University is where you make lifelong friends. First year is the best time of your life. These were things I’d come so accustomed to hearing that I couldn’t fathom anything less than that. I believed I’d come to university and my life would transform. I’d go out every night, have countless friends and that first year would be nonstop highs and fun.
This, however, was not the case at all and it’s about time another side of the story was shared. Think of this as a myth-busting if you like.
First off, can I say I have met some lovely people at uni and have made a handful of very good friends, ‘lifelong’ if you will. The university is full of such a large mix of people it’s hard not to. Contrary to what social media and all those that have gone before, will have you believe, however, this number is more in the under 5’s than the 5 +’s. There being so many people it is slightly harder to properly connect with people, and not everyone gets on with every single one of their flatmates or lives in lively social halls. So sometimes you don’t have that many people to talk to. If you do find yourself in this situation try and go beyond just those you live with and are o your course and try out for teams/clubs and societies and maintain attendance to spark new friendships there. Also, try and avoid comparing yourself to your friends, social media is an absolute devil for enabling this but try and remember you don’t know their situation and that everyone’s experiences will differ because we don’t all go to the same university.
In terms of going out, do your research and know if it’s actually right for you. I always thought going out was an essential part of student life and to not go out would put me at some sort of disadvantage in life. So when placed in my current halls I was disappointed to find out it was the notoriously unsocial/un-going out hall and that the ‘party halls’ were in Fallowfield. After some contemplation and 2 experiences going to a nightclub, it soon dawned on me that I actually detest going out. It’s too loud and too crowded and weirdly intimate for my liking, so I was actually in the perfect halls for me. But perhaps you’re not like me and you love the sound of socialising and going out with friends then there’s a good chance the Fallowfield halls will be for you. My advice? Make sure you know what’s right for you and don’t try and change to fit a preconceived idea of a ‘real’ student experience.
Last but not least first year is all highs and is the best time of your life you say? I think not. Yes, first year is an incredible experience. Living away from home in a city you’ve never been before. Trying new activities. Learning more about a subject you’re genuinely interested in. Brilliant. But nobody tells you about the loneliness and feelings of isolation. The missing home. Missing family and friends. The workload. The exams – which by the way do count for something as they sometimes are the difference between being on a placement year or not. Feeling inadequate compared to your friends’ experiences elsewhere. The 9 a.m.’s and so much more. These are all real and relevant experiences to be discussed and I’m yet to find someone who hasn’t experienced at least one of these.
In short is uni all it’s made out to be – No and yes. No, because no two people will have the exact same experience of university. That’s absolutely expected because no two people are the same. However, is university enjoyable? – Yes. Am I glad I came? – Yes. Do you cope with being away from your loved ones? – Facetime. Do you make friends? – Great ones. How’s the work – Manageable. But will your experience be the same as mine? – No.
It’s not always great and it doesn’t have to be. If you get to university/are at university and find yourself experiencing anything I’ve mentioned such as feeling alone, sad or overwhelmed (or worse) please do talk to someone, visit the counselling services, the WellbeingUoM Twitter or a doctor and make sure you’re looking after yourself first and doing what’s right for you.