Brace yourself for shenanigans and stress.
The resounding memory of the beginning of my first year at university was my mother leaving me in my new halls with the parting gift of a novelty card, inside which she quoted “the words of the Great Winnie the Pooh”. These quotes were as follows:
“Promise me that you’ll remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger
than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for the others to come to you.
You have to go to them sometimes.”
Without a word of a lie, in spite of my unabashed excitement - I cried for twenty minutes. I sat, sobbing, on the foot of my perfectly made single bed, in my shabby new room with no clue what to do with myself.
If you’re anything like me, when you embark upon the adventure that is university, you will be somehow ridiculously over-prepared, while simultaneously being shockingly under-prepared. I awkwardly introduced myself to just about everyone, mortifying myself to such an extent that I resigned myself to plugging in my tiny travel kettle on my desk and stashing a hefty stock of snacks in my room so I wouldn’t need to emerge and run the risk of bumping into those I shared a kitchen with.
‘Kitchen-mates’ and flatmates are a bit of a mixed bag in first year. Some have a grand old time rubbing elbows with the ‘bestest buddies’ assigned to them by a computer. Others, myself included, never quite click with them. If you fall into this category – don’t panic - you are by no means doomed. However, it can be disheartening when you’ve heard everyone and their dog telling you they met their best friend in halls. But, social butterfly or absolute introvert, you will meet people from all walks of life, from all over the world, from the ones with permanent beer goggles, to the ones who make a home out of the library. While finding your niche at university may not be the easiest feat, there really is a place for everyone if you’re willing to go looking. If you don’t feel you fit into the university scene right off the bat, don’t worry! Whether you’re sporty, a theatre kid, a casual philosopher, a metal head, you’re really into D&D, or, like me, you just can’t seem to find a place for yourself anywhere: you can. You just need to go out and find it.
In first year: you will make mistakes. This is something I think I knew, but hadn’t really accepted. While I wouldn’t advocate going out of your way to make mistakes, they’re a lot less scary when you accept them as part of the ride. You’ll likely make module selections you’ll wish you hadn’t, befriend people who don’t deserve you, mess up your sleeping pattern (whether through studying, Netflix or partying, I’m not here to judge), attend some truly dire flat parties, sleep through lectures, miss deadlines, kiss the wrong people, and make the mistake of ‘one more drink’ a few too many times. And all of that is okay.
There’s no disputing that university can be a tricky, laden with hellish moments and probably a few occasions where you feel a level of embarrassment you thought you had left in high school. But if you make the most of your time there, it’s so worth it. Whether you handle the pressures as though you were born to them, or in a manner akin to a horrified toddler: university will test you. One way or another. But the chances are it will make you a better version of yourself. Even if university isn’t the experience you expected it to be.
When you’re starting out, it’s easy to resign yourself to feeling anxious and lonely, reading Winnie the Pooh quotes and such the like. But there’s a way for everyone at university that’s willing to dig for theirs. While, as in all things, some matters may be out of your hands: your university experience will be what you decide to make of it.
So go in with your eyes wide open, breathe, and, just remember, there is life after first year.
About the Author:
Cara Lindsay (20).
Student: English Studies.