Your Guide to University Success | GRAD - page 25

You have learnt
and changed – your
family has remained
the same
You are really looking forward to the first visit
home. Thinking of your family and community
back home has sustained you through the first
semester. Making them proud remains a major
motivating factor. Beware – the reunion can be
fraught with danger.
Going away to university is about change.
You never realised how much you were going to
change. You have been exposed to a new world,
new people, new situations. At first you were
shocked. You judged and condemned. Then you
started questioning your own knowledge and
moral framework. You felt lost. Who are you?
Slowly, painfully, a new you began to emerge.
As one student wrote after overcoming his first
This success meant a lot of sacrifices, which were
not so pleasant. I had to develop a new study
technique and adjust to it, add more hours of
study, exercise to keep fit and refreshed, as well
as refrain from having much of a social life,
which was far from easy. These basically changed
my lifestyle and adapting to such a transforma-
tion was not child’s play, there were temptations
along the way but I overcame them. It was not a
smooth ride!
Another student wrote the following looking
back on his first year:
I remember in first year when I was still vigilant
and alert to everything new in my life. I was in a
small group tutorial with one of the best people I
have met at university, my first-year mentor. One
of the most vivid moments of the whole experi-
ence is the time he told us that university is, more
than anything, a prolonged self-defining period in
an individual’s life. He carried on to explain that
the university years will determine who an
individual is and that if one leaves university
without having learnt who they are, chances
are that they will struggle even further. I have
been through multiple life-changing situations
throughout my three years at the university but
none of them have been as fruitful in experience
and growth as this year.
Change and growth are painful but they are
valuable. Exposure to knowledge and the widen-
ing of horizons that results is what education is
all about. There is just one snag: the people at
home have not gone through the same process.
They have remained pretty much the same. They
might even be somewhat threatened by the new
you. Here are some tips for dealing with this
Expect the homecoming to be difficult – it
may be a challenge to your still fragile new
Understand why both you and the people
who stayed behind experience such intense
emotions about the differences and distances
that have entered your relationship – it is all
about status and autonomy, the S and A in
(see p.17).
Tell yourself that respect is about seeing
people in their own unique light.
Respect those who stayed behind by relating
your adventures in an entertaining, non-
threatening way.
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