With CAO results coming up this Friday, university has been on my mind. Having left two years ago now, it is still something that I often stop to think about or am reminded of. University for me was three rollercoaster years but honestly, I think I’d go back to that lifestyle in a heartbeat right now! There’s no rule book for being a college student and you 100% will make some dodgy choices whilst you navigate this new chapter of your life but all the same you’ll make memories that’ll last a lifetime and meet people who’ll impact your life forever. For the week that’s in it, here’s some little pieces of advice I’d give to my 18 year old freshers self.
EVERYONE’S IN THE SAME BOAT – first and foremost, just relax and be excited. Go with as open a mind as possible and embrace the entire experience. Having emigrated to study, I knew I’d know no-one and you know what… it was one of the best ways to start the next three years of my life. Every single person walking through those first year halls doors is in the exact same situation as you and is just as nervous. You’re all starting from scratch, so just be yourself, chat to everyone and go with the flow.
KEEPING YOURSELF ALIVE IS A FULL TIME JOB – now as I mentioned above, I was moving out for the first time in my life. That meant no Mom to do the cooking, cleaning and clothes washing. This little fact definitely escaped me for the first year of college as I neglected looking after myself big time. Dominoes became the staple diet, paper plates replaced the dirty ones that sat in the sink for months (I know, DISGUSTING!) and I’m not going to lie, there was a hospital incident that involved a bacterial disease from failing to deep clean, well everything. So, my next piece of advice would be to take that extra time to feed yourself properly, wash the dishes and do the laundry before it piles up so high it looks like the Alps have taken up residency in the corner of your room.
WORK HARD, PLAY HARD – an oldie but a goodie. At the end of the day, you are at university to learn something so maybe pick up a book or two in between the night clubs and flat parties! Be careful no to dismiss the work too much as it is very possible to fail first year and not return for second. Freshers is mad, there’s something to go to every night if you want to but learn to prioritise and try – as hard as it may be – not to leave 3000 word essays until the night before so that you’re left with a three day caffeine high and a below average report to show for it. A little goes a long way and you will get through it, it just could’ve been without a lovely pair of permanent designer under-eye bags!
STAY OUT OF THE DRAMA – it’s just not worth it. Living in halls means a lot of personalities in a very small space. You’re under each other’s feet 24/7 as you become a family away from your biological ones. As you can guess, this may come with a lot of drama that needs to be avoided at all costs. Constant consumption of alcohol, a bunch of kids let loose from their parents for the first time and absolutely no rules will probably be a recipe for disaster so flee the scene at first sight of any squabble and stay neutral towards everyone.
HAVE FUN AND APPRECIATE THIS TIME – most importantly! The time you spend at uni, whether that be three or four years is so precious. Just like we’ve experienced a global pause this year with COVID, your free time whilst studying should not be taken for granted – let me tell you you’ll be wishing for endless days of Netflix the minute you walk out of the place. I mean, hindsights a great thing right, but really my biggest regret from my time at uni is not appreciating the freedom I had in my days. The potential of how you can spend them is endless and you’ll only realise it once your whole life becomes scheduled around making it to and from the office. Build that company, start that podcast, enjoy guilt-free lazy days and never EVER sit worrying about the future.
To anyone reading, I’m jealous of you starting out on this new adventure but I wish you all the best! You’ll have the time of your life and remember every situation is what you make it, so for goodness sake make this one a good one!