Sunday, 13 May 2018

WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM MY FIRST TWO YEARS AT UNI

Hey hey hey!

I actually wrote most of this blog post this time last year, just after I'd finished first year (how have I just finished second year?!) but for some reason or other I didn't actually publish it. But now's the time, I've experienced more and I've made some edits to this with newer knowledge and an update for the things that have not changed based on second year.

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I spent so many hours obsessing over university based blog posts summer '16 that I felt infinitely prepared to make the big move. I found out the do's, the don't's, what to buy, what not to buy and all the jazz that comes with independent living with a flat full of strangers.

It's only right that I share my firsthand experience knowledge with y'all now isn't it?

Warning; it's not as happy go lucky as you may think, but it's honest.


EXPECTATIONS VS REALITY

LEAVING HOME


For many years of my life I longed to move away from my hometown where I felt lost, trapped and very lonely. Southport is a fair sized town that has sadly been lost to countless nursing homes and more charity shops than even I can cope with. However, do y'know what I didn't count on when I left? Missing that little town.

For the most part, leaving was a lot easier than anticipated, I only cried the day my mum left and the odd FaceTime calls, but I adjusted to life so quickly that it suddenly felt like I'd always lived here. That's a perk of choosing a city I knew like the back of my hand.

I was convinced that I would make tonnes of friends, gain all the confidence that I'd been lacking (since birth probably), become a typical student drinker and be the happiest me I'd ever known.

The adjectives I'm searching for right now are; naive & hopeful.

Do not expect your life to instantly change. That's something you have to do on your own. 

I can admit - albeit it's still difficult and scary - I'm most likely to be the more lonely type who drifts in and out of friendships and relationships, that's just my personality and no matter what anyone says or tells you, you can't just flick a switch and be done feeling that way. I wish.

However, you may very well find some of that lost confidence, if you're like me and decide that enough is enough and you ain't taking no shit, then you're definitely getting there. That's something positive I can definitely take from this year.

Don't get me wrong - I love living in Cardiff, I love my uni course and I honestly think that city life is definitely for me - but sometimes I still wonder if I made the right decision. The problem is, I pinned too much hope on leaving home, and to be honest, I feel a little disheartened and foolish because I expected too much change. 

I've found living on my own and fending for myself to be such a great experience and I love having free reign over everything I do, I feel like an adult more than ever and it's a feeling I relish in. Until I have to move into my own place one day and pay real bills, then I'll cry and wish to be a child again. I feel it coming.

UNIVERSITY LIFE

WORKING


The upside to working full time for a couple of years prior to starting uni is I have a little bit of savings that allowed me to not have to work alongside my studies. Yay! I'll be honest, part of me feels like I've missed out by not trying to balance a working and studying life, I've not made more friends that I potentially would have from being in the working environment and I've not had a bit of extra cash to treat myself more often. However, I have had my weekends free to focus on my uni work and I've had the opportunity to give 110% to my studies. But trust me when I say this from my friends experiences, working doesn't mean you have to push your uni life to the side a little and let it suffer, it is possible to succeed in both.

But personally for me, my one horrendous shift at Wetherspoons on that fateful 2016 Black Friday, was enough to put me off for a while.

If you're like me and you'd prefer to put every ounce of energy and time into your university work, think about full time work during the summer, or at least part time, so you can start to build up some savings for the next term.

I've been able to subsidise myself not from my initial savings from my couple of 'gap years', but because I'm pretty nifty with my cash. I worked for a few weeks last summer which have me a great start to my savings for the next semester, I sell all my unwanted things off on eBay, Shpock and Facebook selling sites which pay for new clothes, shoes, accessories etc, I've built up loyalty cards and points for Superdrug and Boots to pay for make-up, for birthdays and Christmas I ask for money so I can save it and enjoy myself during the school year and overall I don't eat out every other day, I don't go out four nights a week and I do a big shop every six weeks or so to avoid spending forty odd quid a week in Tesco Metro and Sainsbury's. Be frugal!

CLASS ATTENDANCE


Believe me when I say it's damn important to get your behind out of bed in the morning and show up to class. I know its sounds obvious, and to anyone not at uni/never having been there, will think it's stupid to say that, because obviously you'd attend, otherwise what's the point in enrolling?

But there comes certain times in the year, maybe you're lacking in sleep because you're up til 3am most nights working on your projects and modules, perhaps you're on the third night out of the week and you're absolutely not showing up to class tomorrow or you really can't bear to move from your comfy and cosy bed. I can relate.

In 2018,  I vowed to show up to classes more because the first term of second year was awful, I (mostly) hated it and I couldn't bring myself to go in. Mum, if you're reading this, I didn't miss too much, just the odd day or two here and there. Many students can attest that sometimes it gets too much and you need that break. It's not like school or college, you don't get half terms, your days off each week are full with cramming in work for the next class and when you do get a break for a couple of weeks (Christmas & Easter), you're likely to be so swamped with work still that it's not a break at all. And then summer rolls around, you have to think about getting a job and all you want to do is cry and catch up on 9 months worth of lost sleep. This is what I'm feeling right about now.

But that promise I made to myself worked, I made myself go into class unless I knew there wasn't any point going and I honestly felt far better for it at the end of the day, I felt like I'd achieved something and nine times out of ten, I was more motivated to continue working. It's really easy to fall behind even when you miss just one lesson. No one is explaining it to you again, you're figuring that out all on your own.

SOCIAL LIFE



If I thought that moving would make me more social then boy was I wrong?! I've had more nights out for sure, but I still hate being out, I still feel uncomfortable and I still want to get into bed with a cup of tea instead of knocking back shots at 2am. Again, that's the type of person I am, I much prefer cocktails and civility to shitty club music and too much PDA.

The upside of second year was a new group of friends. There was a friend of mine from first year, who this year became one of my best friends, (Yes Emily, we still have to start our business one day, maybe when we conquer Manchester) that I'm so grateful for, she's perfect for coffee trips, having a good old shop with and the best at cheering me up. And then there's Lou, my current flatmate (can you believe we get another year of 1am Rent sing-a-long's and too much tea and korma? Let's not forget almost weekly cinema trips), who I can say has become my best friend, I don't know if I've ever clicked with anyone so fast and become such good friends in a very short period of time. You're the bees knees kidda.

In first year I didn't understand all those endless quotes about the friends you make in uni will be friends for life, I thought something was wrong with me because my friends didn't feel like that, I couldn't imagine even speaking to most people after uni. It was only in second year that I finally understood, I now have friends that I can see past uni with, I can see us still having catch ups in ten, twenty odd years, and that's what makes me grateful about this whole experience. Just because you haven't clicked with anyone right away, doesn't mean you won't.

So all in all, I might not be going out all too much, but my 'social' life is most definitely better and I'm a lot happier with the people around me now. It's proof that things do get better.

HEALTHCARE


This is something I hadn't thought of for quite some time. My mum did mention it quite a lot prior to me moving but as usual I brushed it off, and then during freshers week, as luck would have it, I found myself in need of a doctor. Uh oh. I heard about a practice that offered nurse's appointments on campus, so I signed myself up with them pronto and had an appointment the following week.

Ask around at uni, they tend to have tonnes of information to give you regarding GP's, Dentists, Healthcare assistance etc, so take everything they can offer you and browse around online. I may be sick of the NHS Direct website by now, but it's come in very useful over the past twenty months. It's super important you're registered with a GP practise because you never know when you're going to be in need of seeking their help, but if it's really urgent or you don't want to change from your home practise, there are usually plenty that will take you on for an emergency appointment and then deal with you for the course of your treatment.

Take all of this from your older (or perhaps younger) cyber sister and please take note of the really important stuff. Yeah, it may be boring having to focus on being an adult (because who really wants to do that?), but trust me, I procrastinate far too much and don't get shit done and then spend weeks complaining, so save yourself some time (and your friends and family the earache) and don't put things off. You'll thank me, and yourself, in the long run.

No matter how overwhelming life gets here sometimes, I know that breaks away from this place do me good, they allow me to work on myself and start fresh each September. I fall in love with this city all over again and enjoy myself more than I ever have. It's been a really stressful year for multiple reasons, and whilst part of me is glad it's over, all the bits in between have been such fun and I'm a teeny bit sad to say goodbye. 

In twelve months I'm going to review this again, and I'll probably have a tonne of tips for you all, so watch out for that. I'll be graduating then. But let's not think about that right now.

If there's anything else you want to know, you have any questions about uni life or you need my help with anything, reach out in the comments, on social media or drop me an e-mail. I'm always happy to help!

S xo

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1 comment

  1. I remember when I moved to university I felt a bit disheartened too because I was expecting such a big change! But it wasn't as drastic as I thought I wanted it to be. Looking back now, I am happy it was not so drastic! x

    Ariadna || RAWR BOWS

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