“Overwhelming” would be a good word to describe my first few weeks at university. There was the pressure of getting used to the London weather, of making friends, of knowing where to be at what time for every lecture and class. The sense of freedom I felt when I first arrived was paired with the realisation that I had to manage everything by myself. It took me a while to adjust to the style of learning at LSE. Although the International Baccalaureate curriculum was all about critical thinking, it had rough guidelines we could follow.
A new way of learning
The experience I had during the first few weeks of studying law in Britain was very different; we were given reading lists with dozens of articles, cases, and textbook excerpts. It would be impossible for us to read through all of them, and we weren’t expected to do so. There was no defined syllabus, or set textbook, and lectures and classes were only intended to provide an overview. Studying became not only a case of reading and learning material, but also choosing what to read or learn. What cases should I read? How many? Which cases should I skim through? What textbook should I use? I experienced an unparalleled degree of academic freedom, which was both liberating and unsettling.
Starting from scratch with friends
Perhaps the biggest change has been in terms of my social life. There was never any need for me to put an effort into making friends in secondary school. I was always able to have a few close friends. The process of making friends happened naturally, out of seeing them in classes or in societies. At LSE, things were different: it was hard to make close friends in lectures or classes – you only saw the people you sat next to once or, at most, twice a week.
Here’s my advice
My most important piece of advice to future university students would be to simply “go with the flow”. I spent my first few weeks panicking over changes to my life – but in hindsight, there was no point in fretting over the workload, or worrying over how I would make friends. The process of getting used to a new environment can’t be forced or sped up – it is something that simply occurs over a period of time: so stay calm and carry on.