Studying at UCU – the Difference 7 Dog Years Make

By Sofia Banzhoff

Some things get better with age: wine, cheese, and, above all, sex.  Studying at UCU is, in my opinion, one of these. I don’t mean to say that older students have more fun. I have no way of assessing this, as I can only be one age at a time. I also don’t mean that studying here gets better as UCU itself ages – I am only here at this moment, not five years ago or seven years from now.  So let’s just assume that life at UCU improves with every year we spend here.

Last year, we were like scared little dogs that had been dropped into a compound full of big dogs, not knowing who to wag our tails at and who to run from. Now, I’m one of the medium-sized dogs. I know the place – not inside-out, but well enough.

After an initial phase of wanting to do everything, most of us have decided which committees and activities are worth our time and efforts. Sure, it’s probably only twenty percent of what we signed up for during Introweek, but back then we didn’t know how precious time is at UCU.

Then there are the friendships, which actually deserve that name after a year of getting to know each other 24/7. We still meet new people, but the general weeding out of whom we want to spend time with and whom we only say hello to is done. If you’re lucky, you’re even living with your best friends and hopefully not regretting it.

We’re also a year – or seven dog years – older and wiser. Not just any year, but a year packed with experiences, mistakes we may or may not make again, things we’ve learned – in and out of the classroom. If things went as planned, we’re more mature, and our decisions are based on what we want rather than peer pressure. Plus, getting it your way is just more fun than following the crowd anyways.

Academics get better in time, too. Higher-level classes are more focused and taken by students who are genuinely interested in the topic, which tends to lead to interesting discussions and challenges to do better and try harder. Sure, being more focused on the future can be scary – thinking that you should research Master’s degrees instead of procrastinating – but we’re here because we want to move forward. Let’s hope this feeling applies to the third year as well, with the thesis looming and all that…

The main thing is probably practice: we get better at being here, at doing the work, handling the stress, finding the balance, actually taking a minute to enjoy where we are in life. Exam weeks still have us raiding the vending machines and pulling all-nighters, but we have survived them before, and we know we can do it again.

We know we’ll be just fine.

Oh, and one last thing: the new puppies, running and wagging their tails, are an unexpected but welcome source of entertainment.


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