Lessons Learned: Growing up at university

Four months ago, I finished five years of studies at Aalborg University in Denmark. It was a joyous day that I spent with good friends from uni, a delicious dinner and some world class wine. For me, graduation marked the end of an era. Now, life was starting as a grown-up (…ish), and for a long time, I had been waiting for this day to arrive. Here, four months later, I’ve been reflecting on my time at university. Granted, maybe I didn’t grow up at university per se as the head line suggests. I think (or rather hope) that I’ll never truly ’grow up,’ however, it did shape and form me by teaching me some highly valuable lessons, which has made me more grown up as a result.


Through five years of classes, assignments, group work, projects, exams, student exchange, internship, friendships, relationships, parties, abroad relocations etc. – constant learning, I’ve grown up. Through laughter, crying, happiness, sadness, celebration, frustration, facing and overcoming obstacles, hangovers etc., I’ve enjoyed every bit of university – good and bad – in Denmark and abroad. I’ve accomplished so much throughout these last five years and fulfilled many of my dreams – all marked by the infamous square academic cap. Academics aside, I’ve learned some highly useful lessons at university for the future me to prosper from. In retrospect, beside from learning how to budget on SU (Danish Student Grant), various complicated drinking games and knowing for certain how long I can actually stay awake for (49 hours in a row), I here present you with my most treasured lessons learned at uni.

Time Management
I’ll argue that you can’t get through university without managing your time. I’ll also argue that it’s an important lesson to learn for the future – especially, if you want a career. Because, to be able to effectively and efficiently manage your time means that you’ll be able to do it all. However, unfortunately, it also means that you have to cut back on some things and spend less time on these. As a result, though, it is possible to do it all.
For me, time was short at university due to classes and assignments/projects, student jobs, volunteer work as well as friends, family and social activities not to forget the planning and implementing of abroad exchanges and relocations. However, living an active life doesn’t mean that there’s no time for fitting it all in and some occasional spontaneity…or simply a nap. Key is time management – learning how to joggle all your interests.

Before you can fully learn how to manage your time, though, you must learn how to prioritise. Because fact is, with an active life, you don’t have the world’s of time, and you’ll most likely find yourself spending less time on certain things simply because there’s no other way to make it all work.
For me, nothing is more important than to socialise – it’s where I give and get energy. As such, I love spending time with my friends going out for dinner, a movie, a concert or comedy gig, a walk or a party. Just… socialising. Therefore, I quickly learned that I needed to prioritise in order to take care of my education. By questioning what’s important, how important is it and its deadline, you learn how to prioritise. As a result, you find that…

There’s a Time for Everything
There’s a time for classes and assignments/projects, another for student jobs and volunteer work, for friends, family and other social activities… as well as a well-deserved nap. Knowing how to prioritise and manage your time, you’ll find a way to make your busy schedule work.

Critically Thinking
By learning how to question various and different theories within my studies, I’ve learned to think critically about information served to me. This way of thinking is something I have come to use in my everyday life as well – simply because you can’t trust all information served to you.
Fore me, living in an era driven by information, it’s important not to believe everything you hear. As a result, you need to question things…and people. You need to think critically! There’s always a motivation and bias behind any information out there. As such, it might be necessary to undertake a little research before accepting certain pieces of information as right or wrong.

It’s All About Perspective
There really isn’t a right or wrong per se, though – it’s all about perspective. If you think about it, people are all different. Sure, there are similarities, however, every person is a puzzle made up of various and different pieces. As such, every person is unique. Hence, discussing certain issues, I’ve quickly learned that it’s all about perspective – and if you want to do yourself (and your counterpart) a favour, accept this and try to put yourself in your counterpart’s place. If you succeed, you might be able to understand where the s/he is coming from and his or her perspective – even if you don’t agree.
For me, this has especially been useful during my abroad relocations, as cultures indeed are as diverse as people. In this sense, being aware and able to understand cultural differences has helped me cope abroad as well as changed my life in more than one way.

Dreams Come True
I’ve always dreamed big. I think it’s important to dream big! You don’t have to be unrealistic while dreaming big, though, as some think. No, you simply have to set yourself some reachable goals and then build on them, once you reach them – step by step. With a lot of hard work and determination, it’s my experience that dreams do come true.

The More You Learn, The Less You Know
One of the first things I learned at University was Rene Sartre’s ”I think, therefore I am”; while the last thing I’ve learned is the fact (and yes, it is a fact) that the more you learn, the less you know. By gradually becoming aware of how big the world really is with all its constructs and paradoxes, I’m sure: There’s always more knowledge to acquire…and various perspectives to consider… It’s funny how education can make you feel extremely intelligent at times while at other times make you seriously question your intelligence.

In the midst of it, university, at times, seemed like a never ending story. Now, four months later, it seems as if time went by flying. It has been a wonderful experience that I remember with a smile on my lips. Although I’m certain I, at times, will miss the time at university including all the great friends I’ve met there, I don’t doubt for a second that the best is yet to come. We make our own luck and fortune, right!?

xo P!