A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
A lot can change in a year, as we all know well. What I didn’t expect is for the whole essence of my program to change so extremely from year one to year two. And, by extension, me with it.
My thinking was always around the same line- 1 bachelor= 3 years (I do try to live a life of simplicity). It’s really simple math. But I never thought that those three years would be so different from one another! I mean, it’s all just studying at the end of the day, isn’t it? Then why should a year differ from its preceding one?
Boy, was I wrong.
With hindsight, I should have realized my mistake during the first week of this year. To be honest, it’s still the worst week I had here. We had three assignments due that week, and 11 chapters of reading to do, all for three different courses. The first week of the semester. Yeah.
I remember the complete and utter shock we all went into. “This can’t be right”, “how are they doing this?” and all the usual student bickering. It was so difficult that I told a friend that if it went on like that for one more week, I was going to drop out and go back home.
But, thankfully, it didn’t. And I’m still here.
But that should have been the first sign that this year was not going to be like last year. It was going to be more difficult, challenging, demanding. It was designed to change our perspectives, force us to think and plan for the future, and to do more than just what’s necessary. So what were the biggest changes?
Think of your career, plan for your Master’s– a huge emphasis throughout this year was to make choices towards an end goal, that goal being a career in psychology. For those of us who didn’t think so far, this was often scary and stressful.
No more excuses– as the level and difficulty of the program increased, so did the expectations. We had to work harder, do more, and deal with less acceptance and support from the university.
Personal development– not just the name of a course, but really a theme in all the courses we took. In my opinion, the big hierarchy gap between us and our tutors and lecturers seemed to decrease a little this year, as our understanding of the university and the field increased so rapidly.
You’re on your own path-with the beginning of the electives and specializations, for the first time we all have our own personalized program. It’s really interesting to suddenly not have the same classes as your best friends, and I found it fascinating to see how they chose differently from me.
To wrap things up, I guess it was naive of me to expect things to stay the same. Luckily, we get used to things very quickly, so adapting to the fast pace and high expectations of this year was rather quick. Looking ahead, I can’t wait to see what next year is going to be like. One thing’s for sure- I am not going to even try to imagine it.