How to Have a Successful First Week at University with Jeannie Chan | SAS Podcast 25

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Preparing for Your First Week at University with Jeannie Chan

Your first week of university can be intimidating (to say the least). Today, Jeannie talks through some of the things she did to prepare for it, and what you can expect during your first few days in university.


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On today’s episode of the Successful Architecture Student’s Podcast, I talk with Jeannie Chan from Sydney, Australia.

Jeannie is now in her 3rd week of architecture school at UNSW. I find it difficult to reminisce back to my early days of architecture school, so Jeannie, with her first week fresh in her mind, is kind enough to share those experiences with us.

From what it was like during orientation, to what classes she has for her architecture course. Jeannie also talks about how you shouldn’t be nervous, and how you can go about getting familiar with the campus and make new friends.

Not only does she explain the process of orientation in University, but Jeannie also shares some really valuable and important tips and advice for students starting University.

Thank you for spending the time to share your wisdom Jeannie!

Connect with Jeannie: IG @thearchistudent

Hey! My name’s Kyle.

From a sample of 25,000 students that applied to enter architecture school:
15.30% of them were accepted.
8.50% of them made it through to the second half of their education.
2.04% of them were awarded a degree in Architecture (post-graduate)
0.78% of them ended up working a job in architecture.

Successful Archi Student is a platform for architecture students to learn off one another to become the LESS THAN 1% of students who end up being successful in the profession.

On the podcast, you’ll hear from practicing architects, other successful students and myself, Kyle, a third year architecture student from South Australia.

Doing so, you’ll learn the tips and tricks to excel past the rest of your cohort and build the skills needed to take your work to another level.

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Episode 25 Transcript. Preparing for Your First Week at University with Jeannie Chan

Kyle 0:00
This is the successful archi students podcast episode 25.

Hey guys, and welcome to the show today I’ve got a special guest coming on with me today again, I’m gonna be talking with Jeannie from Sydney, Australia. She was originally from Hong Kong and she’s moved over to Sydney a couple of years ago. And she’s gonna be sharing some some of her experiences from a first week of architecture school. And this is going to be amazing. I’m just so pumped about this interview, because Jeannie is really really knowledgeable. She’s really knows what she’s talking about. And the fact is, she’s just come out of university. Sorry, she’s just come into university and this is something I always tried to reflect back on. You know, being in my first year again, being in my first week, and it’s hard for me to remember back to that to give you guys advice. So instead, Jeannie is going to share that advice with you because she’s just been through it. She’s in a third week now. And she really really does know what she’s talking about and she’s really ambitious as well which is surely gonna rub off on you guys like by watching this video you’re going to be more ambitious yourself and I can see that happening. Even if you’re not going into your first week of architecture school, and you’re already in your third year or fourth year, it doesn’t matter. This video is going to be super helpful for you. And I don’t want you missing out. So if you don’t have time to watch it right now, please do bookmark it and save the time to watch it.

And without further ado, without wasting your time any more. Let’s get straight into the interview . . .

I’ve got another special guest. today. I’m joined by Jeannie from Sydney, Australia. How you doing, Jeannie?

Jeannie 2:07
Thank you, Kyle. Thanks for having me. How are you?

Kyle 2:10
Yeah, I’m doing well. Thank you. That’s all right. I’m super happy you decided to join me today. So why don’t you start off by telling us a bit about yourself.

Jeannie 2:19
I’m an international student. I’m not originally from Sydney. I’m actually from Hong Kong. And I just started my first year of architecture school. And actually, today is going to be my like the start of my third week, so very early in the game. But yeah, so far, it’s been definitely challenging, a lot of work but you know, it’s, you know, it’s expected you kind of know what you’re getting into if you’re going to get into architecture, presumably. Previously, before I started architecture here, I went through like the foundation course that you NSW and it’s basically like a direct pathway from kind of like a high school. level of education into universities. So that’s kind of how I got here. Um, and yeah, so yeah, I guess outside of, you know, school in architecture, I got to Australia at the end of 2018. And kind of finished high school there decided, you know, like, I want to move countries and I want to pursue. I knew I wanted to pursue architecture in high school, and I decided to come to Australia to do that. So around what year did you decide on architecture? It was pretty much Okay, so long story short, as I progressed throughout secondary, a secondary school, it was pretty much you know, the typical like science math that kind of, like subjects and yeah, I was not going to spend my life kind of getting into careers. So pretty much I switch gears and went into design, like switch programs in terms of schooling and learning to like a kind of more Arts and Design but again, very, like generic, nothing. really specialize. But it was pretty much further on, I developed a kind of liking towards architecture and kind of building and I guess creating models because I had the opportunity to do like a little like House Renovation from my apartment in Hong Kong, which was really fun. That was a stir. Yeah, so that was kind of my first taster into kind of like the built environment. And also along the way, I was really lucky to meet some very special people also in the field that kind of influenced me and opened my mind up about the world of architecture.

Kyle 4:35
Very cool. Um, let’s try thinking back to what it’s like in my first week of architecture school again, and I tried putting myself in those shoes, I guess, to kind of remember how nervous I was and to give some advice to students going through that. Let them have like a smooth first week, and just completing your first week. It’ll be much easier I guess, for you to recall. The good and bad things that happened. Would you mind sharing with us kind of what your experience was in your first week of architecture school?

Jeannie 5:05
Yeah, absolutely. So, um, in terms of things that I feel like other architecture students should be aware of, before they get into, you know, the first couple weeks is, things move very fast, very, very fast. And you have to kind of keep your wits about you. Make sure you’re on top of everything, everything outside of your uni life is organized, especially if you’re trying to work and you know, kind of things like that, because I’m doing the same. So organization is really key. And also kind of understand that I don’t know how it is with other programs, but with us, it’s quite like you’re thrown in the deep end really, with like, our first studio project is to design stairs with SketchUp. And you have to do a lot of figuring things out for yourself outside of, you know, your uni lectures or tutorials. So in saying that the best thing are the best result. I’m speaking to some of my other friends also in the same, same degree, they the ones that do better are typically the ones that do experiment outside of, you know what’s required in the brief that unit gives you. Because they just have so much more experience, you know, working with the different programs that are so novel to us. So, yeah, making sure that you’re expanding your knowledge and teaching yourself things outside of the course. It’s so important at this stage as well.

Kyle 6:29
Yeah, I definitely agree with that. Were you nervous at all during your first week?

Jeannie 6:35
Not really, I’m not really nervous. Person unless like, I’m put on the spot about something I have no idea about. I wasn’t really nervous, but it was definitely a little bit of apprehension, because like, obviously, something you’ve never done before. So you’re kind of more alert, like kind of trying to take everything in and keeping on top of everything. But it wasn’t really nerves for me.

Kyle 6:59
Yeah, Joseph. The complete other end of that I was, I was, yeah, I was a wreck. And yeah, but really in the end, there is nothing to be nervous about, as you were saying.

Jeannie 7:11
I guess not nervous, but um, some, like some experiences I’ve had also my first week is there have been some people that has dropped out already. Yeah. So obviously there’s, you know, such a big cohort, there’s gonna be lots of different people. But I feel like, obviously, do your research and everything before we get into architecture. But once you like, kind of figure out you’re not sure about it. I think it’s so much better to drop out early instead of later. Once you if it so happens that you figure out you know, this isn’t what you want to do. It’s better to do that early. It’s just yeah.

Kyle 7:48
Yeah, I agree with that as well. So I’m in my third year now, and there are some students who have been saying they’re going to drop out since the first year, and I’ve kind of just stuck to it and you can see how miserable it’s making them and they feel like they’re gotta finish their degree because they’ve started and I’ve got to finish when I started. But yeah, you can just tell it’s not really gonna be the best option for them.

Jeannie 8:11
Like in the industry, you’re going against people, like people like you, for example, you’re obviously very passionate about what you’re doing. Oh, yeah, it’s not a good idea to stay in something just for the sake of it, because you’re not going to be competitive.

Kyle 8:26
But saying that there’s always a way to build up the passion for it. And to get to that motivation level, I guess, so that you are one of those students who are the competitive ones in the industry, I guess. So could you run us through what subjects you have? like you’d have, I guess, three or four classes, and could you tell us what they are?

Jeannie 8:46
Yeah. So right now, cuz you and I tell us a little bit different. We do trimesters. So I’m in my first trimester, and we do three courses. So that we have a studio class like Do like sort of workshop? Yeah, it’s like a it’s different from like a classroom environment. And then we have a communications course. So that’s to do with kind of learning, you know, like Photoshop and Illustrator, that kind of stuff to get your ideas that you’re coming up with it studio across, like, that’s what that class is named for. And then there’s an intro and enabling course class. So, that’s, it’s more academic, it’s like a research based course. Basically, all of us are assigned a specific house that that has been significant in the world of architecture and we do the whole tournament’s like to research that house and to later on to create renders and models of that house. So yes, it’s very different all three classes, but all of them happen simultaneously.

Kyle 9:52
Yeah, I was gonna say, do you think they all kind of come together so that when you’re working on one, what you’ve learned, and one of them’s gonna come? To complement the other ones,

Jeannie 10:01
yeah, absolutely, there’s so much um, transferable skills as you’re going, you know, through the motions through your courses. And I’m pretty sure all other things are the same. I can see from you and SW that their course, or the way that you sign up for the courses, each term is designed in a way that you take on, you know, the foundational skills on to the next project and the next one and so forth.

Kyle 10:26
Yeah, definitely. That’s the way it goes, I guess. And so how many how many times? So how many hours I guess in a week, are you required to be at uni?

Jeannie 10:36
One? Yeah, this is this is an interesting thing that I thought when I first started because with the timetable, it looks really sparse. So my uni days are on Monday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, so only three days. My Monday is my longest day because studio goes for like five hours, but it’s pretty, you know, relaxing. Everyone’s just doing their own thing. And then on Tuesday and Thursday, it’s pretty much like an average of three hours at uni. So it doesn’t look a lot. But you are expected to do the bulk of your work outside of those classes. So having said that your timetable might, you know, you might think like, oh, pretty chill, like, nothing’s gonna really get too stressful, but it does a little bit if you don’t manage your time well outside.

Kyle 11:26
Definitely. Yeah, I think that’s what gets a lot of people that like, oh, buddy got seven or eight hours at uni this week. And then you gotta get home and you’ve just got tons and tons of homework you need to do, I guess, but definitely, it’s important to manage your time and especially because you’ve got all these bigger projects towards the end of the semester. And so what you’re required to put in a certain amount of hours each week, they all build up to this final project, I guess.

Jeannie 11:50
Yeah. Yeah, that’s exactly it.

Kyle 11:54
So what are some of the things you did coming up to the semester to prepare for it if you did anything at all?

Jeannie 12:00
Um, well, pretty much. There wasn’t really much like prescribed things to do from the university to prepare, but like, I guess, to foster some of my interests in terms of architecture, because like one of my big, audacious goals in the future is to eventually, you know, get on to being licensed and, you know, start my own practice. So that’s kind of angle I’m coming from. So I have a lot of interests outside of architecture school in terms of like the business end of, you know, sort of like the like in construction or interior design, like any of those things. And the way I like to educate myself is to watch YouTube channels. There’s so many out there, there’s so many great people with so much knowledge to share. And that’s kind of how I’ve been setting up kind of my mindset for before I head into architecture school, so unique for me, that’s where I obtained you know, the nuts and The skills outside of that there’s so much that I’m not going to get here that I need to educate myself and expose myself to outside of school. So that’s, yeah. So that’s what I’ve been doing before coming into architecture.

Kyle 13:14
Yeah, I think that’s awesome that you’ve just set up some goals and using those goals to kind of push you towards achieving them, if that makes sense. And then kind of what you were saying is that you really need to learn these skills on the side have a vision of the future, it’s definitely going to help pull you towards that. I guess that’s kind of why I’m doing that successful. He soon know that to teach students those things that you won’t learn at university, but pretty much the most important things that will set you apart from other students. So did you have an orientation day?

Jeannie 13:47
We did we had a week, but in a week, it’s not exactly tailored towards you know, your specific faculty. Like, oh, sorry, I’m talking about the weekend. General is lots of fun activities just to get people meeting each other. But in terms of like degrees specific faculty specific events, they did have a big welcoming at the beginning for all the undergraduate students, which, which was really fun to hear from the dean. Yeah, so it’s like a personalized sort of welcome to everyone. And then something really good that we also have here at the university is a peer mentoring sort of group, or it’s basically students from like, the higher years they kind of, you know, take the first years under their wing and you know, you have any issues or problems in terms of workload, are you you’re not sure how to interpret a brief that kind of thing. You can always go to them for advice, which I think is really cool.

Kyle 14:44
Yeah, that’s a really good resource to have. Um, so how did you find it meeting new people? And I guess, do you have any advice for someone who doesn’t know anyone going into uni with them, and how they could meet some new friends because that’s, I feel like something a lot of people We struggle with something that scares a lot of people.

Jeannie 15:02
Yeah, that’s such a great question. Um, to be honest, I’m in the same position as well, because, as I said, I’m not from Sydney, a lot of, you know, some of the other people that have come to us who like they, they know their friends from high school. And, you know, they have kind of like that base core group of people I know, to other people in my degree, like as an A good rapport. Because I did my foundation studies with them. But you know, obviously, I’m aiming to expand that sort of network as I go along. So my sort of tips is to engage with engage with your peers like in studios, because studios are so free flowing. It’s not like a classroom where you’d be quiet listen to the teacher, you’re everyone’s collaborating, working on their own projects. You know, ask the person next to you like oh, what do you think about this? Like, do you have any, you know, like, does does this part of the model makes sense to you Kind of like me reaching out to you the other day when I was doing my project, I was really grateful to get some, you know, feedback. So just little things like that, you know, reaching out to different people seeing what they think about your work. That’s always a great way. A great place to start in terms of building relationship.

Kyle 16:17
Yeah, completely agree. And I guess I want to talk about as well I guess something else people are scared of is getting lost that can because I know it’s not. It doesn’t seem like a big thing. But it really is if you do rocking up to uni campus and you got no idea where you’re going. It can be quite intimidating, I guess. So. What was it like getting around your campus and as someone from Hong Kong as well, I guess you wouldn’t really know, Sydney all that well yet. Even though you’ve been here for a couple of years already, but did you have any troubles with getting around campus? Um,

Jeannie 16:51
well, yes. It’s a huge campus here in in Kensington, so it’s definitely cool to kind of do get acquainted with where your classes are going to be before your turn starts before your first class, that’s always a good idea. You know, you need such a big place, everyone’s really welcoming. There’s nothing wrong with you know, rocking out the weekend or two before, you know your classes start just to you know, suss out where your classes are going to be. That’s always a good idea. That’s kind of some of the classes I didn’t have issues finding because I already kind of need the capsule a bit from my foundation studies here. But, you know, there were definitely other studios, like for example, the built environment building we have here I haven’t really been to, so yeah, I definitely like showed up during a week and, you know, kind of found the classrooms for myself beforehand.

Kyle 17:44
Yeah, that’s great advice. Cuz I remember my first couple of weeks, I got super lost, I had no idea where I was going. And the way I got around that, I guess, was just by talking around until go finding a group of students who I’d seen in my orientation day and just Make the conversation and say, I have no idea where I’m going, can you help me out, and everyone’s super understanding and they all like everyone at the campus wants to help you out. So I guess that’s a good piece of advice just to ask around. And as you were saying before, just talk to people and they’ll be happy to help you.

Jeannie 18:16
I just want to add on a little bit, in terms of organizing yourself before, before the term starts. As I kind of touched on earlier, because the term starts so fast, once you get into it, the last thing you want is to be stressed out by you know, random mishaps, not knowing where you’re going, I get the most the way to be the most successful as a student at university is just to kind of mitigate all those stresses outside of you know, what you already have to do. Like, that’s just really being kind to yourself, and, you know, helping yourself along and I really encourage everyone to kind of, you know, think about ways that they could just minimize stress, like extra stress.

Kyle 18:55
Definitely. Yeah, that’s great advice. All right. So I do want to hit you up with a bit of a fire on here. So just a couple of short questions with short answers, I guess. So, do you have a favorite architect?

Jeannie 19:10
Yes, I’m really typical answer, I guess for females, but it’s gonna be saw.

Kyle 19:18
Yeah. Do you have a favorite building? Would it be

Jeannie 19:22
a favorite building? I did a lot of research and looking into the Hadar Ali and building the one with like this this like this loop. That’s a really beautiful one that I always that always comes up when someone asked me about my favorite building. Another good one is the Do you know about it’s actually the one you posted up on Instagram that really iconic one in Hong Kong. You know,

Kyle 19:54
I know what you’re talking about.

Jeannie 19:59
I knew exactly Really what that was, as soon as I saw it’s such an iconic shape on unlike the Hong Kong skyline. That was a really a really good one as well that I’ve personally been to. Yeah, so those are the two that you know comes up when you asked me that question.

Kyle 20:15
Awesome. And I guess I don’t know if you’ve read many architecture books. Otherwise, would you have I guess a favorite architecture book or maybe a favorite YouTube channel that helps you with your architecture

Jeannie 20:29
actually do promote. Okay. So for the books, there’s a there’s a guy called Eric rain. I hope I’m saying this right Eric rain hopes and, and he, you know, he kind of does this workshop called 30 by 40. Like 30 x 40. He has a really great work. He’s good on his YouTube channel. His videos super important to have super, like cinematic it’s great editing. He’s a great reason. source that I always go to. And he also has two books of volume one and Volume Two called architect entrepreneur, which I owned and I have read, and they are awesome, like, point of reference to kind of, you know, get your bearings, right again, understand the lay of the land when it comes to the architecture industry. And also, he tailors his information a bit more to those entrepreneurs out there that do want to eventually start their own thing. So, really recommend those books for you know, that particular niche of people. Your book that I have read the how to how to ace any project in architecture school, that was a resource that I used before I started, you know, I started my program, a lot of great concepts in there, you know, sharpening your pencils, that’s one that’s highlighted, the minus five plus 50 rule. That’s all that’s all. So some, some really, really good advice in there. I do implement YouTube channels. There’s a woman called Karen bond and interior designer. She’s from Vancouver. And she owns this company called the house of Bonn. Super inspirational. One of my biggest inspirations as a woman in the industry. She has a great channel, I recommend everyone to check her out. She’s super authentic, genuine, she doesn’t. She’s She’s really really warm and like a friendly person. And as a female, you know, you’re kind of programmed to think that all to make it in business or to make it you know, to be successful. You need an air of like, you know, I don’t know, I mean, you get like kind of like, kind of like a Devil Wears Prada sort of vibe, but not like that. And I find that really refreshing from her. Not to mention her work is just genuinely great and just speaks for itself. So yeah, there’s some Those are some people that I do recommend checking out.

Kyle 22:58
Yeah, that’s awesome. Heaps of great resources there. And I guess last question of the fire round is where Can someone find you if you have Instagram or something like that if someone wants to connect with you?

Jeannie 23:11
Yeah, um, the best way to find me in terms of my architecture related work is my Instagram handle is the Archie student so th e AR ch I student really good to handle Yes. Yeah, I managed to snag it like no one else. Yeah, but yes, that’s pretty much where I post my work and you know update some some things I’m doing for uni or for architecture.

Kyle 23:39
Yeah, that’s really cool. Um, so yeah, definitely go follow Jeannie if you guys are on Instagram. Awesome. Um, we are running out of time. Is there anything else you want to add before we leave those anything that you would want to share with other architecture students or a piece of advice that you have? I know I’m putting you on the spot here.

Jeannie 23:59
Yeah. No, that’s all good. Um, you know, we’ve already covered off on some really good advice in this video. But another thing that I do want to touch on that is so important is Don’t forget to develop your soft skills, especially if you want to be successful because at the end of the day architecture, you know, learning the programs and all that that’s great to have those, you know, skills in your arsenal. But really, what’s gonna, you know, push you up in your career is the ability to deal with people to deal with lots of different people, you know, in the industry, you’re often working with so many different groups, you know, you have your clients, your builders, have your project managers, so the ability to smoothly navigate between all of that is so important. So do exercise that.

Kyle 24:48
And I think that’s awesome. I think you’ve really got a great mindset and you’re definitely ambitious and I think that’s a wonderful trait to have. I just want to say a massive thank you for joining me on Monday morning. I know most people would be like, no, I got I want to sleep in on Monday morning or something like that. But now I really do appreciate you coming out and spending the time with us.

Jeannie 25:09
Thank you for having me.

Kyle 25:11
Wow, how bloody good was that guys? All I can say is thank you so much, Jeannie for being on the show you were a great guest. And if you guys have made it this far, thank you guys so much as well. You guys are a great audience. I just want to give a round of applause all round.

But no, I really appreciate you guys taking the time to watch this and Jeannie for taking the time to interview or be a part of the interview. So if you guys liked this video, please do leave a like on it because it does help share it out to other architecture students who will find this useful. And if you guys aren’t already please do subscribe because if you don’t, you’ll miss out on all the great content and interviews that we have here at successful Eastern. Also, if you guys want you can check out the show notes with the link in the description that will take you to a page where you have the transcripted version of this or the audio version of this and it will also have all the resources including the book In the YouTube channels that we talked about on today’s show, and finally, thank you guys so much. If you guys haven’t checked out my ebook already, how to ace any project in architecture school, you can do so with the link in description as well. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And thank you to Jeannie for being such a great guest and I’ll see you in the next episode of the successful archi students podcast.


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