Second year: the idea is exciting and thrilling yet absolutely daunting at the same time. You tell yourself that it’s going to be just like last year just harder and with more work. However, in my personal experience, although of course you do have to work hard, second year is a lot more about personal growth and direction. You are a lot more comfortable in your course and in your surroundings that you begin to explore the other parts of University too.
First year is all about settling in and getting used to the basics of University, some people stay with those they meet in halls and just go to their lectures and that’s okay. However second year is all about branching out more. You really get the chance to give something back, especially in lectures. You have a much better idea of the modules you’d like to study, and feel a lot more confident picking and choosing your module selection. Granted, contact hours lessen slightly and independent learning increases, but your confidence within the department has grown a huge amount and you find yourself becoming a lot more organised, knowing most members of the department and understanding a lot more how everything works. You put your revision and working techniques into practise, as you learn a lot from your first year essays and exams such as what works for you and what doesn’t. Some people also chose modules from other areas of the university such as a Institute Wide Language Programme language module in Arabic or Russian. Second year, for me, was an opportunity to showcase my confidence. I put my hand up a lot more in lectures and seminars, contributing my opinions and ideas even if I am not completely sure I’m right. I am much happier to test the waters anyway, as you learn a lot from trying!
Lots of people get even more involved with societies. Joining a society will help make your time at university more memorable; it will also help develop your employability skills for after university. At the University of Reading there really is so much you can get involved in as a student, from Quidditch to the business society, and from caving to the Beyoncé society. Joining also gives you the chance to make even more friends who are interested in similar things.
Second year is the year that I’ve started to grab the bull by the horns and get everything done. The fact that second year counts towards your final degree grade is also a massive motivational push, and instead of seeing it as scary, I see it as a challenge as it makes me put that extra bit of effort in every time I go to a lecture or write an essay.
So overall second year is a year of action and a big step to the future, you get out of it everything that you put in! I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.