First days of uni from the eyes of a professor

If I had to choose my favourite moments in my life as an instructor at the University of New York in Prague, then without doubt I would choose graduation day and the first day of freshman classes.

Graduations are obviously a moment of joy and accomplishment, and a celebration of the hard work that students have put in, which has allowed them to proudly march up to receive their diplomas. It is a very beautiful moment of celebration with friends and family, and as academics, we are very proud to share in it.

While graduation is the culmination of university life, the other great moment is its beginning. We are currently receiving the new intake of UNYP students. Most of them are very young, and all of them are full of dreams and eager to start this new stage – a stage that will be very important in their future lives. You can see all that in their faces and eyes when you enter the classroom on the first day. At the same time, you can see that many of them are also anxious, and afraid of making mistakes in front of the teachers.

I like these first moments with the new students because it brings back the memories of my own university days. I guess that time makes those memories sweeter. It was a long time ago and I was very young, and I remember that I was very nervous on that first day of classes, not knowing where the room was or what the instructor expected from us the first day. Of course, my alma mater, the University of the Basque Country, was very different from UNYP. The University of the Basque Country was a large university where the classes had more than 100 students (oddly enough, there were not enough chairs for the students, so you have to arrive early if you wanted to be sure to get a seat). It was a very strange feeling sitting among so many students and listening to an instructor who sounded rather scary. But I was also very excited to learn so many new interesting things. Today I wonder how that instructor felt, and if he felt then what I feel today when I see our students. Probably yes.

One of the greatest things about UNYP is that we have the opportunity to get to know each of our students, and to provide them with individualised support.

But one thing is different for sure at UNYP. It was very difficult for my university instructors to see us as individuals, and to help us with our different needs. Not all students learn in the same way and need the same type of support. One of the greatest things about UNYP is that we have the opportunity to get to know each of our students, and to provide them with individualised support. It is very important that students come to us to get this help when it is needed, and we are very happy to provide it. And hopefully, in four years’ time they too will be marching proudly to receive their diplomas. But that will be at the other end of the long journey that is just beginning...

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