We’re expected to know what we want from life, that University is the next step. That University is the ‘best time of your life!’ An expectation that most of us fall for, including myself.
I applied for University three weeks before classes started. I switched courses two days into the first semester. Nobody told me the amount of doubt and uncertainty I’d feel. I was expecting excitement, new friends, parties, and who knows? A boyfriend? Nah who am I kidding…
In reality though, nobody told me the full story of University.
There are things I wish people spoke about when it came to enrolling. The side to it that maybe isn’t as amazing as they say. If you’re about to start University don’t feel put off, these are just the things I wish I knew I’d go through:
Feeling out of your depth
AKA the dreaded Imposter Syndrome. Feeling like you aren’t smart enough, that you’re actually a fraud. I remember sitting in my History of Communications class listening to my lecturer talk about Greek philosophy thinking, “was I supposed to know this?” because everyone seemed to understand but me.
I had lingering self doubts and anxiety that my entire career in Journalism was set up for failure because I didn’t know who Aristotle was. I felt completely and utterly clueless.
What helped me with feeling like I was out of my depth was talking. I talked to my course mates and embarrassingly, I cried to my lecturer in his office. Poor guy just wanted his afternoon coffee break.
But in doing so, he explained things I didn’t understand to me and offered guidance with my essay. Yes, I had to put more work into research to understand what was going on, but I was more than capable of pushing past these feelings and so are you.
Going from sixth form to University is a big jump, there will be things you don’t know that lecturers may assume you do, but that doesn’t make your space on that course any less valuable.
It can be lonely
I wish more people talked about the reality of loneliness. For those who commute and don’t live in halls, this might be something you might find hard in first year. I went from having a tight knit friendship group who I saw every day, to walking around campus alone.
I didn’t expect to struggle with making friends or finding myself sat on a tram crying (not my best look) because I felt so alone. Most students make friends with their flatmates, and I lived at home. So I thought I had missed out on the only chance to make friends.
But it just wasn’t the case, those first weeks you’re finding your steps and friendships aren’t reserved for those who moved away. You can meet people at any stage by joining societies, volunteering, and your coursemates. Everyone is in the same boat, they just want to fit in and belong, so a lot of people are open to friendships!
Now, as a second year student, I don’t feel as lonely. I made friends on my course and through volunteering. I promised myself if I wanted to enjoy my time, I’d put myself out there.
In sixth form, my teachers were completely on my back. ‘Where’s your essay?’ ‘You’ll fail if you don’t attend my very worthwhile class about the difference between a verb and an adverb.’ The typical teacher threats. However at University, you’re riding solo. Miss a seminar? Not your lecturers problem. Didn’t do the reading? Your problem.
Your lecturers can only help you as much as you’re willing to help yourself. It’s very easy to fall into a routine of skipping classes because you can. However, trust me when I say it comes back round to bite you. I wish I had prepared for the amount of independence I’d need for University, but it became something I learnt on the go.
You will fancy one of your flatmates
I have seen too many of my friends get feelings for their flatmates and it not ending well, so just please. Don’t do it. You’ll thank yourself in the future.
As hard as I found it within the first couple of weeks, those feelings passed. Everyone’s experience of University is different but still valid. It’s nerve wracking, scary and full of excitement all wrapped in a bow. If you’re having a hard time dealing with these things, stick it out. University gave me a lot more confidence to talk to people and do things I would have been too scared to do.