1. Puzzle more things out for myself, instead of remembering the method
I used to wait for the answers to problem sheets, then attempt the questions and look at the answer when I got stuck. Often I then had to spend some time understanding the answer before going back to the question and doing it again and again and again until I could do it off the top of my head. Don’t get me wrong, this method got me very good grades and it is absolutely fine when pressed for time. I do however wish I had spent more time trying the questions myself before jumping to the result. After all, figuring things out is what physics is all about.
2. Read more physics just because I’m interested
Since finishing my degree, I have started reading a lot of things because they sound interesting and I really wish I had done that earlier. I kind of understand why I didn’t (whenever I felt like doing some physics, I did the sensible thing and got my textbooks out) but I think it really would have kept my interest of the subject higher and would have made it more enjoyable too. These days I read anything from popular science books to textbooks, via websites, papers and newspaper articles. There are so many cool things I had never heard of before!
3. Keep contact to a broader group of friends
In the beginning I somehow failed to make friends so I ended up spending a lot of time with my ex boyfriend’s group of friends. I realized quite quickly that we weren’t really in tune and unfortunately this is still true today. I never really managed to build up a group of friends I really click with, mostly because I just waited for things to happen an they didn’t. So, I would take a more proactive approach to friendship and actually seek out the kind of people I want to spend time with.
4. Step outside the university box
While my university provides a great community and offers many opportunities, I really wish I had stepped outside it more. It was just too easy to always turn in the same direction whenever I wanted to do something. There are so many other people in London and I didn’t really meet any of them until the fourth year or so. I think stepping outside my comfort zone would have helped with point 3 as well.
5. Talk about physics more
You might laugh but while I’m quite good at doing physics and writing about it, I’m really bad at talking about it. I somehow start fumbling as soon as somebody tries to have an educated conversation with me about something and I have a sneaking suspicion that this is going to cause me trouble in my future career. I think I might have less of an issue with this if I had more passionate debates over some issue or another with all the other physicists around. Somehow, it never happened.