I have taken my first step into higher education by starting to study International Business Management at Artevelde University College in September 2016 in Ghent, Belgium. Living on my own for the first time, I had to take my time settling down to my new life, meeting new people, and balancing this with my studies. It’s December and the first semester of IBM is close to ending. Time really does fly and now the January exams are just around the corner. My time now is being dedicated to organizing the notes I have made throughout the semester and to making the summaries for each of the 5 courses I have to take, minus ICCS because that was permanent evaluation. The courses were Banking & Finance, Economics, Logistics, Law and German.
I feel nervous about the upcoming exams, as well as unprepared and anxious that I haven’t been putting as much effort as I probably should have, and that I have taken things too lightly. This is my first time every in higher education, so I don’t know what to expect regarding the difficulty or the length of the exams. I feel like I’m going in there completely blind. Looking back, I think I have been missing a lot of classes that I should have gone to, just because I didn’t enjoy them and they made me feel like I wasn’t as smart as the rest, like German and Banking & Finance. I also noticed now that I am gathering all my materials to make my summaries, that I haven’t taken as many notes as I could have to make the summaries and study properly.
Regarding the courses, during my favorite one, ICCS, I realized that in between all the good memories I’ve made thus far, I also had low points since moving to Belgium, which I now had a name for, “Culture shock”. ICCS wasn’t the only lecture that taught me more about myself apart from teaching me academic knowledge, but I saw that Talent Development did too. I had never heard of this course before, but with each class and each module, I understood more about it. As we moved on through the course modules, I could see how each one was linked back to making me a better prepared manager for the future, by first making sure I was self-aware of myself as a student and as a person, for example, to know and understand my motivations, my strengths and weaknesses, how I study and prepare for exams and the stress that comes with them, etc., and how this reflects on which kind of manager and professional I will become later on. Each module so far has made me stop for a minute and actually think about the how and why of each action I take as an individual, and that made me feel anxious for the future. I’m only a student now, but how will I manage when I get a job and become a professional worker? This is one of the questions that frequently popped in my head with each module that I had to prepare for this course, and I took this question with me to every other IBM course as well.
This lack of endeavor and determination with my studies has caused me to be stressed now and nervous that I might fail because I didn’t take things as seriously as I should have. From September up to this point in December, I can honestly say that I’ve learnt considerable things about myself, my work and study ethics, aspects that I would most likely never had truly reflected upon before if I was in a different course, and has made me realize that I need to change for the better regarding my studies and start being more responsible. Moving so far away from home has given me independence and maturity, it has pushed me to learn how to deal with obstacles by myself, but I know I still have a long way to go.
I hate uncertainty and I want to change my methods for the next semester as soon as it begins. First, I noticed that taking notes by writing them down in my notebook is too time consuming, specially when the lecturers speak so fast that while I am still writing down one idea, they have already moved to another topic. So my plan is to simply take notes in my laptop. I have also promised myself to go to every class that I have, without regarding if I enjoy that class or not. I also want to improve my note-taking during class, as I started in September with great class notes but I think that they have dropped in quality a bit by now in December.
Now that I’m aware of so many aspects to my student life, the way I work, and have my objectives clearer in my mind, I want to, for example, improve my study method as I now think that it takes me way too long to be fully prepared for exams. I tend to make summaries, read from the textbook, my own notes and power points and then write them all down in a notebook, but now that I see that takes too long and gives me little time to give to studying all courses, I will switch it up to printing the syllabus and highlighting and reading from there for each course, which I’ve already started doing for one of my courses, Banking and Finance.
Having become self-aware of my own weaknesses after this first semester by doing the SWOT analysis (which was a great starting point for me as student and future manager), now all I want to achieve is to turn these weaknesses into strengths for the next semester. For example, I knew that I’m not the best at public speaking, and thinking about the “Opportunities” section of the SWOT analysis made me realize that what I could do to improve more on that, like mandatory public presentations for courses like ICCS (which I ended up having quiet a few by now). I also want to start planning my study time better, prioritizing courses I don’t understand. I also have to watch out for one of my main weaknesses I’ve spotted so far, which is procrastination, a weakness that has slowed down my study progress a lot that I know I can improve on for the next semester, now that I have my goals clear and I know which job I want to pursue after IBM.