Everything you should know about the adventure that is starting university, from someone who was been there herself! From making friends that are more like family to trying new things, here are a few words of wisdom.
1. It will take you a while to find your feet
First year is all trial and error: from cooking every meal for yourself, to figuring out how to use the laundry systems, to establishing your boundaries away from parental control. It will take a while to get used to it all. Academically, you will have more freedom than before, but also more responsibility. It sounds like a cliché, but Rome truly wasn’t built in a day.
2. You will continue to get to know new people and make friends until the day you graduate. You won’t necessarily find all your best mates in the first few weeks
A lot of people worry about making friends instantly, but there is no quick fix to finding your university besties. That kind of bond takes time anyway. You will meet new people in classes, on nights out and through societies you join. Yet you will also meet people in unexpected places, like in the stairwell as you are taking out the trash.
3. You will try many new things and fail at some of them – but you should still give them a go
Having the bravery to try new things is what university is truly about. You will find people with the most niche interests. In your hometown, the options might have been limited to a few ball sports or the drama club; but at university, you will find manga societies, belly dance groups and pottery clubs. Try anything you are vaguely interested in, and you might find a new passion or at least some new friends.
4. Grades aren’t everything. Uni is about so much more
There will be long nights at your desk, tears aplenty, and endless cups of coffee. If you put in the effort, you will be so proud when you get the marks you deserve. However, if you spend four years in the library alone, you won’t be giving yourself the full university experience that you deserve. Create more memories for yourself than just the view of your laptop screen.
5. You may not find love at university, but finding yourself is more important anyway
University can be a bit like the animal kingdom. You will find anything from the most casual of hook-ups (the bonobos) to the most devoted of relationships (the lobster couples). Everyone is running on their own timeline. Just because lots of people meet their partner whilst at university, it doesn’t mean that you will. Whilst the first year can feel like a sexual buffet at times, by the time you reach the third year it can feel like you’re surrounded by old married couples. Don’t feel pressured to fit into a specific category!
6. Savour the chaos, no time in your life will be quite like this again
You will enjoy going out, but you will also yearn for those quiet nights in. Some of your favourite memories with your flatmates will be made watching Love Island in pyjamas as you eat takeaway. One day, you might live in a polished home with photo frames and clean floors, but for now take the crumb-lined countertops, endless dirty mugs and post-it note wall displays in your stride. Whether you are waking up on a stranger’s sofa or dressing up scandalously for Halloween, know that being this irresponsible can’t last forever. This lifestyle isn’t sustainable, but it can be a lot of fun.
7. Not everybody will pull equal weight when it comes to household chores
There will be some awkwardness when it comes to assigning duties and figuring out responsibilities. It will become clear whose parents have been spoiling them and who has been contributing to household chores for years. It could take a few awkward conversations, but ultimately sharing the cleaning tasks and delegating duties is crucial, so that one person isn’t left mothering the entire flat.
8. Like in Friends, you might find that your friends become your family
You might be surprised to find that by Christmas of the first year, university feels more like home than your parent’s house. Your university mates will inevitably witness sides of you that your parents never got to. They will probably see you at your best, your worst, and everything in between. The best friends at university are the ones who support you, cherish you, and hold your hair back whilst you vomit.
9. You might regret your degree subject, but that’s okay
There can be much value in discovering what you don’t want to do. Although it could feel like time wasted if you decide to scrap your career plans, the truth is that choosing the “wrong” degree might be what made you realise your passion in the first place. Every experience is a lesson learned and society often dictates that you need to get things right the first time. There are different paths to reach any goal, and you may not take the most conventional one.
10. You can start something new during any stage of university
There is no rule saying that if you don’t start something in the first year, you don’t get another shot. Want to try out for the swim team during your last year? Go for it. Want to learn a new language halfway through the semester? Go for it. University is all about following your instincts and taking every opportunity. Although you might be twenty years old, you will find people the same age as your parents sitting in the lecture theatres with you. Take a leaf out of their book, it is never too late!