Starting university can be daunting for everyone, but our guest blogger, Severine Robert, has some top tips to get you off to a flying start.
Getting to know Queen's
There you are in front of Queen’s, about to embark on this adventure. Now you have to get to know the university and its multiple services, so that you can really enjoy this new experience. Personally, I was very pleased when I discovered that most important buildings are located very near each other (Student Guidance Centre, the library, the Graduate School and even Botanic Gardens!).
You can access an online campus map here. It is very likely that according to your field of study, there will be one or two specific locations where most of your classes will be located. There are also maps all over the campus so don't worry, you will find your way.
Getting to know the library
The library is a key place for all students. I was amazed when I got inside for the first time (holding a valid student card is mandatory both to entry and exit), by the variety of topics and amounts of books available! I sometimes like to get lost in the library to discover interesting and unique books.
I suggest that you first attend a workshop, usually offered at the beginning of the academic year, on how to use the resources so that you really become efficient in your research. You can also find lots of information online by checking Queen’s guide to accessing library resources.
Learning how to use Queen’s Online (QOL)
Queen’s online is the online platform used by students and lecturers. It is essential that you learn how to use it in order to access module guides and teaching resources (chapters, PowerPoints, any other documents). During my first week studying at Queen’s, one of my colleagues kindly helped me to get to know it, and since then I have helped other students too. It is a very intuitive platform so there is nothing too complicated. My advice is to approach Queen’s online as a tool because it is designed to help you.
Don't be afraid to ask for help
There is a truly fantastic team of people working for Queen’s that are there to guide you, especially during the welcome week! If you have already registered and received your student card, you probably have met some of the staff already. If you have any questions, you can email the person in charge, whether it is for bureaucratic matters or academic ones. I like to get in touch by email when I have something to ask, as it is easy and I usually always get a quick answer.
Keep up the pace
Once you have started the academic year, and especially if you are not familiar with the anglophone teaching style, you might find it hard to follow up at first.
Let me explain - at Queen’s you have access to online resources related to your modules. The resources include papers that you are supposed to read before any teaching session so that you come prepared with an insight to the material. Then, in class, the lecturer usually does a presentation after which you can ask questions and discuss.
So basically, you can go in class without having read anything, but you will miss an essential part of the subject you are studying which is the discovery of the literature (useful for essays), the ability to reflect on concepts before class and you might hear some terms that you won’t understand, because you haven’t come prepared. From my experience, preparation work is essential in order to memorise key concepts and to avoid being lost when exam time arrives.