Six weeks into the “Sixth Form to Uni Student Transformation” and I’ve survived fresher’s flu, conquered the hills of Sheffield and even taken a selfie with the Mayor of Sheffield. Now, I believe I am in a position to share with you my first experiences of Sheffield.
1. People aren’t really that scary… Flatmates, course-mates, society friends and friends… People are everywhere and I’m yet to find a place where I am unable to speak to anyone. Having so many people in the city, it’s nearly impossible to not meet somebody nice on your way to a morning lecture but it’s also not so big that you don’t see a familiar face each day!
2. It takes some serious skills to poison yourself with your own cooking… One of the most common perceptions of cooking your own meals at university is that you will undercook something and become seriously ill. The truth? The closest that you will get to this is when your immune system takes the time to adjust during Freshers’ Week. Admittedly, I am still amazed by a flatmate who has eaten nothing for dinner except toast since his arrival (where the probability of food poisoning by toast is minimal). Nevertheless, the moment of satisfaction after you have cooked your first full meal from scratch can be matched by no other.
3. Studying, one of the many reasons why you are actually at university… Initially relieved at having chosen a course which I did indeed turn out to love, I was soon met with an impressively long reading list, non-assessed pieces of work and seminar preparations. The textbooks no longer have colourful pictures in them; instead the interesting parts are actually when you read the words and enter the world of academic debate on a principle which you never even knew existed. When you come to university, you become a ‘geek’ in your subject. There’s no denying that there are still days when even the most interesting lecture is not the most persuasive at luring you out of bed at 8am, but generally, choosing the right subject for yourself could not be more important.
4. Independence… Apart from set times for lectures and seminars, my whole week is free for me to decide what to do with. Visit the city centre? Read that journal report for tomorrow’s seminar? Meet up with some friends? Unlike Sixth Form, I’m not ‘locked’ in the library between lessons, but the freedom is to be used wisely. I soon realised that heading up to the library for an hour between lectures can do wonders for research on an upcoming essay and saves that late night panicking. It’s also about being sensible. There may not be a disapproving nod from a parent if you come home at 4am after a night out but you will almost definitely pay for it if you then have a vital seminar at 9am the following morning! You definitely need to find the balance between being a shy potato studying 24/7 in the sack and being a total party animal.
5. Opportunities… Opportunities are everywhere and deciding what you can reasonable fit into your busy timetable is the true dilemma. After enthusiastically adding my name to numerous mailing lists after some tempting freebies at the Freshers’ Fairs, I soon realised that I didn’t actually have time to physically do all of them. From sports to Bollywood dancing, historical re-enactment groups to mooting workshops…. there are even grants to help you set up your own society if there is enough interest. Cheesecake appreciation society anybody?