Differences Between First and Second Year

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By Gloria, Computer Science
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Birmingham

My post today is about the main differences I experienced between first and second year.

The first thing I realised was that this ranges greatly for different people. For example, I felt much more comfortable in the second year of my particular course (Computer Science). The course has changed a few times but in my particular experience, second year did feel better.

The one big difference was my attitude to university. The first semester of first year is especially hard in getting used to being away from family and friends and getting used to a completely new environment on your own. At first, homesickness and adapting to a learning style different to the structured nature of A-Levels was tricky – but it does get easier!

By second year I had my friends, I knew Birmingham better, and I knew how to cope better. This allowed me to focus on my work a lot more without having to go home as often because I had settled in. My work and social balance became a lot better and this proved to improve my mental health a lot too. By second year, I also knew how best to revise and find support for my course. I knew exactly where to go and felt more prepared and less hopeless when I was stuck with my work.

In second year, I found the Computer Science modules more varied than first year, and the variety made the course engaging and accessible. Your social life is different too because you find people are less interested in going ‘out out’ and more interested in hanging out with their friends – whether that is trips to the pub or exploring Birmingham.

The aura in second year felt a lot more lighthearted and organic, and overall more focused and motivating. If first year is difficult for you, pushing through to second year may have you pleasantly surprised. Familiarising yourself with resources available and talking to people for advice is a very important step in getting used to university life.