If you’re going to university you will be told several things, for certain. For someone as anti-social as me, my family told me I would ‘find myself’ or at least become more sociable. This was somewhat true in my experience, but remember everyone is different.
Here are things no one told me about university (or were unclear about).
IT’S A BIT LIKE SCHOOL
You have an attendance record; you have to study; you have a timetable and there’s still that ingrained hierarchy between First Years and Thirds.
Certainly, people may have mentioned the work but (at least with me) they focussed on what happened outside of classes. They compared the party life of my family members, while never mentioning the hard work it would take.
That is a bad way to enter university because you enter it thinking Fresher’s Week is the be-all and end all. You end up trying to live for Tuesday’s pub-crawl.
And if no one mentioned how much it was like school, they definitely didn’t mention how different it would be. If you put your hand up to answer a question you’ll be seen at best as cute, or at worst an imbecile. Of course there’ll be that one lecturer who insists on it – watch out for them.
Another difference is – if you’re not an Oxbridge student – you’ll likely refer to your lecturers by their forename. It’s weird and a little awkward, but you’ll look weirder if you call John, Mr. Smith.
THE FIRST YEAR MEANT NOTHING
Okay, not quite. But this is a common belief in the UK as you just have to pass the first year to make it to the second. Now, this doesn’t mean you can slack; if you fail you have to retake the year. If you retake the year it costs £9000 more (not including the cost of living). I didn’t know this before coming to university but it’s hammered in pretty quick after Fresher’s.
FIRST YEAR IS LIKE FAMILY
You move out of the family home and are put into a house or flat of strangers in exactly your situation. They will be the people you share your kitchen, your bathroom and most of your life changing experiences within the first year.
I always look fondly on my old house ‘163’. It’s been two years and I still feel a loyalty to those three numbers. We did funny and stupid things together from having a family sized paddling pool in our first floor landing and a beach party to even naming each other family titles. The grumpy housemate was theGrandpa, for example.
THE FIRST NIGHT IS THE LONELIEST
When I moved in, I felt emotionally cold. I didn’t think much of it until later when all of the moving in had been done and all of my new housemates were locked up in their rooms. I put Muppet Treasure Island on and left the bedroom door open, just as the leaflets had told me to. I didn’t know until later that all of my housemates were actually crying.
They got over it by the next morning but be prepared that even if you’re ready for having fun, your housemates won’t be. Don’t blame them, they’ve never left home before.
BUT FAMILIES DRIFT AND MATURE
As you grow more accustomed to uni-life you will no longer have need of this new family unit. Any resentments between housemates will push you apart, and many friendships reveal themselves to just be made for convenience. Most third-years I know have only taken one if any old housemates with them through the whole three years.
Trust me, rubbish-towers are only fun for so long and partying will take the back-burner.
I forgot all of mine.
On a more serious note, this was because no one told me to. I was busy packing everything else that in the panic I left every pair except the ones on my feet. Save yourself the money.
THOSE LEAFLETS ARE USELESS
Well, not exactly. They help a little, but they hold an optimistic view of the world. Take their advice with a pinch of salt. Everyone may read them, but no one else will follow them word for word.
GET YOUR OWN STUFF
I went to university with no kitchen supplies besides a plate, bowl and cutlery. This was because all of those leaflets I had been using had told me to wait until I discussed it with my housemates. It claimed we could all share.
This is illogical considering we would all split up at the end of the year. Either way, it turned out all of my housemates had everything they needed when they moved in. I was left borrowing from them for a long time until I could get my own, which gave a poor first impression.
EACH YEAR IS A NEW CHAPTER
First year is free and easy. You have fun and maybe get a little work in so you can pass. First-time loans and bursaries means lots of clothes or computer games. By the end of every semester, you’re eating poorly – 50p tins of beans and no meat.
Second year you party less and get more involved in groups or sports. Your money goes on kit and alcohol. Your food is healthier and you try fad diets like they’re going out of fashion. Many students start to finally see the end of university and their future as a whole.
Third year? You drop that group you joined; you eat well (maybe a little too well) and you ultimately become more mature. It’s lonely in third year. Most people are working hard on their dissertations and have partners. University has lost most of its excitement and you either drop all of your uni hobbies, or start a whole list of new ones to pass the time between work.
If you’ve been to university, what tips would you like to offer? If you’re going this year, what questions do you need answered?