WHAT I LEARNT FROM MY FIRST SEMESTER AT UNIVERSITY…

The story of how I got to the uni I’m at now is one that makes my mum cringe with anxiety. Of course I went through the motions and applied for 5 universities on UCAS… only to realise in may/June that actually I didn’t want to go to any of them. I found the University I’m at now online and was filled with regrets because it looked perfect for me, it was small and friendly, it wasn’t too far from home, yet not too close to home. UCAS extra came through with the option to decline all of my other 5 offers and apply for this university, which was a gamble my mum didn’t really want me to take, and I got an unconditional offer then and there- personally, I took it as a sign.

As I live within 10 miles of the University I wasn’t supposed to receive accommodation, however, I had this feeling I would. While my mum fretted about me applying to a university I hadn’t visited, and now the possibility of me having to commute in she was worried about my decision.

God fully came through for me. Not only does this University feel right to me, but I got an unconditional offer AND the accommodation of my choice. Safe to say I’m a very lucky girl and I put it all down to God, I truly believe He lead me here.

After 13 weeks, one semester, at university I’m looking back and I have enjoyed every moment of it! But it is such a huge change from before.. so here we go, here’s what I’ve learnt…

1.Everyone is really friendly –

As you drive in to your new home it all seems so big and scary, you realise you don’t know your way around, that you don’t know where you’re going and the most scary being you don’t know anyone. The minute I got in the people I came across welcoming at the gate, in the registration area and giving out keys for halls were all so friendly and helpful! After the painful goodbye I shared with my mum and Granny I spent time with my new flatmates – who I’m incredibly close to now- and we hit it off immediately, we all can admit to each other now that we hated our first few days, filled with homesickness, but the very fact that we spent so much time together in those days helped us through that. Nobody really gets left out, because everyone is in the same position.

2.Budgeting –

After those long 3 months I had my ups and downs with finances. Reflecting on it, the semester certainly taught me that I need to develop a better budget plan and actually stick to it this time. Because the last 2 weeks of the semester I was living off £10… so that’s £5 a week. There was one point where I only had £2! And believe me it’s not worth the stress. I’ve also spent my time looking for a job for the approaching semester and I’ve found one!

3.Independent living is so fun-

Living in halls has been an amazing experience for me! It’s so fun! Being able to decide what you want to eat, what you want to do, where you want to go and when you want to do it. Of course I have my days when I miss home, but I know I can always go back and visit them. Being able to have that agency around my own life is great because it feels like a step towards adulthood.

4.The people from home are still alive-

Not really a lesson, but more of a realisation. People from home, friends and family, are still around ! Contact them whenever possible! Just because you’re at uni and you’ve made some new friends, doesn’t mean your friends from home have disappeared. They miss you just as much as you miss them, and it’s all good to let them know! You go from seeing people everyday to seeing them three holidays a year. Of course focus on your new friendships! But don’t forget about the people at home.

5.Food from the ref is shit. – chances are my uni is one of the only uni’s with shitty food in the refectory/canteen/dining hall. But I’ve learnt.. some days it’s better to get my own microwave meal as opposed to walking all the way down there only to return with my 6th jacket potato of the week. DON’T TAKE YOUR MUMS HOME MADE SHEPHERDS PIE FOR GRANTED. YOU’LL MISS IT SO MUCH.

6.Learning is fun –

when you chose a subject you’re genuinely interested learning is a breeze. Maybe that’s just my inner nerd coming out here, but either way, I’ve had so much fun on my course.

7.A levels and GCSE’s don’t mean a thing anymore –

in my first week, I listened to my lecturers trashing the teaching and testing methods of a levels and GCSE’s, where they fed us the needed information.. and then expected us to regurgitate it out onto the booklet perfectly. Then finding after the exam that actually you learnt nothing, but simply stuffed your memory with information, only for it to be forgotten after the exam. They’re so pointless they’re simply a stepping stone into the next educational step.

8.We shouldn’t compete with anyone but ourselves, to better ourselves –

and remember that actually failure is okay sometimes, it’s another way to help us learn and do better (than ourselves) next time. We should be proud of everyone else’s achievements and aspire to do our very best and achieve our own very best.

9.You don’t neeeeeed another drink, but so long as you’re not feeling sick… why not –

uni is about having fun, and if you haven’t already… discovering your limits!

10.Nobody cares how you look –

I was under the impression that I would be going to all my lectures and seminars looking nice and feeling fresh… LITTLE DID I KNOW.. ha. My class is lucky if I don’t turn up in my pyjamas, I’ve almost forgotten how to use make up and no matter how clean my hair is it’s always up. And if I’m honest I love that I feel so comfortable embracing my inner hermit!

11. Your uni friends become your family –

Especially if you’re living in halls, these are the people you go through everything with, the homesickness, possible heartbreaks, arguments, hilarious events all of it. From the start of your very first day until at least your last day of first year. I hate to break it to my flatmates like this but you’re never losing me- you’re stuck with me now.

Although I have exams in the approaching weeks, I’m looking forward to returning, starting some new modules and seeing where semester two will take me!

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