Before arriving at Sussex, the image I had envisaged of the university student Eva three months down the line was me slaving away until the early hours of the morning, frantically scribbling out essays, stooped over my desk every night surrounded by piles of books wearing thick reading glasses I had never needed before and chain smoking under the musty light of an old desk lamp and struggling to concentrate in a chaotic student flat. As it turned out this image was to be far from reality. The truth is, university work is different but not alien, it is a step up but it isn’t impossible or even necessarily more stressful than A-levels. I would be lying if I said I haven’t found aspects of it challenging (for me it has been mainly my self motivation) but then, who hasn’t? In fact this first term has given me the opportunity to explore the potential of my university – both academically and otherwise, whilst simultaneously providing me with the foundations for my course. I now know what I don’t know in regards to my knowledge of political history but importantly I also now know how to find and use the resources that can help me.
At first, the words ‘journals’, ‘e-books’ and even ‘Study Direct’ seemed to be titles of things created to confuse me rather than to help me but they soon became second nature; I am now completely reliant on them for my studies and independent research. I initially felt repulsed by the idea of solely using the online resources provided to me by my tutors via the Study Direct website rather than using actual books, but I have now learnt to appreciate the ease of access and speed and yet that it is still possible to use books too. Most readings are set out clearly by my teachers on my Study Direct page and most of the time all I have to do is click a link to open a chapter of a book. This comes in handy when revisits to previous weeks’ work are needed to write essays or for exam revision and means that if you’re a last-minute reviser like me, everything you might need is easy and quick to find.
So I suppose what has surprised me most about first term is how computer-reliant my academic life is, from communicating with classmates and teachers through forums on Study Direct to using Google Docs in my lectures for taking notes, university has transformed a technophobe to a technoaddict, which I am still not sure is good or bad.