Last year, when I was asked to join the student union board, I had no idea what it would mean in practice. My knowledge of the student union was pretty much non-existent. I felt that my studies and other activities were taking enough of my time already. But in the end – as the song goes – a little persuasion and my curiosity got the better of me.
Over these three months I have been surprised by how blissfully ignorant I had previously been about the world surrounding students. The cuts and reformations in the higher education had gone completely unnoticed, but now I am talking about them on every day basis. Also I’vee been surprised be how quickly I’ve been able to grasp my new responsibilities. The most surprising thing is, however, the fact that the studies do not have to be prolonged when you become student active, contrary to a common belief.
This year is riddled with new cuts and reformations on higher education, including cuts to student allowance and the new tuition fee for foreign students outside of EEA. One could say that I’ve plunged straight to the deep end when I got the responsibilities of educational policies and international affairs. In less than three months we have written several statements and it seems that they are not coming to an end before the end of the year.
I’ve had also a lot to learn during this early year. Most of these skills can be applied even to work life! Communication and time management skills come first to my mind – both of which should in my opinion belong to every university students studies. Especially proper time management can save one from a lot of stress as well with studies and free-time. It is easy to forget that it is as important to have enough free time as it is to do your homework and whatnot.
Sometimes even the best time management plans may fail and that’s when coffee steps in. I haven’t done any exact calculations but approximately I have drank already more coffee at the office in three months than I drank last year. When working at the student union office after an already long day with schoolwork a dozen cups of coffee is simply a necessity. That and an excellent work community helps one last through the days.
Most of all I find myself thinking how to give even more to our community and the students. The silent days when there are no lectures, no statements to give, no meetings and not even a blog text to write feel just plain wrong. Some think it’s just because of the new way to organize ones time. I say it is because the work in supervision of interests of students is never ending. There are always some things that can be made better especially during these times of cuts.
What I must say, is that I couldn’t have been able to handle these three months on my own. The way the orientation of new officials at TUO is done has a huge impact on these successful three months. Thank to the orientation even a rookie like me has been able to grasp new responsibilities really quickly and even sometimes do things successfully! Also I cannot underline enough that in our student union one awlways gets help when needed. I’ve always had someone there to help me with the tasks.