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5 things you learn about yourself at university

29 September 2016
Developing as a person at uni

Self-reflect and learn about yourself: discover what you’re passionate about, learn how to embrace change and what your best qualities are, and how to let your self-confidence shine through.

While you'll learn a multitude of things about many topics at university, you'll also have opportunities to self-reflect. Hear our students share what they learnt about themselves and read our five most important areas of self-knowledge below.

1. What you’re passionate about

“I’ve become so much more sure of what I’m passionate about” says Simone, a veterinary medicine student. Nobody forces you to be at uni – you’re here because you want to be – so you’ll quickly learn what drives you and what doesn’t get you out of bed in the morning!

The things you might have expected to find interesting may not turn out that way, and sometimes you’ll be surprised at the areas that end up enthralling you. As engineering and law student Josh says, “I’ve learnt new things about myself and what I’m actually interested in.”

2. How to embrace change

Resilience is key to being adaptive and able to manage change. Salina, an arts student, can vouch for the benefit of embracing a change of heart. “I came to the University of Sydney thinking I wanted to be a Law student, then I wanted to be an Economics student and now I’m an Arts student,” she says. “I definitely don’t advocate indecision, but I do advocate being comfortable with changing your mind.”

When things don’t turn out the way you expected, medicine student Gratia says you have to be able to pick yourself up, and Kevin, a commerce and science student says “you have to take a few rejections before you get like the right one. Sorta like dating.”

3. That confidence comes from within

“Remember to spend time by yourself,” suggests Fei, a medicine student, “because it’s very easy to get carried away with everyone doing everything all the time.” While you've made new friends and can rely on them, be kind to yourself and remember that your self-value and confidence comes from within. Arts and education student Mariam wisely reminds you that “you’re just as worthy and you’re just as smart and you’re just as funny as anybody out there.”

4. What you like about yourself

Whether it’s during a commute or in individual study time, you’re bound to be spending some more time by yourself. You’ll soon get to know yourself like never before: Maha, studying nursing, admits that she’s still exploring herself and what she enjoys. Rather than seeing this as a hurdle, consider the opportunity as a time to grow into your own skin.

How do you know what you’re going to like about yourself? Joining clubs and societies and learning how to be independent will give you a good sense of who you are, what you can do, who you want to be, and the areas where you can improve.

5. How strong and capable you are

Being pushed into the deep end of independence at university can be a trying time, but adversity breeds success. You don’t know what you’re capable of until you’re tested, and you might surprise yourself with hidden talents and abilities.

Arts and engineering student James explains that “being unsure and being curious about everything is not the worst thing that could happen”. In fact, it could be the best thing that’s happened to you: many alumni looking back at their university days remember moments of difficulty as those that demanded the most strength – projects at the limit of their ability, demanding fieldwork, high-stress exam times – and proved the most rewarding.