The fact that it is going to be Fresher's week next week for many of you has really got me reminscing about the good old days this weekend.
This is not another 'advice' post. I've seen lots of those floating around over the past couple of weeks and I think they've pretty much got it covered. But I wanted to share a few of my experiences with you, because...well, because I'm indulging myself, really.
When I look back at the three years I spent at university, I feel such a strong sense of longing. I would love to go back in time and do it all again in a sense, but at the same time, I know that it wasn't all plain sailing and that I went through some tough times, too. That's the thing about hindsight - it's easy to remember the good bits and forget about the bad. But I don't think that's really such a terrible thing, because at the end of the day the good almost always outweighs the bad.
I remember my Freshers' Week like it was yesterday. Arriving in halls to find that my room for the next year was not much more than a prison cell, and that the oven in the kitchen - to be shared by seven people - was quite literally the size of a microwave. But after the initial shock (horror), my new housemates gathered in the kitchen and began to chat, and before long we were getting on like a house on fire and heading off down to the Student Union bar to make the most of the cut price drinks on offer.
My university - or at least, those in halls on my campus - were an extremely sociable lot and we spent a lot of time in that bar that year. Sadly, I've since heard that it closed down after we finished uni, as the more recent students just weren't interested. Worse still, the campus itself has now been closed too, and is scheduled for demolition. It makes me so sad to think that a place that holds so many good memories for me is just going to be destroyed forever.
In the first semester, I made the mistake of getting together with one of the guys who lived on my floor. It was short-lived, as fresher relationships often are, and you can imagine that it didn't make for the most comfortable living situation for the rest of the year!
The following year rolled around, and having successfully managed to balance lectures and fun in the first year and still come away with great grades, I was in for a shock. The work - or at least, the markers - suddenly became much harsher, and I wasn't prepared for that. I had been certain that I had everything covered, and all of a sudden my marks weren't what they once had been, and I must admit, I found it really disheartening. So much so that I did start to dodge a few lectures and get behind with my coursework. I was also living with four girls I had met in the first year, and the living situation was really not living up to my expectations. Truth be told, I never really felt that I clicked with them all that well (apart from one, who I had been very good friends with since day one), but the process of house-hunting begins so early on in the first year that you don't really have the chance to get to know people properly before you have to arrange your set-up for the next year - or at least, not in my case.
Luckily, I had a job in a local restaurant and I absolutely loved it to bits. I started there when the resteraunt was just about to open it's doors to the public for the first time, and the team became like a big family to me. I have never worked somewhere that EVERYONE got on in such a way before. We would hang out together at work, after work and at the weekend, and ironically, these people turned out to be the best friends I made whilst at uni - and they weren't even students! I had such good times with them, and we are still close to this day.
In my third year, I found myself still living in the same house, as no one had really wanted to bother with the hassle or upheavil of finding somewhere new. It was easier just to stay put, and I didn't really mind anymore since I was rarely at home. This was the year that I met my husband and finished uni, the year one of my housemates tried to take her own life (yeah, we won't go into that) and the year I made some decisions about my future, so all in all, a pretty dramatic time for me!
So there you go, that's my uni experience in a nutshell. What did I learn from it?
- Never get together with a housemate. Especially in the first semester.
- Don't spend all your money on Tesco Finest and Marks and Spencers nosh. You are a poor student.
- Don't take out TWO student overdrafts. It might seem like free money at the time but it's not so much fun paying back all the money you spent on cider and late night takeaways :(
- Never put a whole egg in the microwave.
And on a slightly more serious note:
- Don't get disheartened when you start the second year. The first year is only designed to ease you in and get you up to speed, so the marks are always more generous in order to encourage you. Your marks may take a dive in the second year at first but those good ones you started off with are proof that your lecturers think you have it in you.
- Don't give up if you end up stuck in a living situation you are not comfortable with. If you really can't move out then just spend time with friends who make you happy. Eat with them, study with them - you only really need to go home to sleep ;)
What was your Fresher's Week like? Do you have any regrets about your uni experience if you have already finished? What are your fondest memories?
If you have just started, what are your first impressions, and if you're just about to then what are you most apprehensive about?