Two Level One undergraduates reflect on their first year
Edited by Samantha Ann Rose Brinded
Are there any reflections you would like to make on your first year as whole?
Hannah: The first year of university is a learning curve, there are eight different modules which range from ancient to modern history and everything in between, so there is something for everyone. As most people will come to university with a basic knowledge of some periods, its refreshing to find different eras present in the modules, it opens up your eyes to the vastness of the subject in general.
Jack: This first year has been incredibly busy, more so than I expected when I first came to Lincoln. The quality of teaching is really good, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the modules which were on offer. It has been incredibly fun to study areas of history I hadn’t had the chance to look at previously, such as the fall and decline of the Roman Empire. I feel topics in history which I haven’t covered before are the most interesting and have made my first year here more intriguing than I expected.
What have you enjoyed most?
Hannah: Engaging with lecturers and classmates. It’s completely different to other methods of teaching. Lecturers welcome ideas and different perspectives on historical evidence, be it a source from ancient Rome or a doctor’s report on a Suffragette in prison, you are encouraged to give and explain your thoughts. It’s a much more engaging way of learning, unlike previous studies which rely on textbooks. Instead, each week we are given readings and source material and even told to find our own which gives an independent feel to the study, an aspect that I was looking forward to the most.
Jack: The most enjoyable part of my first year at university has been the independence involved. In previous forms of education everything is usually guided for you but at university you need to go out and find the sources, information or even questions yourself. While that is quite challenging, it is also immensely rewarding when completed, knowing that you did it and no one else.
What aspects have you most struggled with?
Hannah: The deadlines: those come around quicker than you would think. You are set an assessment one week and in the blink of an eye, it will be the week you have to hand it in. However, with time management this aspect would easily be avoided and yet I found myself and several of my friends all failing at this, despite best intentions. Also referencing: at first it was difficult to get the hang of but, with practice, it becomes second nature.
Jack: Interpreting questions from my assignments was a challenge. Having said that, the teaching staff on hand are always incredibly helpful and willing to help if you have a problem. Also referencing was sometimes a struggle, for different sources require a different reference. To solve this problem, the best solution is just to keep trying and use the history style guide which was made for this purpose.
Is there anything you wish you’d known at the start of the year?
Hannah: No, not really, there is a wealth of information available over Blackboard and university makes the transition from A-level to university graded levels as easy as possible.
Jack: Perhaps the biggest thing I wish I had been aware of was the variation in teaching styles. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in fact, I would say it is the opposite. However, when I moved to university I had a pre-conceived idea of how university style teaching would be. Knowing this would have helped me better adapt to the different styles sooner.
Is there any advice you would give new first years?
Hannah: Have fun! But also take this chance for education seriously. Go out with your friends and enjoy the rich student culture that Lincoln has to offer but remember, you will have 9 am lectures and you are expected to attend. The university does not treat you like children: the time to take responsibility for getting to class, taking notes and getting your assessments done is now. Go to the library and use the resources there, go to see your lecturers if you have questions and don’t be afraid to ask for help! The university has a fantastic wellbeing centre where you can talk to professionals and at the beginning of the year you are introduced to your personal tutor. They are there as your point of call for anything academic that can’t be answered by reading the student handbooks.
Jack: Studying at university is an exciting and daunting experience but it’s good to remember that you are not alone in feeling this. For your first year especially, it is good to learn how to use the university resources to their greatest extent, as this will prove useful when researching and writing essays. Also, references, they aren’t fun, but you must do them, so you might as well learn to do it right. Overall, the first year of university was highly enjoyable and this was because of the people who were around me.