Having just finished uni myself, there is a LOT I’d wish I’d known before. If you’re about to go to uni, or even if you’ve been, I’m sure you’ll relate to some of these…
- You don’t need to spend hundreds on the books that they recommend.
I remember in my first year of uni feeling so overwhelmed with the amount and the price of the books that my lecturers were recommending everyone to buy. The average price of an academic textbook can be between £30-60, and when you’re doing 3-4 modules over the course of the year, it all adds up! Oh and another thing, I also wouldn’t recommend doing the TONS of reading that they set. throughout my degree I didn’t buy a single book, take a single book out of the library – it’s too time consuming, and to be honest, lecturers are wanting current knowledge not something from a library book that has been sat on the shelf for 50 years. Academic articles and the WWW is your new best friend – use it and abuse it!
2. If you’re not a big drinker, you’re going to feel it.
What came first? the alcohol or the fresher?! :’) Freshers week is a fun time to be at uni, everyone is up for socialising, it’s exciting and you’re guaranteed to have a laugh. BUT, a lot of these social events involve alcohol, which is fine if you’re up for it, but if you’re not don’t feel peer pressured into drinking. I remember my first week at uni as a fresher I went out every night of the week, and went to all my lectures – it was exhausting but worth it! Then you’ve got the ‘returners’ – freshers doesn’t end after surviving your first week at uni, it begins again every year no matter what year you’re in. I’m not a big drinker myself, and would often go on night’s out sober and get questioned as to why on earth I wasn’t drinking. The truth is, I always have been a very health conscious person, and there is nothing that will change this – not even the binge drinking culture at uni. Alcohol is the most relied upon thing in freshers, it’s like everyone is dependent on it and can’t socialise without it – it’s a coping mechanism more than anything.
3) You won’t get as much freedom as you think will with your 3rd year dissertation.
I’m speaking on behalf of my own uni and my own experience when I say this, but it’s one thing that surprised me the most about my final year. I had spent most of the summer research an idea and planning how I was going to carry it out (like they recommend you to). However upon meeting my supervisor, it was obvious this idea wasn’t going to happen :’). In the end it was probably for the best, as my supervisor was very helpful due to it being a topic he was familiar with, but I can’t help but wonder If I would have enjoyed it more if it had been a topic that I originally wanted to do?
4) Homesickness hits hard.
Even the most unlikeliest of people will experience this at some point. It’s only to be expected when you’re used to the easy life at home and then you’re fending for yourself. I was homesick for a good while at uni because I felt so out of my depth. I eventually got over it, but It took me a while and many trips back home on the weekends to get accustomed to it! But the point is it takes time, and before you know it you’ll feel settled and content again. Also, homesickness is something people experience at different times. It can be within the first week, month or even 6 months! It’s not a sign of weakness or that you haven’t yet cut ‘the apron strings’ I actually think it’s pretty normal and it means that you’re out of your comfort zone. I have done a post more in depth about this, and how I overcame it which I will link here.
5) House hunting is stressful.
I’d recommend starting this before you break up for Christmas, and ideally secure one so you can avoid the rush when everyone comes back. Oh, and be prepared to lower your standards. I went to many a dodgy house viewing, one of them we got trapped inside a bedroom, as the door handle fell off from the inside…I’ve never seen an estate agent look so concerned :’) All part of the fun! Try and visualise what the house will look like without all the student mess everywhere, as difficult as that may be…
BUT…other than that I do think the experience of going to uni sets you up for a lot of things in life. I also think its not the be all and end all – think wisely before you go and thoroughly research all your options. I don’t regret going, as I know I have developed so much as a person, but I am thankful that it’s helped me realise that academia is not for me. Through uni I have found the path I need to take, and that is what I value most from my experience.
Thank you for reading,
Jazzy B ❤