When I submitted my final assignment a few weeks ago, it dawned on me that I have spent almost as much time at ANU as I did at high school and college – that's 5.5 years!
After my initial reaction of shock, disbelief and a little bit of freaking out at how quickly time has flown by, I started to think. I reflected on the highs and lows of my time at ANU, what I have learned in and out of the classroom and how I have developed as a person.
There are a few key messages I would tell 19 year-old Claire at the beginning of her uni journey, and here they are…
There is so much more to uni than good grades.
Yes, they’re important. Yes, they can be useful when getting a job. Yes, university is about learning. But, other experiences are valuable in other, equally as important ways. Take time out of your week to catch up with friends, play lunch time sport and do activities that you love with people you get along with. I really embraced this in my final semester, am happier than ever for it and have developed new skills as a result. Plus, my grades didn’t even suffer.
You are responsible for your own journey and experience.
Don’t wait around. If there’s something you want to do, go out and do it! Only you can make that decision. Although there are a diverse range of experiences out there, for many people, university is one of the only times in your life where you’re likely to have minimal responsibility. Do what makes you happy, challenge and test yourself, and like a good friend says to me, “feel the music”.
Growth and change can be slow.
Like I alluded to at the start of this blog post, I didn’t realise how much I had changed, learned or achieved until recently. Finishing my engineering thesis was incredibly challenging and taxing for me. The work was difficult, I had other responsibilities to juggle and I put a great deal of pressure on myself to produce an exceptional piece of work. A friend told me to imagine 1st, 2nd or even 3rd year Claire in the same position, and when I did, the amount of change I had experienced became crystal clear.
Not only had I clearly learnt a lot about engineering, my critical thinking and problem solving skills had become drastically better, as had my ability to juggle multiple deadlines, deal with unexpected challenges and cope with stress.
My mindset and the way that I now approach challenges and setbacks differs hugely to five years ago, but there is no clear point in time where the change occurred. Growth does not happen overnight. It takes time, patience and diversity of experience. I think many people would agree with this. Challenge yourself and find what makes you thrive, because this will help you develop as a person and a professional.
The beauty of reflection is that you can gather fantastic lessons from it. Although my points above are about university, they will also apply to the next chapter of my life. I’m not expecting my onward journey to be completely smooth and I'll certainly need to listen to my own advice from time to time. University has taught me to seek challenging experiences that promote change, and to take time to do what makes me happy. These lessons are invaluable and certainly worth all the ups and downs of university life.
And with that, I’m signing off!
I hope my blog posts have sparked a thought or two, and if anything, have made the prospect of an engineering degree or studying at ANU, a little less daunting.
All the best,