Second year of university was a roller-coaster. From being unsure if I wanted to continue with my degree to living with new people for the first time, I have felt it all. Anger, confusion, frustration, happiness, love and hate.
I know I am capable of being at university. I just don’t think I am fully capable to be here to get a degree in a language, which is exactly what I am struggling with. When I applied to do Chinese at university, I got a lot of strange looks. Of course, I know why. You would usually go to university to study medicine, or education or even Maths, not Chinese. However, I at some point I thought I had a knack for languages, which I now understand was because I was thrown into England with no choice other than to learn it.
My choices of degree came through a lot of battling of what I wanted to do with myself. From the age of 3-15, I was completely submerged into wanting to become a doctor. Initially, it was a vet. My family however, talked me out of this as humans need a lot more help than animals do, and growing up in the world we currently live in, I totally agreed. At 15, I grew a strange fear towards needles. I have never had a bad experience with needles that make me the way that I am, but for some reason I simply cannot stand them. Obviously, at this point I was confused. I was picking whether to go to sixth form or college, and yet I had absolutely no idea what on earth I wanted to do.
So for sixth form, I picked Biology, Maths, Chemistry and geography. Now, I’m not very clever. And so, unluckily I didn’t do well enough in science and geography to do the three options listed above. I had to have a very quick and stressful meeting when I got my GCSE results back to decide what I could do in sixth form. Instead, I chose to do English Language (Something I excelled at during GCSE’s), Creative writing, History and Maths.
I absolutely loved sixth form. I was extremely close with my teachers, our whole year was good friends (there were only 30 of us) and I lived a simple life of going to school and working in the same school. When it came to year 13, I was even more lost than in year 11. In year 11 I was more carefree, if anything went wrong I could always go to college and magic something up for myself, and I still had another two years to decide what I wanted to do.
Initially, I chose to do English literature and History at university. I wrote a personal statement and all, and then decided to change to a language. I thought that I learnt English pretty quick, so I would be fine doing something else. Oh, how wrong and naive I was. At first, I tried to learn a bit of Arabic to see if I could handle it at uni. The answer was a sure no. And so, because I couldn’t do a European language at any university (as you had to have took them during GCSE or A-Level), I was narrowed down to either Arabic or Chinese. Russian was ruled out because it was my native language, even though I have met so many people that do their native language at university. I wish I got that free degree.
So, I ended up doing Chinese and English Literature. For a week. English literature quickly proved to me that I did not love reading THAT much, and also it was far too expensive (£100 for a bundle of books to last me 2 months? Sorry?) and so, I changed to Global Studies, and I can confirm, I am a lot happier!
In the last two years, I have increasingly struggled with the Chinese side of my degree. I understand that missing lectures doesn’t help whatsoever, and even though I can afford to miss them in my Global Studies half, I cannot afford to do so in my Chinese one. At the start of the year, I will be honest and say that I missed a lot of lectures. When I first came back to university, I was extremely unhappy and stressed. I had taken up German language as part of my Global Studies module, and I was not ready to be learning a new language on top of the one that I barely already knew. This led me to doubt myself- could I realistically learn two languages at once? Global Studies wasn’t a problem, it is a subject I totally enjoy, and so doing assignments for it felt like a break from my degree. My teachers are supportive and helpful, and the content was interesting to me. I get on well in class, and I don’t mind doing the essays.
The stress was coming from Chinese. I finished first year with a 2.1, and I remember my friends all telling me I would be fine this year. Fine, I was not. By the end of first year, I miraculously scraped a third in my writing exam, and by the first exam of second year, I was failing. It was horrible. I felt like I had no control as to what was happening in my life. I was constantly refusing to go to lectures because I was so adamant, I was going to be leaving university before Christmas. As soon as I missed a lecture, I would feel sorry for myself because I knew that realistically I should have gone and had nothing better to do other than to go to my lectures, even if I didn’t listen. It was just something to do.
After Christmas and that terrible excuse of a grade from my exam paper, I fell into an awful habit of telling myself all I had to do was to make it to February, when the second semester started, then, I would quit. However, second semester passed, and surprisingly, so did my want to leave university. I was still unhappy, of course, but I had to find the reason why instead of taking it out on a degree I was already paying for. I started to switch my thinking: I have already gone through almost 2/3 of my degree, all for nothing? Why stop now? I may as well try my best and if nothing comes of it, that’s okay, I can tell myself I’ve did all I can and move on.
And so, both willingly and unwillingly, I pushed on. I revised harder and started staying back an hour after lessons to ask for help and make sure I was doing things correctly instead of pretending it never happened. I aimed to at least pass my exams, whatever grade, if I passed, I would continue and push through third year as best I could, and if I fail, I resit in summer and then continue. Of course, if I fail that, I don’t return. I am not resitting second year. From resitting in the past, the only thing I have learnt is, I cannot do better than I already did.
During my A-levels, the only other option I could do was maths. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do at university, and I thought maths wouldn’t be a bad option to go anywhere. I failed my first year of as-level maths, and decided I would retake in second year, as it would be a lot easier. No chance. I understood everything in lectures, did almost every past paper under the sun and was getting B’s and C’s, great! However, when it came to the exam, I completely flunked it, and in turn my A-Level grades suffered as I spent so much time trying to prove to myself that I could do it. Therefore, I don’t want to re-take second year, I do not want a re-disappointment.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say for my first thing I learnt in second year- don’t give up until you give yourself an ultimatum and try your best. I know its not that easy from first-hand experience. I cried every day up until after Christmas because I was so unhappy about being at university. Yet, instead of talking about it maturely with someone, I let it bottle up and take me to a breakdown instead, which was a lot worse. Trust in yourself, and know that whatever decision you make right now is the right decision for this time, and wherever it takes you is where you’re meant to be.