If there’s one thing I can learn from my whole university experience, it’s that it has changed me in more positive ways than negative. It doesn’t seem long ago that I was shipped off from my hometown in a 4×4 that, when fully packed, I probably couldn’t breathe in due to the amount of rubbish I had brought with me (a rookie mistake). By the time my second year came around, I managed to gain a little more oxygen, so at least I had learnt from my first mistake. Taking examples like these and turning once negative situations into more positive ones has really helped when times are not going quite as planned. Every student’s university life is different, but I thought I would share some of the ways in which my life has changed, even if just one person can relate and feel better about themselves.
I can finally cook more than just a ready meal. After an instance in first year when I thought it was a good idea to balance multiple ready meals in my scrawny arms, resulting in one of said ready meals dropping on the floor and an explosion of curry, rice, etc. occurring, I thought it would be a good idea to learn how to cook from scratch (or at least fry some meat and veg and use a ready-made sauce). In the long run, this turned out cheaper, and I can take some of these top-notch cooking skills along with me later in life. On the flip side, I’ve also learnt it’s totally fine to eat a ready meal and not feel guilty about it – funnily enough assessments do get in the way of spending hours (if you’re me) over a stove.
I don’t actually mind talking to random people and making new friends. When you’re forced into a seemingly awkward situation of making friends with a bunch of people in halls, you often find that making friends in other areas of uni life comes a lot more naturally to you. Even if you didn’t live in halls, you’ve got to sit next to someone in lecture theatres, right? Plucking up the courage to just chat to someone is probably one of the best things you can do in first year, mainly because that other person is hoping to do the same thing too, and you may end up making life-long friends. Also knowing that the first person you spoke to may not be your best friend throughout the entirety of your university life is a good thing to think too. Come my final year, I find it so much easier to network with people of different ages, genders, backgrounds, ethnicities – perhaps people I would never interact with in my home life at all. Of course, this by no means is applicable to all students, and you may find other ways to make friends throughout uni. However, for me, I started out as quite a timid person and have turned into someone who has at least got a little more confidence to ask someone on the bus what time it is (if your iPhone enjoys dying on you at the most fabulous of times).
My interests, both academically and personally, have become more refined. I’ve probably learnt to embrace my inner ‘nerd’-self whilst being at university, as a result of meeting like-minded people and learning to not care so heavily about what people think. I’ve never really been interested in the things that are classed as ‘stereotypically female’ (at the end of the day, what even are these things? Why should we conform to them? That’s a whole new blog post.) but I certainly have been interested in computer games, action films, and getting too obsessed with Game of Thrones. I guess I’ve always been like that, but I’ve definitely learnt to embrace these quirks that make me, me. This is probably because I’ve made friends who like me for being me, too. Even if you’re not there yet with the current friendships you’ve made, they’re probably not worth it, but trust me, you’ll get there in the end. Similarly, I came to university thinking I was interested in one area of my course, and now I’m doing a dissertation on a completely different thing that I hated at A-Level. Some things seem to fall into place, yet other things you’re still trying to work out. Hang in there.
I’m more open-minded about the world around me. Relating back to earlier points, hanging out with a bunch of new people really has brought to light several different issues, of which I may not have cared for if I hadn’t have come to university. I won’t go into detail the things that have enlightened me, but being at university has made me explore issues on the environment, women’s rights, immigration, politics, etc. that I may not have been interested in had I’d have stayed home. I’ve been opened up to a completely different world it seems, by getting to know varying opinions on these topics and developing my own stance. University seems more like a community than just a learning environment. I hope that some of you can relate to this too and that I’m not being crazy!
Whatever your experience has been, and in whatever way it has shaped you, I hope that you realise many of the issues you have faced have probably made you a stronger person. Even if you’re not enjoying university, which is completely normal, it is still something you have been able to grow from and add to your own knowledge as a human. In this blog post I’ve tried not only to give my own experiences, but hopefully allow people to relate to these too. Alternatively, you may have had a different experience, but that’s completely okay!