Navigating Your First Year at University

The first year of university is often a time of immense change and personal growth.

While some students embrace the transition, others find it challenging to navigate this new environment.

Lesley Shetukana’s story highlights the value of prior preparation and confidence.

“I had mentally prepared for the transition,” he says.

This enabled him to quickly find his footing, achieve his academic goals and create a name for himself – all in his first year, he says.

Shetukana advises first-year students to try and balance their social and academic lives.

Nafimane Hamukoshi, a second-year political science student, says: “There is no guidance. They throw you into a new system you don’t understand.”

Looking back, she says she felt overwhelmed as there was no one she or her group could turn to for advice, as they were the first group following a the new curriculum at the University of Namibia (Unam).

“I had no expectations coming to university. I wanted to start on a blank slate,” Jonavan Sofika, a second-year law student, says about his first year.

He says he faced an identity crisis in his first year.

“I went from being top of my class in high school to getting average grades in my first year,” Sofika says.

He asked himself whether he deserved to be in law school.

Sofika, like many others, faced the challenge of adapting to self-studying, he says.

“They told us at university we had to do a lot of self-study, but they never really prepared us for this. I had lecturers read slides word for word and had to go back to my room and study everything and try to understand it,” he says.

Students like Diana Sakaria had to attend their entire first year online.

“My first year was during peak Covid-19 season and we attended most of our classes online, asked our questions online and even attended orientation online,” she says.

She took it upon herself to familiarise herself with campus in her second year of study, she says.

Peterson Nghiyoonanye, a fourth-year student and students’ representative council member for external affairs at Unam, says:

“l remember being very excited to come to Unam, knowing I had registered for a course I was very passionate about.”

He says he is grateful for his life skills teacher’s help.

“She helped us familiarise ourselves with different university departments and held career fairs for us, so we were more prepared than most for university.”

He advises students to make use of opportunities.

“Be that student who volunteers to be class representative. Remind the lecturer of class work or homework and make sure you get acquainted with your lecturers. They should know your name,” Nghiyoonanye says.

Watipa Mkandamire’s story adds another layer to the first-year experience.

International students often deal with the additional challenge of being far from home and adapting to a new culture.

When Mkandamire first came to Namibia he says he felt out of place – even among other students from his home country, Malawi.

“It took me a while to settle and find my type of people, but before that it was difficult,” he says.

The first year of university is a unique journey for every student. The key takeaway is that with perseverance and a positive attitude, even the most challenging situations can be overcome.

– Afterbreak Magazine

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News