Leaving my home to begin my education at IE University was one of the scariest yet most exhilarating moments of my entire life. I will never forget the moment I said goodbye to my parents in the airport, knowing that a future of uncertainty lay before me. If you happen to be experiencing similar feelings as the upcoming school year rapidly approaches, I have pieced together a few tips to facilitate and smoothen your transition to university life.
I was coming to the end of the final semester of my senior year of high school in the spring of 2020—just as the pandemic began. Though the university acceptance process looks vastly different across the globe, it's common for seniors in Canada and the United States to take up their university offers in the spring before they're supposed to leave for college. As spring break approached, I had every intention of visiting Spain to participate in the IEU Experience before solidifying my commitment to one of the colleges that had accepted me. Seeing as I had never been to Segovia or Madrid, I was eager to attend the event as a means of familiarizing myself with Spanish and IE University culture before deciding to move myself across the ocean, thousands of miles from my friends and family.
That said, by March 13th, I, like so many people across the globe, found myself in lockdown, with no certainty as to when I would be able to leave my house, let alone fly to another country. It was at this moment that I was faced with a life-changing decision. I could either take the ?safe route? and commit to a school that I was familiar within the United States, or follow my heart and accept the offer from IE University, without having even seen it with my own eyes. I went with the latter.
My experience, however, is no longer unique. As the pandemic has continued to create barriers to travel and more, the class of 2021 and other individuals seeking to start university this fall have, in many cases, been forced to commit blindly to schools across the globe. If you have found yourself in this predicament, know that you're not alone, and as someone who has walked the walk, I have a few words of advice to offer before you head to IE University this fall.
1. Ask questions and reach out
The IE University community is incredibly supportive. From staff to current students, everyone is passionate about this school and facilitating a smooth transition for incoming first-year students. We understand the stress that comes with starting university and moving as far as an ocean or two away from home. With that in mind, I highly recommend that in order to relieve stress, you ask questions and talk to people from IE University.
In the months prior to coming to Spain, I visited the official IE University Instagram account (@ieuniversity) and found current students from tagged posts on the account feed. From there, I would DM a small handful of them with various questions that I had, down to the most random of concerns, such as the food options that are available near Plaza Mayor in Segovia. I found that nine times out of ten I would be met with a kind and informative response from anyone that I sent a message to—and I made friends while I was at it! The admissions team also has your back. They know IE University, both in Madrid and Segovia, like the back of their hands and are eager to talk to you and answer any questions that you might have.
Never feel like you're a nuisance—the IE University community has got you.
2. Embrace the change for what it is
This seems somewhat obvious but it's so true! The transition to university means experiencing a lot of change in a short space of time. I won't lie, it's a difficult feat. That said, it truly is what you make of it. Your first year of university is arguably one of the most transformative experiences that you will ever face in your life.
New faces, new subjects, new surroundings, and more! This is a chance to truly discover who you want to be in life. It's a time to discover new passions, make mistakes, and experience changes. Take each day as an opportunity to learn about yourself and the world around you. At IE University, no matter who you are or who you wish to be, I assure you that you'll find your place and feel at home. This process simply takes time. At the end of the day, if you choose to tackle this momentous change head-on, you'll certainly blossom in no time at all. We have all done it, and I know that you will too.
3. Get involved in IE campus life and extracurricular activities
If you have ever met me, I'm sure you're rolling your eyes reading this because it's something I say all the time?and for good reason! IE University offers over 150 different clubs and activities to get involved with across the Madrid and Segovia campuses. Not to mention the never-ending seminars, activities, educational events, and more organized by IE University through the Campus Groups webpage. Simply put, there is some form of activity or club that resonates with every student.
By getting involved in campus life, you are not only faced with more educational opportunities, but you also get to meet people from different degree programs and years of study as well. It's a great way to develop your passions (and your CV!), all the while making some great memories and friends along the way. What's there to dislike?
4. Get well acquainted with your organizational skills
Use the first semester of your first year as a chance to develop your organizational and time-management skills. Both the Segovia and Madrid campuses have numerous activities to fill up your free time, but it's also important not to forget that you're here at IE University to study. The quicker you develop a healthy balance of both work and play, the sooner you'll truly begin to reap the benefits of what university life has to offer. Don't worry—as I said earlier, university is also all about making mistakes. I still get caught up when it comes to study obligations vs. personal life. All that matters is that you actively work to find and establish study habits that work for you.
The way that classes and homework work in college is vastly different from high school. That's why it's important to use that first semester as a trial-and-error period to learn more about what the next few years of your life are going to look like. If need be, professors, peers, and other tools offered through IE University can provide support and suggestions on how to enrich your education. Again, we're all here to help you succeed!
5. Expect a new way of learning
Last but certainly not least, during your first year here at IE University, things are going to look a bit different. As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a variety of challenges in regard to education across the globe. It is for this reason that IE has created a new learning module, known as Liquid Learning.
Liquid Learning allows students to attend class both in person and virtually depending on their current situation amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Students living near campus have the option to attend in-person classes, while those who haven't made it to IE for one reason or another can join a live-class Zoom call instead. Every classroom on campus is equipped with high-quality microphones and cameras, which allows for the effective integration of students both at home and in person. It also mandates that all students and faculty fill out a health passport each and every day to ensure that anyone who enters the IE University campus is healthy, and has been acting safely within their personal lives as well. With these measures in place, you will be certain that you are coming to class in a safe atmosphere, and can live with peace of mind that you are working to be a part of the solution during this pandemic, opposed to contributing to a problem.
Though this new model might seem uncomfortable at first, I implore you to utilize my second point and embrace this change for what it is. In no time, this new learning method will become second nature to you, and you'll truly grow to love it for the flexibility and safety that it provides.
On behalf of everyone here at IE University, congratulations on this very exciting next step. Enjoy the nerves and the excitement of it all. Even if the pandemic prevented you from visiting IE University in person, have faith in the fact that you made a great decision with regards to the future of your education. These next few years are sure to be the best of your entire life, and by considering the above suggestions, I assure you that you'll be destined for success.
I'm rooting for you, and if you happen to find yourself on the Segovia campus this fall of 2021, be sure to say hi!
By Donovan Schar, IE University student
Check out Liquid Learning at IE University