5 Life Lessons I Learnt At University

What I Learnt At University

A while back I took a survey asking you guys what you wanted to see on lifesfinewhine and one of the things that was mentioned a lot was stuff about university. Someone suggested that I do a post about lessons I learnt at university and I thought that was a really good idea. By the way the survey is still open so feel free to leave suggestions by clicking here.
These lessons are not going to be about the subjects I learnt although in case you’re interested I’m a history major. Instead, I’ll be focusing on other things I have picked up after being a full time university student for the last three years. Since I study in Canada but I’m Kenyan my experiences may differ a little as international students do tend to have different experiences.
I also think that being a history major also helped me pick up on certain lessons I may not have learnt doing other courses. I think when you study history you just understand the present so much better because you see what it has evolved from and that helps you understand life better. Or maybe that’s just me…
Anyway, here are the main lessons I have picked up from university as a full time student for the last three years:

School Doesn’t Teach You Everything

As a history major in particular one thing that I have really picked up over the years is that school/college/university really does not teach you everything. A lot of what you need to know to survive in the world is stuff you are going to have to pick up on your own often through experience.
And about the things that university does teach you- every professor/teacher has their own point of view and their own opinions. They can and of course should try to teach in as much of an unbiased way as possible but at the end of the day they are going to teach you what they believe is the truth or what they think you should learn. The sources you use, the books you use, the articles you use- everything is going to have an agenda.
If you really want to learn something in an unbiased way make sure you do your own research and read about both sides. You don’t need to agree with both sides or even either side but just knowing that information will help you uncover the truth because there really are three sides to everything. Never fully rely on just one source of information or one POV/school of thought.

Grades Don’t Really Matter

Okay, that subheading is not entirely true. Yes, grades do matter but only to an extent. When it comes to work or other things your grades are going to be something that people will look at. I’m definitely not saying don’t work hard or don’t bother trying to get good grades because you should try the very best you can and try to get the best grades you can.
However, grades are not the end of the world and they are not the only thing that matters. It’s sort of like when you were in high school and you were obsessed with test scores or exams scores but when you entered university it sort of did not matter as much how you did in high school and suddenly how you did in university became much more important. Well, when you think about like your university grades sort of seem a bit insignificant. Again, yes they can help land you a good job etc. But there is also so much more to life than grades. Don’t forget to experience those things too.
And if you happen to not get the grade you want for a particular course don’t beat yourself up about it. It happens to everyone and most universities do let you redo courses or take different courses instead. It’s okay to mess up sometimes as long as you learn from your mistakes and try harder next time.

Always Be Proactive

I think this something that I REALLY learnt at university. The workload at university is no joke and you learn relatively quickly that if you do not start planning your self out ahead of time and doing what you have time earlier you are going to quickly find yourself in a downward spiral.
I think being proactive is a really important thing to learn as an adult because it not only helps you with university but with life as well. I talked about this in more detail in my blogging journey posts but one thing that really helps me stay regular with posting on this blog and maintaining this blog in general is being proactive. I try to plan myself out in such a way that I always have something ready to post in case I get busy with other things. And this has helped me stay active which consequently has helped me grow the blog.
Being proactive, knowing how to properly plan everything out, having a daily schedule and things like this are so incredibly important in life. It really helps you focus on your goals better and teaches you to make the best use of your time. If you look at a lot of successful people you see that they have the same amount of hours as you every day but they use them very wisely and make the most of what they have got.

Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

I think one thing that university has helped me a lot with is getting out of my comfort zone. Moving to a different country on a different continent can be a lot of change and it meant that I pretty much had to get out of my comfort zone and experience a lot of new things I otherwise never would have. Yes, it was quite difficult but it was also such an incredibly rewarding experience that if I had to I would definitely do it all over again.
As you guys may know I suffer from anxiety and all this change can be a lot even for someone without anxiety so you can imagine just how ridiculously anxiety inducing it was for me. But at the same time I felt like I had been stuck in a rut and was just doing the same things over and over again with no satisfaction.
That is why I forced myself to study abroad because as scary as it was I knew that I needed it for my own mental well being. And university also really made me get out of my comfort zone. It helped me get better at taking charge which was something I was formerly horrible at, speaking in front of people and much more.
I am so grateful to be out of my little box and now I have become a person who is so much more open to new experiences such as travelling, meeting new people, trying new things (not currently due to the pandemic obviously). I think of everything I could have missed out had I stayed in my comfort zone and I am so thankful I got out.

Do What You Genuinely Love

As you may or may not know depending on how long you have followed this blog, I did not want to major in History when I first decided to enroll at university. I was actually going to major in Psychology but decided to major in History later on instead. The reason I did not want to major in history was because I was kind of like- well what are you going to do after your done with the degree? I did not want to do law or anything like that. I just wanted to study History.
But I’m super glad I ended up majoring in History because as much as I loved and still love Psychology I don’t think it would have been the right major for me. I also don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed learning history. I think doing what your heart tells you to do or rather listening to your gut is very important because sometimes the universe knows things that you do not and is trying to nudge you in the right direction.
But basically what this situation taught me was that do what you love and everything else will fall in place. And honestly, I have seen that happen again and again with everything in my life. I freak out about something but the universe ends up taking care of it. It was like that with this blog too- I was stressed out and wanted to blog regularly but things were not falling into place. But then they did and just like that everything worked out.


Have you ever studied abroad? What were some of the lessons you picked up at university? Did you have any similar experiences or learn any similar lessons as those that I have mentioned above? What was/is your major? Do you work in the same field you majored in?

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94 responses to “5 Life Lessons I Learnt At University”

  1. While I certainly value education and along with my corporate administration have taught distance learning programs for some universities the facts are one could have an education degree but be out of their depth in either teaching or other professional pursuits. Having knowledge in the head but not being able to communicate it or apply it makes that person a misfit. I’ve met people with PhD who fit that description. Fortunately the great majority with that higher education are able to communicate and apply and students grow under their mentorship. It’s interesting to note too that there are people who are millionaires who dropped out of college because they didn’t feel it was giving them the knowledge they needed and they went on to be top corporate innovators.

    1. I definitely understand what you mean and I agree with it as well. Being book smart is not enough and a education alone can not guarantee your success. Like you said there are millionaires who dropped out of college or didn’t even go to college.

  2. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree with an emphasis on English. I guess you could say I use it – I homeschooled all of my children (some for longer than others!) and I write my blog. I also have a couple of children’s books I would like to publish, but I’m terrified, of course, and not sure where to start. Thinking about Amazon.
    So, Pooja, what are you going to do with your History degree? I’m curious!!!

    1. That’s so great- if I have children I want to homeschool them as well. Wow if you ever do publish them let me know and I really do hope you end up deciding to publish them. Amazon is great if you want to self-publish.
      Right now I am kind of thinking of International Relations because that’s something I am very interested in.

      1. Very cool! You already do that with your blog (I’m in the US & we relate!!! 😁)

        1. Actually blogging is sort of what inspired that idea!

          1. Nicely done! 😊

  3. !!! I feel like I’m learning all of these right now! I am currently a college freshman!

    1. So glad you can relate!!

  4. Everything you said is true. For me, I learned that uni isn’t what movies make them out to be and maybe it’s because I’m an introvert and don’t go out much or have people who respect boundaries around me but I’ve never experienced any sort of peer pressure directly in uni but I also know that everyone’s experience would never be the same. I’m studying Architecture but I don’t know if I’d get a job in the field, I hope I do though. Many people study one thing and graduate and don’t even get to work in that field. Ah, it’s all just so unpredictable.

    1. Omg that is so true! When I went to university for the first time I had all these expectations of what it would be like and all the things that would happen because that’s what I had seen in movies or on TV but it was nothing like that in real life. Yeah a lot of people switch fields.

  5. That was a valiant move of studying abroad. I think it exposed you to new experiences and platforms
    I think the list was more informative and it is true. I agree with you

    1. Thank you and yes it definitely exposed me to a lot of new things!

  6. I definitely agree with your points! Even though I spent my childhood in the US, I had no memory of US educational institutions. After growing up in England and then moving back to the US, I was definitely an international student! It’s weird being a Third Culture Kid as a university student is all I can say! It’s good to get a degree, but I don’t think people should pursue it to get a job. I think people should do what they really want to do and not be penalized for it. I don’t like how university education in the US has become more about producing corporate clones and less about thinking for yourself

    1. Yes I absolutely agree- we shouldn’t be studying just to get a job but rather so we can pursue what we love. Unfortunately, it’s not just the US. I feel like in most countries education has become more about pushing out obedient workers rather than unique beings.

      1. Actually, I just remembered that England is worse than the US about making university education about job training which was why my parents didn’t want me to go to a university in the UK. I must have gone to one of a few universities left that doesn’t exclusively focus on that but you need to know where to look. The business model for education institutions just does NOT work! Also, culture has an influence on the structure of education institutions and how that business model is carried out. I heard some elite universities in the US are planning to open campuses abroad and my gut reaction was, “What are they? Multinational corporations now? Neocolonizers?” Geez. Fortunately, I heard a lot of people say that those universities should try to solve problems in the US first before going overseas.

        1. I did the British education system till university and I’m currently doing my university studies in Canada and I feel like the English system was like that even in school. I would have a similar reaction to them trying to open campuses abroad and I hope they stick with where they are right now. Culture definitely plays a huge role as well.

          1. Oh yeah. Even school in England is like that too. My Mom figured it out early on though and homeschooled me because she knew she could do a better job teaching me. Plus, I hated English school culture and group think! I noticed a lot of immigrants would find other schooling alternatives for their kids if they hated English schools. They would either send their kids to an international school or a school with a different country’s education curriculum. The French school and the Russian school were popular there

            1. That’s lucky. I was homeschooled for a while because I hated school and refused to go lol but I got used to it and ended up going to school for the majority of my life. I loved learning but at the same time now that I am majoring in history and know better I know most of what we learnt was extremely bias crap. I would definitely homeschool my kids if I ever have any.

              1. Exactly! Learning is amazing and I love it, but it’s amazing how just about everything you were taught as a child rarely applies anymore. I definitely think I got more life lessons from being homeschooled and also living overseas than I otherwise would have if I had gone to school

                1. That’s really great- I personally think homeschooling is a better option because at least you can make sure your child gets a more accurate education plus life skills. It’s crazy how we don’t use the majority of the things we learn as kids.

                  1. True. On the other hand, I can see why homeschooling can be abused, and I understand why it’s illegal in certain countries like Germany. I think it’s illegal in France too

                    1. Yeah it’s true some parents can abuse that power.

                    2. Tell me about it!

  7. Those are fantastic lessons.

    1. Thank you!

  8. Well, you’ve summed up all of my thoughts on college with this post. Thanks for sharing them!
    If I may add another point: one thing that I’ve noticed while in college, is that you have to be mature enough to handle certain situations. They won’t take you seriously if you aren’t mature enough to deal with stuff. Also, everyone seems to be relatively chill in college (to an extent)

    1. Yes I absolutely agree- university/college is when you really start behaving like an adult or rather are expected to behave like an adult. And yeah everyone is so much more chill than high school. Thank you!

      1. You’re most welcome!

    2. True, i have encountered colleagues who couldn’t mature at College and are having it hard in the Work place.

  9. Well explained. I can related to though I am from different subject.

    1. Thank you- glad you could relate!

      1. You’re welcome 😊

  10. These are all great observations Pooja, I really liked the way you’ve succicently enumerated them.
    Thanks for this enlightening post 🙂

    1. Thank you so much!

  11. It’s been years since I graduated but I totally agree with you. Most of these realizations come after the college years.

    1. Yeah I am in my last year of university and that’s when I feel like I am picking up on these the most. Thanks for the comment!

  12. Great post and I agree with these points. Often we learn a lot from schooling etc, however it is worth very little if we don’t have any real life experiences.

    1. Yes, exactly! We need to learn than more than just what we learn at school for sure.

  13. Such a brilliant post. I agree to all your points. The part about school not teaching us everything and subjective point of view of people in charge of teaching us was thought provoking. When I was in school and college, I used to lap up everything taught to us by the teachers. You’ve mentioned a great point on researching about the subject and coming to your own judgement. I do that often now whenever I come across any new information. This is indeed the right way of learning. I’m still working on unlearning and relearning new stuff everyday, it’s a long process but I’m enjoying it.

    1. Yeah it takes a while to do your own research but in the end it’s so worth it because you get the full picture. I try very hard not to take what my professors say as the only truth because everyone has their own POV. Thank you and glad you enjoyed the post!

  14. I am going to study abroad for the first time next month and I’m quite nervous and worried, to be honest. But I’m really excited to learn and step out of my comfort zone. I can relate to a lot of the points in this post so thank you for writing it!

    1. Ooh how exciting! Best of luck with studying abroad- it’s scary but also a lot of fun!

  15. I totally agree! I studied in Kenya (home) and I didn’t pick the major I really wanted. I was afraid of being challenged – the whole how will this course help your career question. Thank you for showing me that the university experience is mostly universal, regardless of where you study.

    1. Yes I am pretty sure a large number of people feel that way all over the world. Thank you for commenting!

  16. My studying was a long time ago now Pooj. I was not a very diligent student – did enough to scrape by – but I did get to a hell of a lot of great gigs!

    1. Life experiences are important too!

  17. I totally relate, and the three points, grades don’t matter, School doesn’t teach everything and Doing what you love, applies to what i have encountered in my journey through life.
    I have friends who are doing well today, better than University graduates and they have never been to University or college. I have a friend in particular, close friend of mine who never went back to high for his high school results, a get way to college or university, but invested his precious time trading and getting the education from the streets, today, his business has grown.

    1. I have had the same experience! I have super smart friends who went to Ivy League schools and are doing basic jobs and some friends who started working after high school and are doing really well. It really also depends a lot on you and your life experiences as well as a number of other factors apart from your grades.

      1. And i also believe Education happens everyday, going to school is a formal way of getting educated in order for one to get a formal job in the corporate world, but you can still be educated informally and be successful in doing what you love.

  18. “I think doing what your heart tells you to do or rather listening to your gut is very important because sometimes the universe knows things that you do not and is trying to nudge you in the right direction.”
    …. Very true..and many a times i do get in for something but end up in coming out with something else 🤗and i never regret for that💛haha.. 😄

    1. Yes sometimes you go in for one thing but end up with something even better!

  19. Great list, I think you probably could have done 55…lol I think university taught me 100x more outside of the lecture and study. Living life on your own is the greatest teacher. 🙂

    1. Yes I could easily have done a bunch more lol! Life is definitely a lot more than just lectures and books. Living life, growing, having experiences and doing what you love are also just as important.

  20. I haven’t studied abroad, but I’m always in awe of people who have. I didn’t know what I wanted to study when I was young, so opted for Business. It was useful, but nearly 20 years later I decided my passion was in health, so I studied Health Sciences through distance learning (mostly whilst working) and then progressed to Nutrition & Behaviour at postgraduate level. Planning my time effectively & remaining focused were key to succeeding. It was definitely worth all the hard work & stress 😃

    1. Yeah I think a lot of times when you’re young you really don’t know what you want to be and you end up changing your mind when you get older. I am really glad that you followed your dreams even after all those years!

  21. you’ve learned some great lessons – thanks for sharing! I particularly liked the last two…

    1. Thank you so much- glad you enjoyed the post!

  22. Great post! Being proactive is KEY for me: I know that procrastination is tempting, but how easier is life when you make it more organised? And obviously, I cant agree more that school doesnt teach everything, and sometimes facing the life outside uni can be a real shock!

    1. Thank you! I agree- I used to be a chronic procrastinator but now that I am more organised I get so much more stuff done and I am so much less stressed out. Yes, a lot of people are shocked when they start to actually work and realise how different real life is.

  23. Great points, Pooja. What I am guilty of is that I don’t get out of my comfort zone at all. I like to think I know how, but I’m too familiar and comfortable with my introversion that I don’t want to leave it?
    Regarding doing what I love, I opted for business instead of law, and I wish I didn’t.

    1. I’m quite introverted and I can be like that too but I am glad I am learning to be more open to new things. I’m sorry to hear that but it is hard to pick a major when you’re starting university and honestly as you get older you kind of realise that you should have gone in a different direction.

  24. I almost wrote an article about the same thing but went with the 5 classes I got the most out of instead.
    As for majoring in psychology. That is one of my degrees. It’s a fun degree, and useful on a personal level, but I’ve done nothing with it. I don’t regret it but if I woke up tomorrow and was 19 years old I would probably have done a different major.

    1. Very interesting and I feel the same way about psychology- I enjoyed the classes I took but not enough to major in it.

  25. justcalmwildness Avatar

    I relate to these lessons too especially the grades don’t matter one.

    1. Thanks and yes they really don’t matter that much in real life.

  26. Thank you for this post. I’m still in college but this is a good reminder and tip for me this upcoming semester :).

    1. Thank you and so glad to hear that!

  27. Great thoughts and by following history you make parallels in psychology!!!

    1. Thank you and yes absolutely!

  28. Culture abroad is different, my friends say. It takes time to adjust too. But you’re right: be proactive and go out of your comfort zone. These are some of the things that I often think about when I was still in school.

    1. Yeah I agree it does take a while to adjust. But it also opens you up to so many new experiences which is amazing!

      1. You’re right. Opportunities.

  29. Getting out of your comfort zone is one that I highly agree on

    1. It’s so important to do that!

  30. I completely agree with all your lessons – it is essential to learn to be more proactive with assignments, internships, making friends / joining clubs and def important to step outside your comfort zone! I feel like we all find ourselves in college by taking more risks. And def agree that grades are not everything – it’s important to balance solid grades with positive life and work experiences!

    1. Yes college/university is really when you grow into your own and finally figure out who you really are. And real life experiences are super important for sure!

  31. Such an important post! So much of the learning at university takes place outside of the actual classroom, in the relationships you form and the discoveries you make about yourself. It sounds like you really made the most of your time. Congratulations!

    1. Thank you so much and I absolutely agree- a lot of it is about your experiences!

  32. My time as an international student at university was yeeaars ago, and at the time I was a bit older than the average American student. Having worked for a few years prior to being there meant that I was a bit more mature, but even with a little life experience you’re right on about school not teaching you everything.
    My son will start that journey about two years from now. I’m looking forward to finding out how things have changed.

    1. I’m glad you agree and yes it will be interesting to compare your experiences to his when he goes to university. Thanks for comenting!

  33. Super interesting post! I also think university taught me a lot, but the years following my graduation even more! I do really regret not going to study abroad, but I guess all the “working abroad” that followed compensated for that! Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts 😊

    1. Thank you and I’m glad you got an abroad experience even though you did not study abroad!

  34. Great post as usual! When I was in University I realized how important it was to be proactive. The load really is no joke but if you pay attention and do the work as you go you’ll be fine! Now that I am out of college I realize it’s not all that important compared to what we really need to learn in real life!

    1. Thank you so much! Yes, the workload is so much more than you’re used to in high school and you definitely need to stay on top of it. Yeah a lot of what you need to know comes from life experiences rather than school.

      1. If you don’t stay on top of it then a big yikes because good luck getting any rest. Lol!!

  35. It is easier to keep up than to catch up. Words true of university and life.

    1. I absolutely agree!

  36. I couldn’t agree more that university indeed doesn’t teach you everything. Fun fact, I read doesn’t teach you anything at first, which I might believe it a bit; but just a bit 🙂

    As to the last point of your post… well, I was also always thinking that you must do what you love, but in a market-oriented world, unless you are relatively rich, sometimes, if not many times, it might be difficult to do what you like. In fact, I’m really wondering how many are these people that are really able to do what they love. The circumstances don’t allow them, in my opinion. Alienation is almost a feature in this world, no? What do you think?

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