No one ever said 1A was going to be easy. Maybe you are from France or maybe you flew over international waters to get here. Regardless of where you are from, the first year will be a struggle – at least, it was for us.
The transition from high school to university is not only academically challenging, but also marks a milestone in your life. You will learn more about how to survive on your own, and Sciences Po’s rigorous curriculum does not make the transition any easier. Although our campus and this city may feel small, this also allows us to build a stronger community. Who cares if we are in different friend-groups, triplettes, or years? No one understands your experience better than those you see every day at school. So, here are a few tips from your 2A friends.
- Take care of your mental health. “Go to talk to professionals, go to the Mental Health Committee [events], do hobbies, see friends. Do not stay alone with your worries,” says one 2A. Another advises, “si tu sens que t’es au fond de la piscine, rappelle-toi qu’il suffit de taper du pied pour remonter à la surface.” In other words, if you feel like you are at the bottom of the pool, remind yourself that you need to push off the bottom to reach the surface. On the whole 2As agree that the second semester will be a lot better in terms of your grades, social life and mental health. Do not let the first semester get you down.
- Do not compare yourself to others. As one 2A says, “don’t follow people, follow passion…Take initiatives and don’t be afraid of other people’s judgment.”
- Remember you are never alone. “There is always someone who has been through what you’re going through, or feels the way you feel. And everyone can empathize with and understand your situation. So reach out, and you’ll never be disappointed.”
- Pace yourself. As one 2A explains, “I used to run around crazily thinking I’d never have time to do or finish anything correctly, but that’s merely an illusion. Life is long, man. Use [the calendar app] iCal a lot, and schedule recurring slots of time where you work…don’t feel guilty about making laundry, cooking dinner or watching a series episode – breathe, you probably need those little activities to be done anyways, it’s not wasted time.”
- Be open to everything and everyone. A 2A explains, “you don’t realize it now, but your time here in Reims… is going to go by so fast. So really, really make a conscious effort to make the most of it.” Another 2A agrees, “invite people you have brief encounters with for dinner. It’s a great way to make new friends.”
- Do your readings. One 2A explains that the readings are especially important for those who are not native in English. Keeping up with the readings makes things easier down the road. One 2A says, “…honestly, in triplette seminars, you can pretty much always get away with not doing them, but don’t let that make you think they’re not useful. In your Finals, those references are ALL teachers are going to be looking for.”
- Schedule your presentations for the beginning of the year. One 2A explains, “do your presentations in the beginning of the semester if you can because by the end you might feel burnt out.”
- Spend more time studying subjects that interest you. “You can’t absorb it all, so pick what you want to remember 10 years from now. Sciences Po pressures you to know a little about everything, which is a good base but you’ll rapidly end up ‘skim reading’ every piece of knowledge that’s presented you – set some stuff aside and concentrate on one thing.”
On Social Life
- Make the most out of your first year. 2As seem to agree that you should stress less about school, since missing out on social events in 1A is a big shame. There are definitely some stressful times at Sciences Po, but as one student explains “…those aren’t the moments you’ll remember 20 years from now. The moments you’ll keep are the friends you make, the places you’ll see, the crazy dead-of-night adventures, the time you fell in love and those late-night deep talks. School is necessary but your well-being and friendships are equally, if not more, important. People won’t remember what you said or what you did, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.”
- Be there for your friends. One 2A says, “getting dinner with one of them might not seem like much effort to you, but it could make their rough week so much better.”
- Join an association. It will allow you to meet new people and they might even become your second family.
- Talk to us (2As) if you have any issues, we do not bite!