Something that bugs my little brain quite a lot is the stigma surrounding university. Maybe one of the biggest life changes you’ll have to deal with, you’re supposed to arrive at university having the motivation to go out at least 5 times a week, get so wasted that you crawl back into your flat at 4am desperately trying not to throw up, make the best of friends and have an absolute whale of a time 24/7. If you don’t exactly always feel as if you’re doing that, then society deems you as a failure. Which is the biggest load of rubbish I’ve ever heard.
I myself am at university, albeit only for a semester and a bit, but I am the first person to quash such ridiculous university myths. Especially when you’re a fresher, the pressure to always be sociable and to just appear as if this new life is 110% incredible is definitely there, but you shouldn’t give in to it. So, I thought I’d round up a few home truths about university, so that hopefully A) I’m not the only person thinking these things and B) you’re able to relate to what I’m saying. It’s about time we start admitting how we’re really feeling, people.
MYTH: first year is so easy – you’ll have a ton of free time
REALITY: there is absolutely no way that you’ll get completely on top of your work, ever
I used to be a fan of lists, but since I’ve started uni, lists just give me palpitations. The absolute endless list of tasks to do in one day alone can be extremely daunting, verging on bloody impossible. My university kindly set me 6,500 words to write over the Christmas holiday. 6,500 words; that’s over half a dissertation to write in under 4 weeks. And I’m in first year and have absolutely zero clue what I’m writing. My course tutors clearly do not understand the meaning of a ‘holiday’. I mean, maybe I picked the wrong subject studying English & Creative Writing, which is definitely an extremely reading-and-assignment-heavy course, but still. Come on. You can try in vain to cram in all the readings, all the seminar prep, get yo assignments done, actually have a social life and don’t become a recluse and to also get out of bed successfully every morning in time for those dreaded 9ams, but in reality, it’s not always going to happen.
MYTH: As soon as freshers is over, you’ll be able to fall into a routine
REALITY: Thanks to good old freshers, your sleeping pattern will go completely and utterly out your accommodation’s tiny little windows for good
Freshers may have been fun (well, most of the time)- no responsibilities, lie ins till late afternoon, meeting new people and going out. But your sleeping pattern will not thank you for this. It will instead metaphorically put its middle finger up to all those good times you had in that fateful week and will instead decide to mess around with your body for good. You suddenly find yourself napping at 3pm for a couple of hours before you wander lazily into the kitchen to make yet another easy dinner of pasta or frozen pizza. Then, lying in bed at night, you’ll desperately wait for sleep to come, but the sound of teenagers drunkenly chanting outside your window and the flat next door’s Drake-fuelled pres will make it literally impossible to get some shut eye.
MYTH: You’ll totally love the independence of living alone
REALITY: Adulting is boring
The depressing reality of not actually having a dishwasher in your accommodation nearly tips you over the edge and who even wants to walk to a laundrette when you could just stay in bed and binge-watch Netflix? Budgeting is a complete and utter pain in the bum and the constant urge to get Deliveroo and take full advantage of Asos’ student discount makes your overdraft seem rather inviting. Adulting is definitely a right bore.
MYTH: You can finally choose exactly what you want to study- you’ll find every aspect of your course so exciting!
REALITY: Lectures can be mind-numbingly boring
I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about a 50-odd-year-old male lecturer’s voice that can send even the most keen student to sleep. Whether it’s that night out the day before, or the fact that you didn’t manage to do the reading for the lecture so you don’t know what the heck he’s talking about, but lectures will make you contemplate dropping out. Good thing is, the student loan induced debt you’ve already accumulated (that you sadly won’t lose if you were to quit) is the only thing that’s keeping you from doing so. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
MYTH: You don’t have to be in uni as much as a normal school day, so it’ll be a breeze
REALITY: Even if you tell yourself you won’t skip lectures, you inevitably will.
Skipping lectures is a slippery slope. You know full well that if you miss that one 9am, it’ll lead to you missing yet another and before you know it, you’re able to justify why skipping a 3pm is perfectly adequate. ‘Lectures are recorded, I can listen back to them’, you tell yourself. Do you listen back to them, though? That’s a big fat nope.
MYTH: First year doesn’t matter, chill out!
REALITY: Yes, you only need 40%, but you still want to do well for your own sanity
A friend told me recently that you shouldn’t stress in first year, as when you reach the pressure-heavy second year, you’ll have wish you’d have taken more time to chill in the first. That’s all well and good, but no one wants to say at the end of their first year that they barely scraped a third. You still want to do well for your own sake, even though technically it doesn’t matter as such.
MYTH: You can totally go to your lecturer or personal tutor if you’re struggling on an assignment
REALITY: You’re no longer spoon-fed information to regurgitate in an exam and if you want help, you actively have to get out and grab it
Lecturers are busy people. They offer you knowledge in a lecture that makes little to no sense, that has arbitrary relation to the assignments you’ll be writing. They have little to no hours a week where they have time to listen to the moans of you, just another face in a sea of students that they speak to in a packed room of 200 people. If you’re lucky, you might be able to pop and see them for 10 minutes if you’re really struggling with an assignment. But that takes effort, like getting out of bed and actually walking to campus. So you probably won’t take them up on that offer.
MYTH: Everyone else you know is having the time of their lives at uni
REALITY: We all live our lives filtered- what you see of others are glossed over, best bits of their time
Within the first semester of uni, social media is saturated with all your old school friends having, indeed, a whale of a time. They’re constantly out getting drunk, whilst you’re wallowing in self-pity because the assignments have started rolling in. They’re also out having cute flat dinners at Nando’s, whilst you’re skint and only chat to your flat mates when you bump into them in the kitchen. But what you don’t see is their petty flat arguments, the pile of deadlines they’re ignoring and their late-night phone calls home stressing about university life. Everyone feels the same way from time to time; we are all in the same boat, sailing those treacherous waters. U r not alone xoxo
MYTH: Social life at university is so exciting; there is always something to do
REALITY: You will definitely get lonely, and that’s okay
When you’re lying in bed at night, your mind will inevitably wander to back at home: your family, your friends and the life you’ve left behind. You can feel in limbo between two houses- uni doesn’t feel like home, yet you arrive back to your roots for a weekend and your family home doesn’t feel yours anymore. You can have the most wonderful friends at uni and your days can be packed, but you will have those little twinges of loneliness now and again.
MYTH: You’ll meet friends for life at university
REALITY: Although you will definitely gain friends for life, when those relationships are still new, it can often feel as if you have no one to really, truly talk to
When you’re meeting new people, you don’t want to burden them with your life problems – you’re missing your old friends, the ones you’ve had bonds with for years and can tell absolutely anything to. You can have the most wonderful uni friends, but because it’s all so new, it can sometimes feel like, at first, you have no one to confide in.
MYTH: You have to go out as much as possible in first year- make the most of it
REALITY: If you don’t want to go out, just don’t go out. There are other ways to make the most of your time at uni
There are some people that go out around 5 times a week, every week, without fail. But are they really enjoying themselves? If you’re not feeling up to going out, just say no. No one’s going to hate you for it. Going out and having a good time is a part of uni, but it’s not the most important part. The important thing is to make sure you’re enjoying yourself in the way that you want to. Those club nights can wait.
MYTH: You’re going to be best mates instantly with your flat mates, and you’re going to have felt as if you’ve known each other for years in a matter of days
REALITY: No one has a conventional flat- it’s the luck of the draw who you’re put with
Uni is hectic – each of you have different schedules and it may be that the only time you get to chat with your flatmates is when you bump into them in the kitchen when you’re cooking dinner. You may live with completely lovely people, but if you don’t have the same interests or priorities, it’s okay if you’re close, but not the best of friends. And it’s also okay if you don’t find the time to go out for dinner as a flat every week- as long as you all get along and can understand why you’re sometimes holed up in your room stressing about an assignment, that’s okay!
MYTH: We’re going to work together as a flat to keep the communal areas tidy
REALITY: The kitchen is always going to be a tip; you’re always going to live in squalor until the day you move out
It’s all well and good making bin rotas and telling everyone to keep the cooking area clean, but the reality is no one will remember to listen to you. If you can’t beat them, join them and it’s a whole lot easier to just suppress the disgust at the state of your kitchen and try to love the lived-in feel of the tip. That’s student life for ya.
MYTH: Uni is pricey, but it’s worth it
REALITY: You spend so little time actually at uni, you start to question why exactly your course warrants £9,000 a year.
Every holiday, you get at least a month off, and then summer rolls around in June and you don’t start back until late September. Which means you’re only spending around 7 months actually at university. Sat in a lecture the other day, someone managed to work out the cost of that hour: just over £20. Which means you’re spending over £40 for each 2 hour lecture you have. Value for money? I genuinely do not think so.
MYTH: You can spend as much time as you want doing nothing, going out and socialising
REALITY: At the end of the day, you’re at uni to study
If you head to uni with the hope of doing everything but the studying, you’re in for one mahoosive shock. University work is time-consuming and if you want a solid 2:1 and marginal chance of getting a career and surviving in the cut-throat world of work after you leave, you’ve got to put in the hours. Hours of work, that is. Not hours of getting smashed. Although you’ll probably somehow fit that in anyway, because us students like to burn the candle at both ends.
However, as much as uni sounds it from this post, it isn’t all doom and gloom. True, people do sugar-coat their experiences and therefore it makes it the whole lot harder to admit that you’re not always having that whale of a time, but university is, in the end, worth it. You’ll meet the loveliest people, you will slowly learn to (slightly) enjoy your course and uni will teach you the vital skills needed to get by in life. Fabulous!