“Let’s just say the exam mean was 33.7/100 and the high was 82.”
Prior to the start of second year – I, like any other prospective Part 2 Civil student – braced myself for a five-paper semester (if this is the first post you’re reading from me, I actually am taking six papers in my case as a conjoint student with my other major a language. And before you ask, no, I don’t know why I do this to myself or how I’ve survived thus far). This mental preparation involved reading a bunch of course reviews from students, with the above quote taken from last year’s review of CIVIL 210. So, needless to say I was already stressed before the first semester even started.
In retrospect however, sitting here writing weeks into the first semester, it really isn’t as bad as I had made it out to be. Well – the stress, yes, but it isn’t as bad in the sense that the five papers are of equal importance and a majority of the teaching staff in the courses won’t throw you off the deep end and expect you to swim as some of the reviews have made it out to be.
Civil has five papers per semester and therefore a hefty workload not to discourage students from pursuing the specialisation, but to offer a taste of the wide range of sub-disciplines that Civil has to offer. And many of these sub-disciplines are those one might not have even heard or thought of, since civil is usually associated with structures.
I myself was one of those people who associated Civil with structures – and as a result found myself pleasantly surprised as the first few weeks went by because there is a lot of areas under Civil which all interlink and depend on one another. Take building structures for example. The process involves designing methods to transfer load safely, but also there are site investigations that need to be conducted in order to determine where exactly the building will be located, and the behaviour of the soil the building will be built on that needs to be considered.
These links between different areas of civil engineering begin to slowly form as the semester goes by, aided by the fact that the lecturers constantly talk about the “big picture ideas” – why is the content being covered important, how will it apply in real life – and you really somewhat grow to appreciate the material you’re learning. (Is that being too optimistic and idealistic of me? Maybe 😅)
That isn’t to say however, that doing five papers is all rainbows and butterflies. Once the semester starts, you have to really hit the ground running and keep up with the work.
With all of this in mind, the question is then – why civil? Why go through the struggle of five engineering papers a semester? For me, Civil was really the only option. There’s no other engineering specialisation through which I am able to explore my interest for structures at a deeper depth – I’ve been wanting to do something infrastructure-related since I was fourteen – and combine this with my passion for sustainability. The reasons for choosing Civil are different for everyone – it certainly doesn’t have to be something you’ve decided years before like I have. At the end of the day, the Civil cohort are all on the same boat and learning how to navigate and thrive in University together (creating memes and bonding over difficulties guaranteed).
Until next time! 💬