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Things I did in University + Advice for the Future

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I  was more than elated when I was asked to turn back the hands of time and give myself advice when I was in University 6 years ago! Yes, you read that right 6 years ago. The photos don't show my true age (thank God) so I can easily pass for a "freshas" as we called first year students. Keep reading as I recount my years as a University student of yester-year and the advice I would give to "College Me" + Advice for the future.

The pathway to the rest of my life .. or so I thought as a 1st year student. I don't remember there being a sign or I was just too short to notice. 

Department of Language, Linguistics and Philosophy. This is the place that had all the info I needed about my major from classes to the many complaints of Lecturers who had material from 4 years ago still on a projector.  I had a love-hate relationship with this place as it was extremely small and always packed

My Major + 1st Day

It all started in the Faculty of Humanities and Education in the Department of Language, Linguistics and Philosophy at the University of the West Indies Mona. Fun fact: I failed the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication entry exam as it was solely based on Jamaican History, Media and things that I did not know. I did well on the Pop Culture Section but messed up royally on other parts :-) The next best thing was Language, Communication and Society so I opted for that and was in for the challenge of a lifetime (in 3 years) On the first day, I felt like a fish out of water, everybody else looked like scary giants as I looked up lost and confused standing at just 5"0". I saw a handsome stranger and decided to ask for directions and he was so kind and pointed me to the Faculty office where I was recognized by students from my High School that I did not know remember. If you are a Freshman in College, as daunting as it might seem , never ever be afraid to ask for help! It will save you so much time and money to ask someone who did it before you. Ask for help as it relates to classes to take, books to read and how to cheese your way to an A with the lecturers. Ladies! there is a way to sell yourself without actually selling your self if you catch my drift. For example, I was advised by a previous student that my History Lecturer liked when people laughed at his corny jokes , sat at the front and participated in class.

This is the path I walked on to and from classes , the Library and other Faculties. This path was traversed quite frequently  by us Humanities who wanted "justice" on papers we wrote from our Lecturers. The doors behind me are where we had tutorials (smaller classes) and some Lecturers were based there

This is "N3" where I had most of my classes from Philosophy, Linguistics, Entertainment and one time I went to a Club Meeting there | At UWI we didn't have a home-room so N3 was pretty much it for us. This classroom was always freezing so we all had to have hoodies

Life As a Full Time Student

Classes were intense! As a full-time 1st year student, I had classes from 8 a.m to 9 p.m! There was hardly any free time or any time to idle, yet there are people who still wasted time and only showed up for exams! Kids, consider it a luxury and privilege to attend College/University and don't waste time as there are many people who would love to be in your shoes. I recommend making a timetable in MS word or Excel of all your classes.. include lectures, tutorials and consultation Hours. Grrrl (and guys) those Consultation Hours are a life saver! Most lecturers will reserve time slots where students can go in with any questions and queries. Ensure you are prepared and never go in like a total dumbbell expecting to get the answers from the Lecturers. Always, be prepared for the worst as I like to say. As it relates to course work, ensure you read your outline carefully and know where you really need to put in work. Back then it was 60% Exams and 40% coursework. The pass mark for us was 40% so you know that if you get 40% on your coursework (which was easy if you did all your assignments and studied for tests) and got another 40% on exams that would be a total of 80% which would be an A. Being a straight A was doable as a student as it required skill, determination and of course perseverance.

The "N" Block was where I had mainly Philosophy and Language classes (French) and tutorials. I hated the way it was numbered as they upgraded some classrooms and they would be on opposite ends so we would literally walk yards across the lawn from "N 1" to "N3"

The Commuting Students Lounge was the hang-out spot for students who did not live on campus and had no place to be. Some of my fondest memories and greatest friendships were here. This is where all the drama went down! 

Being a Commuting Student , Parties + Study Tips

As a commuting student, adjusting to Campus life was a bit hard as I felt like students who lived on Campus all had this special bond and they were a part of everything. The commuting students lounge in my Faculty was my saving grace. As the name suggests, it was a lounge area for commuting students to go between classes. They had day-beds which I slept on numerous times, I recommend taking a small towel or something to lay over this before you put your face there. It was set up like a living room, with soft chairs and a T.v , Bathroom , lockers , kitchenette, eating area, computer room and an outdoor area. Back then it was the place to be and everyone knew everyone! My favorite memories are Commuting Students day where we have a parade, party and of course food! While we are on the topic of party... nothing is wrong with parties but I do recommend getting your assignments and course work done (properly) so you can really appreciate it. At University, you definitely need a balance. The University I went to is known for epic parties and a few staple ones like Hardwine, Carnival, Jouvert and so much more. Ladies! never take drinks from strangers! and always pace yourself! My friends and I always went in groups; if one person wasn't going, we would all not go!

Beehive Lunch Spot. This was named because of it's odd shape similar to a "Beehive". Like a Beehive, at lunchtime this place was extremely noisy as it attracted swarms of students from all Faculties buzzing around and eating.

Nardos Stall. On campus everybody knows about Nardos stall. If you are short on lunch money talk to Nardo and he will give you something hot like his famous Hot Dog or Soup! Ensure you pay back as soon as you can. We love Nardo because he is hard-working and honest and we all experienced his "come-up". He was featured numerous time in Media for all that he does on campus.

Food, Saving + Fun



There are so many great places to eat on campus and I started I gained the "Freshman 15" or 10 in my case because of my poor eating habits. I quickly grew tired of On campus food and opted for off-campus options. In order to afford this, I relied on the Off Campus bus which was pretty much already paid for and all you had to do is have your I.D to ride. It went off campus to the other University nearby, and it went to commercial areas that had banks and malls etc. If you have an option like this available, make use of it as it will save you money. One thing I wished I did differently was to eat off campus less as the area was more of an upper middle class area which meant the food was expensive. I had a classmate told me that if I invested the money I spent on fast food it would be better for me in the long run. I really wished I took his advice as I would be sitting on a nice nest egg :-) One thing about my Faculty is that we are considered more artsy and creative and our clothes should reflect that. You were basically known by what you wore. There was a guy who literally wore a green polo shirt and combat boots everyday and that's what we called him "the guy in the green polo shirt and boots" I saved money on clothing by purchasing my items in bulk. Whenever I traveled, I stacked up on Jeans and tons of tops so I could create multiple outfits. I would occasionally save my a portion of my lunch money to purchase items that I needed. I wished I had tips on financial aid and tuition but mine was paid by my father ( no loan) but I can tell you to always check with the bursar to see what options are available. For any of my U.S. readers who had to take out loansrefinancing student loans is an option too .

I remember a friend getting a Grant to pay for 2 semesters because of her grades and you can get a job on campus if that is available. At my University, they would always need invigilators during exams and people for events on campus. These were all paid by the hour so if you are interested in any of these, jump on it early as you are not the only one wanting the job.


Regrets




I definitely regretted not being more active in "activities". I did dancing for one semester and stopped and I tried out for the cheer leading team but stopped because training was kinda lame. I also regretted not being more vocal on campus and going out for one of the posts during the student elections.


Advice to Future Students



University can be the best and worst time of your life and it all depends on how you view it. Ensure that you have a goal and a plan in mind with a clear outline on how you plan to achieve them. Ensure that you are mentally, emotionally and financially prepared and ready to start! I have lost friends in first year who failed to live up to certain standards and had to quit school. Please do not go in thinking it's a free for all and you can go in, dress cool and act a fool. You will learn really fast that it is not High School and you will fail if you are not ready! Ensure that you go in with an open mind and not a sheltered one.

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2 comments on "Things I did in University + Advice for the Future"
  1. :) Memories. I would do it all over again! A different Major though, and would ensure It was a major and a minor when I complete. Maybe in future, I will be able to go back for my Masters

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    1. Grrrl ... I went there on Sunday to take these photos and was teary eyed. I had no idea the impact UWI had on me until now. I'm contemplating a Journalism or Mass Comm 2nd Degree as well ... then maybe a Masters. Great, great times :-)

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