What I’ve learnt in my first semester at uni: a compendium

Almost semester ago I moved slightly more down south from Newcastle to Sheffield in order to study English literature. From the moment I sent off my UCAS form (what feels like about 300 years ago now) I completely underestimated how hard the first few weeks were going to be, but I also underestimated how much I’d learn and how much I’d change as a person because of it. My first semester was definitely a very up-and-down experience, but somehow, I managed to pull through and survive.

One of the more daunting prospects of starting university for me was the jump from A Level to undergraduate-level study. I worried profusely over what exactly I had to do in seminars and lectures and felt like I’d completely forgot how to write an essay over the summer break, yet sliding into the lifestyle was surprisingly easy. Lectures are really different from school, yeah, but getting into a routine of bringing my laptop along and revising over the slides at a later date was not as difficult as I’d made out in my head. And after getting my first assignment back – and doing my first exam – I seemed to be doing okay at it.

But of course, my university experience in my first semester was not just limited to my education. Moving into halls, for someone who has barely left home on their own before, was an incredibly eye-opening experience and not one I can say I have one hundred percent enjoyed. That being said, I have learnt many things about living with people you barely know in a city I’ve barely visited – I’m naturally introverted, so talking to these new people scared me more than it should, but now I’m so much more confident in new social situations after really being chucked in the deep end. I’ve also learned how to become a bit of a domestic goddess; cooking and washing my own clothes, concepts that were previously pretty alien to me, are now like second nature. I’d finally found my independence after almost nineteen years being dependent on my family.

And, finally, socially, the first semester definitely taught me many things. Before university I’d never really been drunk, but the alcohol culture ingrained in fresher’s week (and the many weeks after) resulted in my first proper night out and my first horrific hangover. I sort-of know the rules of ring of fire and where is good and not good to go on West Street. I’d been on bar crawls with various societies I somehow discovered the courage to join after traipsing through the fresher’s fair. I’d finally made a part of life that gave me a lot of fear and anxiety my comfort zone.

Now the first semester has been quite long over, I’m quite excited to see how not just my next semester but the next two years of my university life will take me. This time next year I’ll be living a house with people a few months ago I’d never met before but now consider some of my closest friends – which is something I definitely did not see happening to me before I moved down to Sheffield. Rather than showing me my limitations, university has actually showed me what I’m capable of, so I’m hoping this attitude will stay with me for a long time yet.

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