PERSONAL: 15 THINGS UNI TAUGHT ME14:58:00
It´s been a whooping six weeks since I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations, and this does not only give me a piece of paper certifying the abundance of information I have acquired, that will never be useful for any real life job ever (including realism, anarchy in the international system and the fact that the only historical events that ever mattered where the fall of the Berlin Wall and 9/11), it also leaves me with friendships, that will hopefully last a life time, a much better self confidence and some other actually useful skills and experiences, that were never taught in a class room. And since some of you have yet to embark on your journey into academia, or have decided to ditch that journey all together, which I honestly can fully understand I decided, to share some of the main things uni has taught me.
1. People will like you for who you are. This may seem a crazy thought in high school, where you literally are forced to hang out with a tightly set number of people every day for about six years and it is very much about wearing the right clothes and hanging out with the right crowd, but outside of the hell hole that is high school your interest and personality truly matters.
2. Whatever you study will have literally nothing to do with what you do after uni. This goes especially for Bachelors of Arts and may be different for Bachelors of Science, but a lot of uni courses are still based on the assumption, that you will move onto being a scholar, while you are actually just trying to get a job in this economy. And while it may be nice to have the ability to understand discourse and to handle methods well, this is not something your future employer will ever ask of you.
3. Do fucking internships. Because the stuff you learn inside the class room is highly theoretical and almost never applicable to real life, please make sure to go out in the world and work for a few weeks in your semester break to a) understand what work life will actually be like and b) to figure out that even if your grades aren´t the best you may have the right work ethic or other skills and that´s what matters.
4. Do not just study to study. I get that a lot of people tell you, that you will need a degree to make it in life, which is generally goodish advice, but figure out why you are doing what you are doing. I would recommend anyone to take a gap year, to travel and to maybe work in different fields you are interested in, instead of starting a degree, hating it for three years and then having to work in said field for the rest of your life. So find out what you really want to do.
5. There will be shitty times. Exam season is tough and you will cry in the library at least once. It is tough to not be financially independent or even having to go into debt for years, it is tough to have no actual security of getting a job, it is so tough to have so little stability in your life. But these times will definitely pass.
6. There will be great times. So many great times to be honest. You will live in a city with most of your close friends, you get to redefine how people see you and no one will know about that embarrassing time you got really, really drunk and you threw french fries at your ex at a party and you will be surrounded by people who are interested in the same stuff as you and that´s absolutely wonderful. So enjoy every moment.
7. You will change. A lot. And that is damn good. You will be able to be yourself and you will learn so much more about you and you are likely to be a lot happier than in high school. But you changing may mean that you grow out of a couple of friendships and also relationships. And while that is hard it is important. You should not stay the same person you were at 16, growth is healthy and important and loosing someone along the way may be beneficial for the both of you in the long run.
8. No one is coming to save you. You are at least theoretically an adult now and while I still always call my parents on tough days, there are not there anymore to always take care of me. So you have to start taking care of yourself, which begins with learning to feed yourself one way or the other, but extends to making your life nice, by treating yourself to fresh flowers every week and take out on the weekends and it sadly also extends to having to pick yourself of from the bathroom floor when you have been crying your eyes out and tucking yourself into bed. But boy will that make you stronger.
9. University is a minuscule part of life. It is a real fun time, but it will not define you and neither will your grades. Your ability to perfectly analyse the foreign policy of the United States will not make or break your life, so please honestly do not kill yourself over a couple of bad grades.
10. Get into extracurricular stuff! I made some of the best friends in the world, in the Association of Foreign Affairs of my university and I am a hundred percent sure, that future employers will be a lot more impressed with the fact that I was active in an online magazine throughout almost my entire time at uni than with my grades.
11. Use your opportunities. Uni offers so much great stuff, be it associations to get involved with ot free language classes or lectures with cool people so get on that! You will never ever regret taking these chances and people will definitely charge you for all this later on. Also go to as many nice festivals or demonstrations and even parties as you can. Three (or even five) years will pass sooner than you can imagine.
12. The people working at universities usually went from school to uni and then stayed there for ever. They have no knowledge of how the real world works and they will not make your life easy. The abundance of incompetence I have been met with is incomprehensible. I have had scans sent to me without a signature, or even just a white copy, I have messaged eight to nine people and got an answer from one and I was not let into an office, because the secretary "had never opened that door before". So to be honest if you want anything done, do it yourself.
13. You will literally always feel broke. It does not matter if you have 1000 or 10 Euros in your account, you will always feel broke. So you might as well just buy yourself some nice ice cream.
14. Do not listen to 40-something year olds telling you how to live your life. Yes they may have been at university too, but times have changed. You can now do a lot more creative stuff and still get a job, you do not have to study business to be successful and for most companies today your language skills, experience abroad and motivation will be more important than your exact major.
15. Drinking at 22 is not the same as drinking at 16, it´s not even the same as drinking at 19. You have to drink water girl and you have to get a night snack and you will not be able to drink two days in a row, let alone work after a night out so stop kidding yourself.