Hello lovely readers! As promised, I’m here with a Q&A about everything to do with my university life. I have quite a number of questions to answer so this will be a very short intro. If you want to join in the fun and ask me some questions next time I do something similar, follow me on Instagram, @wonxni_. Let’s get into it.
What did you study + why?
I studied Civil Engineering. I only settled for this in Grade 12. In Grade 10, I went to Kitwe with my mom and visited a family friend who designed his own beautiful house. He is an architect. I found the idea of living in something you created pretty cool. Considering I lacked the creative skills for architecture, I decided to go for Civil Engineering. That way, I still get to see and maybe live in structures I design and create.
At what age did you start uni?
I started uni when I was 18. I finished high school at 16, then did A-levels for a year and a half before going to uni.
Were you excited about starting university?
I was! It was going to be a completely new experience; meeting new people, visiting new places, making new friends etc. I was really looking forward to the change. Also, by the time I was starting uni, I desperately wanted a change of environment and really wanted to start over. Whatever that meant at 18. Uni gave me a chance to do that and I took it with both hands.
Did you get along with your roommates?
I’d say we got along 95% of the time. I’ve had so many flatmates because I lived in 3 different flats during my time in uni. I know that’s a lot but I had to until I eventually found people I really got along with. Listen, so much goes into choosing flatmates in uni. It’s trial and error really. I never really argued with my flatmates but of course, we had a number of times where we disagreed with each other or didn’t respect each other’s boundaries etc. My biggest issue in the beginning, however, was the house cleaning schedule. Oh that was a headache in the beginning but we eventually figured it out. One thing my roommate and I had trouble with was that I enjoyed silence in the morning and she did not. She liked to play music out loud early in the morning. The moment she saw my eyes open, she would hit that play button. I hated it.
Living with new people generally isn’t easy. Now in a situation where people are from different backgrounds, different countries, different upbringings, you know it’s something wild! I’ll talk about this with my friends (former flatmates) one day. Not on this blog though. *wink wink*
What was your uni struggle meal and baller meal?
My uni struggle meal? Noodles and eggs or bread with peanut butter. My uni baller meal? Definitely anything takeout. I’d buy food when I’m balling. Lol.
How did you keep fit in uni?
I tried going to the gym but my class schedule just wasn’t allowing it. In my first 2 years, I didn’t really do anything to keep fit. The last 2 years however, I started following Chloe Ting’s workouts with one of my friends RELIGIOUSLY. When I tell you I was snatched, I was. Eventually, we also started working out with Mr London. Depending on how our classes were scheduled, we would workout in the morning or in the evening.
Some days were definitely harder than others. Especially days with morning workouts. I aspire to reach that level of consistency with my workouts again.
What was your favourite and least favourite chore to do in uni?
I didn’t have so many chores but I’d say laundry. I didn’t do my laundry every week. I’d do it every 2 weeks. I hated the walk to and fro the laundromat because I’d walk that distance so many times on laundry day. Additionally, I’d do my laundry around 1 am sometimes because that’s when I’d be guaranteed some free machines. Hated it.
What are your top 5 study tips?
I have a whole blog post dedicated to study tips. Five tips from there:
- Know what study method works for you.
- Attend your lectures.
- Have a study time table.
- Ask questions.
- Avoid leaving things to the last minute.
Read the post for more tips and more information!
Did you often miss class?
No definitely not often. I knew what my minimum attendance needed to be for my visa to be renewed so I calculated how many days that translated to and based on that, I’d skip class. I was quite particular about when to miss class or how many classes I missed.
Did you enjoy group work?
For the most part, no. I’ve definitely complained about group work in a couple of posts. I didn’t always enjoy group work because sometimes I’d end up in groups with people who simply didn’t care to do their job and that always stressed me out because I for one cared about my grades. However, sometimes, I found myself in groups where everyone cared and those were interesting. But generally, my answer is no.
Did you have a lecturer who made you want to lecture?
Yes! Two lecturers actually. My Statics and Dynamics lecturer and my Structural Analysis lecturer. Those men really knew their stuff and just explained things well. I’m definitely considering lecturing at some point in my life.
What was your favourite and least favourite course?
Favourite Course: All my structural courses.
Least Favourite Course: Comparative Religion. The course itself was good and important especially for a country like Malaysia. I simply didn’t have the best lecturer. For a lecturer of such a course, she was not open minded and too judgmental. She couldn’t give her best if she didn’t bother to really learn about other religions.
How did you handle uni peer pressure?
First things first, I knew myself and was confident in myself and my decisions. Peer pressure at that stage is real but I think being self-aware helped me handle it.
How did you balance uni and the extra fun things?
Schedules baby. I worked with schedules the entire 4 years I studied. Additionally, I knew what my priorities were at any given time. “All work and no play makes John a dull boy.” I usually had classes on weekends during the semester so I didn’t have so much time for fun things. I made the most of semester breaks. That’s when I got to go out, visit different cities and just enjoy life.
Did you find love in uni?
Nope! Unfortunately I never had my college romance where I bump into a cute guy in the hallways and my books fall so we both kneel to pick them up and our hands “accidentally” touch then we both feel the electricity between us and look each other in the eyes, chuckle, get up and then introduce ourselves. None of that happened. I’m sorry my husband and I will not be college sweethearts.
Most of the people I met in university were just not my type. I went out with some people a couple of times but nothing ever interesting. That and the fact that some guys found me intimidating. I was actually told this and couldn’t believe it. So no, I did not find love in uni. Some of my friends did and that was beautiful to see. So beautiful.
Love, for me, was completely outside uni.
Did you have any friend drama or misunderstandings?
Oh yes. I had more misunderstandings than I would have liked to have. There was just a lot of growing up to be done and certain things could have been avoided. Simply put, yes. It all came down to boundaries. People respecting my boundaries and me respecting theirs. I really experienced the funniest things which I will, one day, talk about with my friends.
Are you still in touch with your uni friends?
Not all of them unfortunately. I actually kinda feel bad about this because the way I’ve lost contact with some people is simply unbelievable. However, the ones I’m still frequently in touch with are the ones I formed the closest bonds with. It’s only normal though. Certain people are only in your life for certain seasons and I am okay with that.
Did you ever apply what you learnt in uni during your internship?
Yes! I had to apply a lot of what I learnt which honestly, is great because I’d feel so bad if all of it was for nothing.
What next after uni?
I tried to answer this question in depth in this post. Short answer, work for a couple of years then find a scholarship for my Masters in Structural Engineering.
Did you enjoy your university experience?
Yes! I did for sure. Academic stress aside, I met some really awesome people. If you’re just starting university, I’d say make sure to get involved with extra-curricular activities. Not everyday books. If you’re into sport, find out what sport activities are available and either join existing or create your own team. Join the different clubs, join the student union and just take part in the silly activities that take place at school. That’s what makes the university experience amazing.
How did you make friends?
I knew one person at my university prior to going there so when I did eventually start uni, he introduced me to his friends who I eventually made my friends. I also became friends with my flatmates by just putting myself out there. I eventually had to stop sitting in my room 24/7 and go out to interact with others.
Making friends from my course was quite difficult because there were not so many girls in my intake and the boys wanted to be so extra about being friends with the new black girl. I eventually found people who enthusiastically reached out to me first and then we kicked it off from there.
What was your go to meal during exams?
I really didn’t have time to cook during exams so I’d usually buy food on the way from school. However, on days when I had time, I’d eat noodles and eggs. I’m a stress eater so I always had snacks with me during exams. I’d usually eat one meal a day + coffee but during exams, I’d eat all 3 meals.
Do you recommend having fun in first year and then being serious in second year?
Just be serious from the word go. You really have nothing to lose.
I know of places where only your final year grades contribute to what kind of degree you graduate with. For others, the thesis determines that. At the university I went to, your grades from your very first semester contribute to your graduating CGPA. So in that case, obviously fully apply yourself from the word go because if you begin with a low GPA, it can be very difficult to raise it. You’ll need to be getting A’s and maybe B’s only.
Also, a lot of basic concepts are taught in the first year which you eventually apply as you go on. A good understanding from the word go is ideal.
How did you manage finances in school?
Budget! Budget! Budget! It’s very easy to lose track of your finances. Having a budget and actually sticking to it goes a long way. Divide your money. Know how much is going towards food, towards nights out, towards school expenses etc. Also, I always paid for the important things first. One of the first things I would buy is food. If I’m going to end up broke, at least let me not end up hungry. I did my best to avoid impulse buying. I usually saved up for things I wanted. Especially shoes. I avoided buying shoes the moment I saw them unless they were budgeted for. Money management is such a great and important skill one would need to apply.
I also had two bank accounts. One local and one foreign. I used my local account for daily transactions, online shopping and all those things. My foreign account is where I kept the money I was saving. That helped me a lot! So have some place to stash your savings. They shouldn’t be so accessible.
Also, after an unfortunate hospital incident, I learnt to always have money stashed away somewhere for emergencies.
Tips about time management?
If you have been following this blog long enough, you know I believe in schedules. I schedule my days. I usually have lists of things I hope to do in a day and what time I need to do said things. That’s really how I managed my time. I had a study time-table with fixed times of study. I tried to stay within schedule most of the time, especially during semesters.
In uni, you have A LOT of free time outside classes so it’s up to you to manage the time well. I’ll admit, I wasn’t always good at it but I did my best.
Funny story: I remember I went out with my friends and the agreement was to be back home by 11pm. I had an assignment to finish the same night and a class at 8am I could not miss. So, I went with my friends and of course, plans started changing. Suddenly people didn’t want to go home anymore and I had no way of getting home on my own. I really threw a tantrum until I was taken back home. I reached after 11 but at least I got to finish my assignment and attend the class, despite being tired. Since then, everyone knew better than to keep me out for longer than agreed, especially if I had other things to take care of.
Did you fail any courses in university? If yes, how did you deal with that?
This is a lengthy answer. I don’t know how I never wrote a blogpost on this.
Yes! I failed Reinforced Concrete Design 2. I somehow survived Fluid Mechanics but failed RC2?! (Civil students will understand). To make it worse, it wasn’t a cute kind of failing, like a C- or a D. It was horrible. I was DEVASTATED. A part of me knew I was failing that course but nothing, absolutely nothing, could have prepared me for the terror I felt when I looked at my results that semester.
I cried. I really cried. Failing wasn’t anything new to me because I failed my A-levels but failing at that level? I didn’t expect it. However, because of past experience, the experience was a lot less depressing. I definitely went through a lot of, “How did I fail this?” moments. To make it worse, my course mates knew that I usually performed relatively well so when people saw me in the RC2 class the following semester, they were shocked and couldn’t keep the shock to themselves. That made things a little harder. Some people were happy. It turned out that Wonani could be defeated after all.
I had to really talk myself out of low moments and convince myself that while I had failed the course, I wasn’t a failure. I also had to really accept the fact that I was repeating the class. That was a big deal.
A few tips for those retaking a class:
- Figure out why you failed the class, what you didn’t understand and what you could do differently now that you have another chance to.
- Don’t skip class on the assumption that because it’s your second time taking the class, you don’t have to study. There is a reason you failed, clearly you didn’t know your stuff so attend all the classes. Treat it like it’s the first time.
- Don’t be hard on yourself. Yes you failed a course or a couple but give yourself grace and allow yourself to change things the right way.
- Learning with your juniors is not as bad as you think it is. Maybe you won’t graduate with your peers and maybe you’ll fall back. It’s your own life and your own race. Maybe those juniors could be of help.
- Don’t be shy to ask questions. Please don’t be shy to ask questions. You need to understand everything. You have to want to do better.
- Never let failure define you. Never.
How did you deal with homesickness?
Believe it or not, I was never homesick. Never. Yes, I missed home but I never reached a point where I was homesick. What I can say about it is while you’ll miss home, allow yourself to find comfort in your new environment. Don’t confine yourself to your bedroom walls. Go out. Do fun thinks, meet knew people and make friends. Allow yourself to learn new ways of doing things. Adapt. Don’t be afraid to fall in love with the place you’re in now.
Did you at any point regret choosing the course you did?
No. I complained about it all the time but I never found myself regretting it. Sometimes I wished I was a graphic design student. Those guys never had exams. Other times I wished I was an education student because their coursework total was much higher than mine. Other times I wished I just never went to university. I never regretted it though. I hope this makes sense.
How did you maintain a relationship with God?
I wrote a post on my relationship with God over a year ago where I write more on this question. Having moved away from home, no one was forcing me to go to church on my own. A relationship with God is something I wanted for myself and not to impress others. Before finding a church, I made it a point to watch sermons online from some preacher’s I liked. I also spent some time each day reading the Bible. That helped a lot.
Eventually, I found a church that I liked and that, literally, felt like home. I had visited another one before this but never felt comfortable so I never went back (LOL). So I found a church and attended services as often as I could. Community is really an important part of your growth as a christian so that was important to me. I got involved where I could and of course, some of my friends shared the same beliefs as me so that was helpful.
At the end of the day, I put in work. It’s so easy to lose it but you have to want it for yourself.
That’s it! Thank you so much for all these questions. I had fun answering them. Feel free to pick any question from the ones I’ve answered and leave your answer in the comments below. What’s your struggle meal? How have you dealt with failure? I’d love to read your comments and interact with you.
Thanks for reading!