Skip to content
Header banner full

Reflexive blog–my difficulties and gains in first semester

General speaking

This is my first semester in Newcastle, and everything is new. I could not enjoy the teaching resources provided by Newcastle during my undergraduate studies. Newcastle’s teaching methods for urban design are also very innovative, including weekly readings, new ideas learned in the 8090 courses, and the most tiring but fulfilling design class. What surprised me the most was the process of writing a blog. I never thought a professional like us would have such a form of output. After all, I always drew pictures and needed to improve my writing.

Difficulties I encountered in the first semester

People always make mistakes when it comes to unfamiliar things, and so do I. So I was still determining what I needed to do for a long time. At the beginning of the semester, I always misinterpreted the requirements of the course and produced the wrong results. Later, I decided to change, so I always discussed the content of the course with my classmates after class. I often need to improve my time management. I always misestimate the time, resulting in unfinished coursework content or finishing it just before the deadline. This behavior reduces the quality of homework, and second, it hurts your body. In the end, I’m still a beginner professionally, making mistakes along the way, but I’ve been thinking hard.

What I learned in the first semester

Before coming to Newcastle, I rarely asked the teacher questions. There has always been a grudge in my heart. But the attitude of the Newcastle teachers helped me change this mentality. Asking questions the teacher was the first good habit I acquired. Especially Dilan, when she commented on my blog for the first time, she pointed out that I don’t have an opinion of my own; it looks like copy and paste. Although I was embarrassed then, I am grateful for her directness. I began to think carefully about how to cite references to make my point. Before writing these blogs and summaries, I was not used to quoting other people’s views. Because whether it is a blog or a summary, it elaborates one’s point of view. This process is also an exercise for me to express my design ideas. In the process, I gained a clearer mind and finally knew how to explain my design, which I lacked before. At the same time, I think critical thinking is the most valuable thing I have acquired. This kind of thinking makes me no longer blindly follow other people’s ideas, even though this point of view comes from a teacher or an expert in this field. We discuss well-known professional theoretical articles in our seminars every Monday. However, I often find these theories to be very anachronistic. So later, when I read the paper, I think about the theory’s plausibility from different angles. What impressed me the most was the feeling I got from the teacher’s guidance in the design course. We exchanged teacher instructions weekly, and I found that each teacher had a different perspective on my designs. Even their views will contradict each other. This strengthens my point of view, and as a designer, the most important thing is to have confidence in your design. This is also a form of critical thinking. One of the best and worst things about design is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer.


Finally, I understand that humans still need to find what they are interested in. My output this semester is the content that I am more interested in. Although it was difficult, I persevered. I am now looking forward to my next semester experience.


Zhan Zhang

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Telephone: 0191 208 6509