In the midst of Week 3 of the semester turning into Week 4 already, it might be difficult to figure out where one ought to start planning out for the semester. Here are a few tried-and-true tips to survive this semester, regardless of whether it is your first or your last or anything in between!
1. Look over your classes for the semester
Regardless of whether this is your first semester or not, some things are essential to the daily life of a student. We are all human, and small details often slip past us. A few tips include:
Know your venue. Before classes, make sure you have an idea of which building and room your classes are in, lest you fall into an issue like me, with two consecutive classes in T02 and N24 respectively.
Keep a copy of your routine on your phone. Always remember to keep a copy of your schedule, classes sometimes cancelled or shuffled around.
Download the syllabus and lecture notes. Thanks to the power of e-learning, we now have all our course information and lecture notes available online. Make sure to download the syllabus and look over it.
Also always remember to never bite off more than you can chew. A reasonable course load could be the difference between a happy, healthy you and being stressed out.
2. GET A PLANNER
You only need one planner to be honest, (side eye towards notebook hoarders like myself). Your planner contains everything for the semester from schedules to to do lists and even my tips *winks*. When you look back one day, that planner will be how you remember the semester. A few important things should always be at hand in par with your planner, a pen, a pencil, a GOOD eraser and white out. Pens in other colours don’t hurt either. A good size for a planner is A4 or BY, but if you like carrying a lighter bag, A5 sized planners are a good fit!
I’m planning to write a piece on this and note taking soon, so stay tuned!
3. Take notes
Jot down the essentials in lectures it is vital to remembering things. Always make sure to review your notes later on as well, so that you don’t have to cram last minute.
An important tip here is to use the Cornell note taking technique, which helps you summarise the lecture into key points that you can easily remember. Stay tuned for my note taking post, where I will elaborate upon healthy ways to study over the course of the semester!
You can check out this technique used by one of Top Students here
3 semester tips so far… Stay with me!
4. Get involved and discover yourself
Toastmasters: UTM has given us the privilege of joining Toastmasters, with 2 different clubs. The UTM Aces Toastmasters as well as the UTM Toastmasters club. It is a wonderful place to network, learn pointers about public speaking and interact with students from so many different countries and cultures.
AIESEC: If you have ever felt like you wish to try and make a difference in the world and your surroundings, AIESEC could be a good fit for you, with events like charity and volunteer work all over Malaysia as well as abroad.
Hobbies: University is a time where we are far from those who raised us, those whom we grew up with and those who influenced our upbringing. This is a time to discover yourself; take up an instrument or painting or even a new sport. You are never too old to start something new and there is always a first time for everything. Look around and explore, there are many activities you can pursue both on and off campus, like kayaking at the UTM lake or piano lessons at Paradigm Mall!
Exchange programs: Travelling is an innate urge born to those of us who wander, and it is a way to discover more than just one page in the book that is this earth. Exchange programs are a great way to pursue your academics as well as explore new cultures and places.
FYI you guys should checkout the instagram page of UTMcreative that features the creative minds of UTM
5. Take care of your mental and physical health
University life can get stressful. Homesickness, academic pressure, the competition: it all can begin to take a toll sometimes. Always remember to rest and take care of yourself, because when your best efforts involve the sacrifice of your health, they are no longer your best effort.
Always remember that you are not alone and there are people around you to help you. As Albus Dumbledore stated oh so long ago, “Help at Hogwarts will always be given to those who ask for it.” If you feel like you’re in a bad place and feel like self care is too much to start with, it’s okay. Take small steps at a time. Drink a glass of water. Take a walk by the lake.
You’ll get there.
6. Redecorate your room
As far as semester tips go, your room is your humble abode for at least a semester or a year, regardless of whether you live on or off campus. Take the time to put your own touch upon your surroundings, because that room will be the last thing you see before you sleep and the first thing you see when you wake up. Decorate away and let your creative wings fly. Fairy lights, posters, LED light strips – anything goes!
7. Keeping your finances in order
The broke student life is not just a way of life, but a rite of passage in university, where a lot of us have to learn how to manage our finances for the first time. Many of us, me included, have been guilty of purchasing something we really should not have purchased. An important part of this time is to ensure your finances are in order, with strict budgets and healthy spending habits. Always track your budget, and do not feel guilty for treating yourself once in a while. You’ve got this!
With that, here are a few essential tips that we all should know as we make our way through university. Remember that you are human and humans make mistakes. Life is a roller coaster, one minute you could be basking in the sun, and then shattered against the rocks during the next.
You will make it through.
Life will continue to throw us storms, but in the face of it all, remember to look that storm in the eye with your head held high. Tell that storm
‘Do your worst, for I will do mine.’
That brings us to the end of our tips for your upcoming semester.
All the best for your upcoming semester, everyone!