I realised that twelve years ago this week I started university, I almost passed out. How can that be? Where the heck has that time gone? It seems like only yesterday I was hung over during lectures, screaming with laughter down the Halls of Residence at 3am and doing shots of Archers on a Monday night. Oh the good old days...
I wanted the best of both worlds when it came to my uni experience. I wanted to move out and get a taste of freedom that all nineteen year old's crave, but at the same time I wanted to be close to home. Mostly because I wanted to bring my washing home, but also because I'm a home bird at heart and the idea of moving too far just never really appealed to me. So when that day finally arrived, we spent all morning loading up two cars with home comforts that would make my new cupboard of a bedroom resemble home and we drove twenty minutes up the road to Roehampton University. Seriously, it was one of those comedy sketch moments which was even more laughable when I dragged out the emotional goodbyes once unpacked, only for me to pop back home the following morning because I'd forgotten my hairdryer.
Three years and a lot of hilarious memories, countless fake-tan disasters, some questionable outfits, and a 2:1 BA in Film Studies & Drama later, I had survived university. Just about. Since then, it has taken me a long time to realise the positives of my university experience and looking back now I wonder what my thirty (one- almost) year old self would tell my nineteen (and about two stone lighter) year old self, before setting off on this life changing adventure. Hindsight is a wonderful thing...
University...The Highs & The Lows
Don't buy expensive pots and pans. They are very likely to get ruined, stolen, borrowed or used as make-shift plant pots or tennis rackets.
Invest in a good school disco outfit- you'll get a lot of use out of it!
It's probably about the only time in your life when it's acceptable to be out every night during the week. Enjoy it while it lasts because before you know it, even going out for a mid-week dinner with friends becomes an effort, disrupting your usual 10.30pm bedtime routine leaving you capished for the rest of the working week. It sucks this getting older lark...but oh how I love my sleep these days.
You can never have enough friends at university in my opinion and looking back now I wished I'd made more of an effort to extend my social circle. You will no doubt be living, studying and partying with a small group of close friends throughout your uni days, but it's important to branch out and discover who you are as a person too. University brings together an eclectic group of people from all walks of life and spreading your social circle will benefit you both academically and socially.
To work or not to work? I had two jobs whilst I was at uni, working shifts on the university switchboard during the week and travelling miles to various racecourses working for Tote Sport on the weekends. The plus side to this was of course the extra money, but the down side meant that my uni work usually took a backseat. Work if you have to, but make sure you have ample time to study. For more pros and cons of working throughout uni read this post here.
Enjoy the concoction of alcoholic beverages on offer before you realise just how calorific they really are...as good as Smirnoff Ice and larger mixed together tastes, (mmm...Turbo Shandy) you'll soon have your work cut out trying to work off that beer belly that will inevitably catch up with you at some point. Usually when you hit 25. Something to look forward to.
Applying fake tan after straight shots of Archers is never a good idea. Neither is doing shots of Archers. But I learned this lesson the hard way.
Your first year of uni does count. Discovering your module handbook as you pack up at the end of your first year is not good practice for what's to come, so it's best to get in the swing of things whilst the pressure is off slightly (she says now). Oh and while you're at it- find out where the library is before the day your first essay is due. That might come in handy at some point. Derrr...
Only borrow what you need when it comes to your student loan. Don't be fooled into thinking that because you're being offered a ridiculous amount of seemingly free cash, that its a realistic impression of what you're going to need to make it through university alive. Oh no- if you don't need it- don't borrow it. For some good tips and financial advice visit here. Oh and note to self- your student loan doesn't mean you're all of a sudden rich and it's there for purchasing several pairs of Office shoes at £60.00 each, just for them to get scuffed and ruined in Po Na Na. What was I thinking.
The aftermath of university is a funny one- one I touched on way back here. It's now time to find out who you are and what the heck you're supposed to do with your life. Unless you're Van Wilder, clubbing during the week and the long summers are over my friend and it's time to enter the real world. Oh Pants. Keep positive, know your strengths and how to improve on your weaknesses. Be open to everything and most importantly, if someone wont give you an opportunity, find ways of gaining it for yourself. If you believe in your skills and work hard, even if it's not the direction you were aiming for, you're sure to get somewhere positive in the end.
Your student loan will haunt you for a long time. Once you finally do secure yourself a job after uni (however crap this might be at first) and begin the 9-5 slog, merging in with the commuting masses, your uni days quickly become a distant memory. Then pay day rolls around and you discover that there is a generous chunk missing. Oh...that would be the good old student loan company taking back what's rightfully theirs of course! You don't know how, but they've found you and for the rest of your working life they'll happily deduct what's owed and more until your debt is cleared. Brilliant...just a head's up.
Appreciate your education. However long it might take you to realise it, your university experience will teach you so much about your strengths and your weakness and it will give you an appreciation for learning. Having access to a good education is a privilege and one that will in no doubt benefit you for the rest of your life.
It may have taken me a while to appreciate my university experience, but I now realise how much I owe to it. As well as the great memories, amazing friends and life skills, it has taught me how to write and critic constructively and the ability to work independently- skills that I rely on heavily to run this blog. Life doesn't always pan out the way you want it to, but whatever you end up doing, ensure that it makes you happy.
What were your highs or lows of university? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time,
With Love & Uni Hindsight,