a little bit more from the start.

7. You have to stand on your own sometimes.

I knew one other person at my university when I first arrived as a clean-shaven kid straight out of Grade 12. I wasn’t afraid of this situation. I also wasn’t afraid of moving away from home and not having my parents there to do things for me.

I loved being on my own. The cafeteria ladies quickly became my Moms-away-from-Mom and I made friends that became my family.

You don’t have your parents there to remind you to study, or start an assignment, or tell you that you can’t hang out with friends when you have work to do. You learn to make the right decision, rather than the fun one. And sometimes, you’ll be the only one making that decision.

8. You’ll have to do things you don’t want to do. Mainly, assignments.

There was an essay I had to write for my Ancient Sport class. I had to choose between two topics. I didn’t like either one, so I decided to go with the one that had more information in the library. That didn’t make my decision easier.

As always, I left it until the final day to start. I was sitting in the library with my friend, who was also in the class, and I was borderline yelling my frustrations with the class, essay, and the “stupid books”, at her. She had never seen me so angry. Then we laughed about it.

Eventually, I calmed down and got the essay done and got a good mark on it. That incident in the library was four years ago, but I’m sure if I mention it to my friend, she’ll remember it clearly.

What a day.

That’s my list. I loved university. I think it’s unfair that I spent 10 years in elementary school and only 4 in university. Oh well.

What were some lessons you learned in school? Comment below!

***Would you like to be the next guest on “The Shaz Show”? Write me! For more of Paul’s posts, check out his awesome blog: The Captain’s Speech