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I read a blog post with this exact same title by the Heep. And since I also finished my first year of university a few months ago, I wanted to reflect on it as well.

The beginning

It all started one week before classes started. I decided to attend a guided tour of the campus, so that I'd be better prepared. I can't imagine where I would be right now if I didn't get out of bed that day. I found like-minded people also studying Computer Science. We explored the campus on our own and grabbed a coffee. University hadn't even started, and I had already made friends. We exchanged numbers and were well-prepared for the start.

We were a small group with roughly 10 people. Over the year, more and more joined. Our discord currently has 40 members. None of us could've ever imagined this. Having that many people around is incredibly useful when discussing exams and homework. There'll always be someone who understands a complex topic or exercise.

Here's what I love about our group:

  • Discussions are different: Normally when you are discussing something, you'd want to prove your point to the other person. In our group, it's completely different. Everyone is open-minded and accepts that they might be missing some information. A good friend mentioned this quote and I think it fits: "There are things that you know, things you don't know and things you don't know that you don't know."
  • Conversations: We can talk about everything. Doesn't matter if it's technical areas, money, relationships, mental health, fitness, or something else.
  • Growth mindset: Our group constantly tries to challenge the status quo and encourage the discussion of ideas. Being part of our group means having a growth mindset.
  • Knowledge: Since we have a lot of members, there's quite a lot of diversity. We have experts in many different fields. This makes the discussions an incredible learning experience.

Since everyone is so knowledgeable, we encourage sharing their wisdom via presentations. In the beginning it was just for our group, but we are planning to change that. A few of us got together and founded a society called 0xA. Our goal is to share knowledge via blog posts and presentations. If you are interested, feel free to join our discord:


Before university even had started, I already tried to prepare. I read books, watched videos, read articles. It was fascinating to learn about concepts like Spaced Repetition or Active Recall and to see what works for other people, but I didn't use a lot of it during the year.

I'm not going to go into detail of what we did, there's a website for that. I've linked to it if you want to find out more about a course.
Here's the list of all the courses I did in the last year:

Before university, I went to a Higher Technical College where I already learned programming. That's why I got some courses credited. This allowed me to prepone other courses that I found interesting.

I'm still amazed how much content you cover at university compared to school. Not all courses are perfect, but at least the lecturers are open for feedback. My favorite classes were Compiler Construction and Computer Graphics. I already knew the basics, but got the chance to dive deeper into the subject.

Here's what I liked most in some courses:

  • Small quizzes instead of big exam: With this system you have to study a little every week and will potentially get a better grade since you are less likely to procrastinate. I really like this system, because it's similar to the 1% rule.
  • Group exercises: This is a lot more fun (assuming your partners don't drop out after one week).
  • You'll always learn something new: I thought I already knew quite a lot about operating systems and programming, yet there's always something else that I had never heard of. You never know what you don't know. ;)
  • Projects: When you work on projects, you learn a lot more and have something to show off at the end.

Some tips from my side on the things that I would repeat:

  • Find group partners in advance: We had a few group exercises. Find your partners in advance, so that you don't have to work on the assignment/project the night before. The final submission will be much better if everyone contributed the same amount of time.
  • Find a group of like-minded people: Create a Discord and Signal group for discussions. Discuss exercises and lectures, but also have fun and go out and party.
    • Where can you find these people? You can attend introductory events or just talk to them after a lecture.
  • Experiment and take risks: I had a presentation in a seminar that consisted 80% out of memes. It worked out really well, and I learned a lot during the process. So if you want to learn a new programming language or experiment with something, why not turn it into a project? Be creative and take risks.
  • University ⊂ Life: University is a subset of your life, but it shouldn't be your entire life. Have fun and attend some parties.
  • Study exams from previous years: It'll give you an idea what the professor wants you to know. There's also a high chance that they are using one or two questions from the previous years.
  • Always do all the exercises: It's a good preparation and will save you a lot of study time later on.
  • Discuss exams with others: Whenever there's an upcoming exam, we would arrange a meeting on our Discord server to go through the exams from the previous years and discuss them as a group. Sometimes the correct answers aren't displayed, which makes this even more important.
  • Join clubs: There aren't that many clubs at my university, but I highly recommend to join them. I joined our university CTF team SIGFLAG and participated in some events. It was alot of fun.

Final words

From the 13 years of education I had before, this year has been the most life-changing. I'm grateful for the support of my friends as I've navigated this new chapter in my life. I'm looking forward to the next year as I continue to grow and learn.

Thanks for reading.