Fresher experiences: my first lectures
By Annie Graham,
University lectures are fairly elusive things. I say this in the sense that until you get to one and find yourself surrounded by a sea of other, nervous, expectant faces, you don’t know what to expect. Unlike aspects of uni such as Fresher’s week, hall life, and learning how to make pasta, I for one had hardly heard anything about what a lecture would be like; it remained a bit of a mystery!
One of my first ‘proper’ lectures began with a friendly-looking lecturer informing the room that, although he would usually expect mobiles to be switched off during future sessions, just this once we should keep them on. His unusual request was that we text him a guilty pleasure, if and when we were brave enough to do so! I must admit that I can’t quite remember what the real lesson of this lecture was. However, the conclusion that saw him amusedly revealing our confessed loves of such things as the Daily Mail Online (gasp!), Downton Abbey (I certainly wouldn’t class this pleasure as guilty) and Steps (we’re all secret fans) ensured that everyone left the room laughing and chatting away, excited at the prospect of lectures to come.
The reality is that not all lectures are quite as unconventional as this. The very first lectures that you, as Freshers, are likely to attend will be introductory ones and will probably involve general department and module information being given, along with a chance to ask any questions you may have: I had two main worries before my first lecture: a) that I would be the only person turning up on my own, and b) that I would feel completely out of my depth when they began talking about the work. Thankfully, both concerns were soon eased. I quickly realised that nobody had come to class with a ready-made band of course buddies, and once inside the theatre, it became clear that lecturers do understand that university is a step out of the well-trodden territory of A-levels and into the unknown. We were not thrown, without care, in at the deep end.
The time before lectures can sometimes be a great chance to begin meeting those on your course. I know it’s a horrendous cliché, but everyone really is in the same boat; although some are going to be more confident in approaching people than others, everyone seems to welcome an impromptu conversation with a new face.
There may not be a whole lot of preparation that you can do for your first lectures, aside from any required reading you may decide to get a head start on. I would advise you equip yourself with a pen and some paper, though (or a laptop/tablet of course!). It may seem obvious, but I would class this equipment as vital; it always surprised me that some people never seemed to take any notes at all. Maybe their memories were just far better than mine, but it’s less stressful not to have to rely on this! My humble advice would be to be ready to jot down the odd bit of information that you think may be useful, or just find interesting. You shouldn’t feel you need to meticulously take down every word the lecturer says, but you may find ‘that snappy quotation’ comes in handy when exams come around.