University Life

If you’re thinking of going to University and do not have a clue what to expect, then keep reading! I feel as though I have been through it all over the past two years that I’ve been at University – the ups and downs, the indecisiveness of not knowing which path I want to take, going out, getting drunk and forgetting my own name, fall-outs, friendships, everything! I’m here to give you the best advice I can to try and prepare you.
I understand the difficulty and pressure that we are all made to feel when deciding what we want to do with our lives. Especially in high school, it’s completely impossible to know which subjects you should take in order to help you build your future career. Quite often, we’re told by our teachers how much the subjects we study for GCSE’s will impact the job we want to have, but this isn’t entirely true. Let’s just say, I’ve never once been asked about my Art or Spanish GCSE so far in my educational journey.
MY EXPERIENCE
When studying A-levels for two years, I thought I had literally failed. I really struggled with handling the transition from GCSE’s at high school to the full-on, difficult and stressful studying of balancing 4 A-levels all at once. With the thought of failure already embedded into my head, I had to start thinking of a back-up plan of what I could do once I didn’t get into University. But luckily, and very surprisingly, when results day came, I had passed all of my exams and gotten offers from all of my University choices! I couldn’t believe it!
I had decided to do English because I enjoyed the subject and it was something that I knew I was good at. I also didn’t have a clue what I actually wanted to do so I picked this subject as an easy way through University.
THE REALITY
As the months went by of my first year at university, I became miserable. I hated my course and I wasn’t enjoying the university experience. I’d made good friends and I was having fun in that aspect, but when it came to the academic side I absolutely hated it. I have to admit, I gave up. I stopped going to my lectures, I stopped doing my work, I stopped submitting assignments and I didn’t even turn up for presentations or exams. I absolutely hated it. I was 18 years old, and halfway through my first year of university and I was completely stuck about what to do and all I could think of was to quit.
I was so lucky to have my parents to speak too about what to do. They told me how important University is for my future, and they were not bothered about what I did as long as I was happy. I ended up staying at the same University but changing my course and it was the best decision I have ever made. I wasn’t ready to give up education completely and I knew deep down how beneficial having a degree really is for my future career, whatever that may be.
A MESSAGE FOR YOU
The first message that I wanted to get across was that even if unfortunately, for whatever reason, you do not have a support system behind you to help you decide the best options for yourself, it’s completely normal for you to not know what career you would like and you are most certainly not the only one. Some people go through their entire lives not knowing what they would love to do, and get to 50 years old and decide to have a career change. Do not let the pressures of high school force you into studying for subjects that you feel will change your future because the reality is – they don’t! Whether you decide to study A-levels, a BTEC, or take another route and do an apprenticeship, start your own business, the choice is yours, and more importantly, the choices are endless. When it comes to university, if like me you start a course which turns out to not be everything you thought it was going to be, you have the ability to change your mind and whichever university you are at should guide you through this process and make you feel at ease. It’s never too late to change your mind! The best advice I can give is please do not ever continue through University if you’re unhappy with your studies. From my own experience, it will affect everything!
EMBRACING UNI LIFE
Once you have decided what you would like to do and are sticking at a course for the duration of it, you need to embrace University life! One of the biggest regrets I had in my first two years was that I did not put myself in the middle of University life. I should have joined societies for anything I was interested in, in order to meet new people and learn new things, and also to keep my week busy. It’s easy for things to get on top of you at University, especially if you’re living far away from home and can get homesick, so socialising and doing different activities is the best way to take your mind off anything you may be struggling with and keeping yourself extra busy but focused. I’ve put together a list of general (but random) tips that I think everyone should know;
TIP 1: SLEEP IS IMPORTANT – when you’ve got deadlines up to your eyeballs, you’ve been partying every night and surviving off pot noodles, sleep is the only thing you need. Always give yourself enough sleep, and try your best to stick to a routine.
TIP 2: DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON EXPENSIVE ALCOHOL – at every single pre drinks I survived on the cheapest wine from my local supermarket, mixed with lemonade and it did the job of getting me happy drunk every time and I always had the best nights. Although student prices in clubs are a dream, don’t waste your money on buying drinks in a club which will probably get knocked out of your hands anyway.
TIP 3: APPRECIATE LIVING IN STUDENT HALLS (IF THIS APPLIES TO YOU) – the transition from living in university halls on campus to a student house was a difficult one. So make the most of every mom
ent in halls! Everything is done for you, whenever there’s a problem, for example, your lightbulb has broken, or your TV won’t turn on, there is always someone on campus to help fix it for you. Make the most of this, because moving into a shared house and having to deal with bills and greedy landlords is very stressful. Living together with a group of people you hardly know has to be a team effort. Work together to keep things clean, tidy, and enjoyable for everyone. Halls was the best experience of my life!
TIP 4: MAKE AS MANY FRIENDS AS POSSIBLE – like I’ve mentioned earlier, it’s important to socialise with as many people as you can and try to be involved in as little drama as possible. But remember, not all of the people you meet will be your friends for life. Form a small but trustworthy circle, and enjoy every minute with them because you will remember your entire university experience with them being a part of it.
TIP 5: MAKE THE MOST OF STUDENT BENEFITS – there have been so many things that I realised I missed out on as a student. Most of them being money off deals with my student card – including money off or free pizza! So do your research and every time you go shopping, make sure you check whether you can use your student discount or not. Don’t miss out! Every penny counts. Similarly, in freshers week sign up for as many student perks as you can, and make sure you take home all the free pens you’re offered – you’ll need them!
TIP 6: MANAGE YOUR MONEY – this is so important. I know it’s the last thing you’ll be thinking about when you’re buying 10 jägerbombs for all your friends, but it helps so much. Figure out how much you need to pay for rent, food and general living and then how much you’ll have left over each week or each month whether that be from your student loan or a part time job. It’s a life saver – then you’ll know how much you can spend on going out and having fun!
TIP 7: STAY SAFE – even when you have Dutch courage inside of you and think you’re invincible when walking back from the nightclub at 4am – you’re not. Never walk back alone, manage your alcohol and make sure that you stick with your friends. The amount of accidents involving students is immense and scary, so make sure you are always safe. You can always have fun without putting yourself in danger.
TIP 8: APPRECIATE EVERYTHING – the people you meet, the environments, the student perks, will all be missed as soon as you graduate. Appreciate everything and everyone you meet. University will be the best experience of your life as long as you make it that way yourself. Enjoy every moment!

 

If you’re getting ready to go to University and are feeling nervous or apprehensive, just know that there are a million other students all over the world who will be feeling the exact same way as you are. Everyone is in the same boat, and this thought should put you at ease.
I hope University is everything you hope and that you all achieve everything you’re capable of – it really is the greatest few years of your life. Enjoy!

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