“Be inquisitive and open-minded!”

12 Oct 2023

Helpful hints from the LMU community on how to get your studies off to a flying start

Going to university opens a new chapter in life – a chapter that will undoubtedly include fresh challenges. So, it is good to know that first-year students will meet people at LMU from whose experience they can benefit, as the following statements on “beginning your studies” clearly show.

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1:11 | 17 Oct 2023

New beginnings

Porträt von Professor Doktor Oliver Jahraus

Wants you to enjoy your studies: Vice President Oliver Jahraus. | © LMU

"Most people – myself included – don’t notice until much later on what a profound impact starting a course of academic study at university has on the course of your life, especially at LMU. Studying at this level is not just a continuation of school education: It is something new, something different. It requires responsibility and self-discipline – you are doing this for yourself, after all. But it also opens up unforeseen opportunities to grow and develop. And despite all the rules and regulations surrounding studying and examinations, it gives you huge freedoms (beginning with the choice of what you want to study).

My advice is to be mindful of this new phase of life. Be inquisitive and open-minded right from day one. Be hungry to learn and open to the world (like LMU itself). Map out your studies like an intellectual adventure. See every lecture you attend (even if it is compulsory), every essay you read, every paper you present, every project you submit as another building block in your intellectual and academic profile. Enjoy your studies!”

Professor Oliver Jahraus is Vice President for Study and Teaching. Bildunterschrift:

Make long-term plans for phases of learning and working

Prof. Sarah Hofer

Professor Sarah Hofer encourages students to also take time to enjoy life in Munich. | © Astrid Eckert

“When you are studying, my experience is that it is not always easy to strike the right balance between learning and university on the one hand and living an independent life in a large city full of opportunities and challenges on the other. I didn’t always get it right. Looking back, though, I would advise people to explicitly plan phases of learning and working at the university for the whole semester. Specify time slots and stay disciplined. But above and beyond this core, explore and try out as much as possible of this phase of life and what this city has to offer.

Education is about so much more than understanding a given subject. A healthy balance can help you keep the importance of sitting a statistics exam in proportion, for example. It guards you against tunnel vision and takes some of the pressure off learning. It lets you develop and demonstrate your potential.”

Sarah Hofer is Professor of Educational Research at LMU’s Chair of Education and Educational Psychology.

Take advantage of LMU’s international network

During her studies, Anna spent time in England and Ireland. | © Foto: privat

"I’m a master’s student now. And when I think back to the time when I first began studying, I vividly recall how tense and excited I was at the start of the semester. For first-year students, the flood of information and all the new impressions can be quite nerve-wracking. You have to keep to deadlines, gather information and pick your courses. From my experience, I can assure you that it becomes easier to stay organized with every passing semester. And there are also lots of ways to shape your studies in your own way.

I would especially encourage students who are just starting out to take advantage of everything that is on offer at LMU. Study periods abroad, language courses, sports, you name it: There are countless options to design your own varied and profitable mix of study and leisure.

I spent six months in England during my bachelor’s degree and a year in Ireland for my master’s degree. These experiences were of tremendous value to me, both academically and as a person. So, I heartily recommend making good use of LMU’s outstanding international network.”

Anna is doing a master’s degree "English Studies“.

Grades are not everything

Christian Braun advises students to see the big picture and make use of the university’s services if they have any problems. | © CB

“To succeed in your studies, it is important to stay focused on the big picture. First, that means being aware of what studying entails right from the start. Manuals of the various modules and copies of the syllabus are useful in this regard so you can see what part individual lectures play in your overall course.

Second, yes, grades are important. But don’t forget that education is more than just collecting ECTS points. Immerse yourself in your discipline, but don’t lose sight of the big picture. Actively seek to acquire knowledge above and beyond what is on your timetable. The vast diversity of subjects on offer especially at LMU makes this the ideal place to do that!

And if you ever do encounter problems, make use of the numerous support services available from bodies such as the Student Advisory Service. Learn from mistakes and don’t get discouraged. Studying successfully is not just a ticket to a good degree: It is also a journey of personal development.”

Dr. Christian Braun is an adviser at the Student Advisory Service.

Learn together and explore the libraries

Luisa Marten likes to plan study breaks in pleasant surroundings. | © Diego Muñoz

“Learning together is fun and helps you overcome any inner laziness! Studying for exams or writing term papers together with my fellow students was a real help to me. Coffee breaks and lunch breaks are then a relaxing way to take your mind off things. And if anything is unclear, it is easy to discuss the matter with each other.

Another tip: Exploring Munich’s libraries is a wonderful way to get to know the city. Their sheer size and location make the Philologicum and the Historicum the real classics, obviously, but is definitely worth going on a wider tour. Why not ascend the long staircase in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian State Library), stroll around the atriums of the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte (Central Institute of Art History), travel through time at the Deutsches Museum (German Museum) library or, after a long haul at your specialist subject library, end the day in the Chinese Tower beer garden in the English Garden? That prospect makes it so much easier to get your work done!”

Luisa Marten is a doctoral candidate and research associate at LMU’s Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology.

Make the most of the full range of courses on offer

“My advice to all new students is: Make the most of the full range of courses on offer in your subject area. There are obviously a number of compulsory courses that leave you little room for personal preferences. But when it comes to elective subjects, you can often choose between a variety of courses. You shouldn’t focus too heavily on putting together what appears to be an efficient timetable: Experience shows that things only really fall into place after the first few weeks of the semester. Instead, new students should follow their own preferences and choose those courses that genuinely interest them.

From my own experience, I know how pointless it is getting all stressed about the courses you want to sign up for even before the semester has begun. In the first week or two of lectures, there are still plenty of opportunities to pull out of certain courses and sign up for others where places are still available. Basically, you want to enjoy your studies. So, taking a calm approach and talking to students in higher years will help you get your studies off to a good start.”

Johanna Hoffmann holds a Germany Scholarship and is studying English at LMU.

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