So, some of you may have started Uni this year, or will be starting in a few weeks time.
I don’t want to necessarily share my whole opinion on what University was like. I don’t want to influence people on their life decisions, as we’re all different and we all have different experiences. However, I thought it’d be nice to tell you 20 lessons I learnt at University. Some of these will offer you advice, some will give you things to expect, and I’m sure some will give you a good laugh!
So, without further ado…here’s what I learnt at University:
1. Sticky notes are your best friend: You’re going to have tons of books to read, and you have to read them quickly. For the first two years I found that I would go to write an essay and completely forget what I’d been reading for the last few weeks. Save yourself the drama and stick notes on every helpful page of the books you read. Even write notes on the notes! It’ll save so much time and effort.
2. Hide your food if your house mates are getting drunk: Even if you tell them not to touch your food, if they come home drunk from a night out…they will. No doubt. Even I did it (sorry not sorry ex house mates). And you’re not allowed to get angry because, well, drunk food is great. And it’s your own fault for not hiding your chicken dippers.
3. 100% you will have to look after an overly drunk friend at least once: Most freshers are only 18, only just able to drink legally, and they still need to work out their limit. I’m sad to say that at least one night you’ll be stuck in the loo with sick on you whilst your friend says ‘I’m so sorry’ over and over again. Or trying to break up a fight. Or dealing with friends losing their phones. Or someone drunk crying about absolutely nothing. (ALL of these have happened to me) But it brings you closer to that person in a weird way. And they’ll be there for you when you go over your limit.
4. It’s okay to not be a party animal: I’m not a big drinker. In fact I really don’t like clubbing. If you’re the same as me, sadly you’ll have to deal with people telling you you’re boring, or trying to peer pressure you. It actually made my anxiety worse knowing that I was expected to go out and party every night. In fact, my friends never really peer pressured me, but it was such a ‘social norm’ to be a uni student and go out every night that I just felt pathetic and boring. But you honestly don’t have to. I felt so much better when I said no to the social norm of going out every night, and did what I wanted to do. In fact, I only went to house parties by the end of Uni. And it was totally not boring.
This also goes hand in hand with drugs and sex – never ever feel peer pressured to do anything you don’t want to. And if you do decide to delve into that lifestyle – keep safe and smart. Put a condom on, and remember that even weed is addictive, let alone other drugs you’ll come across whilst at Uni.
5. Double Christmas’s are the best thing ever: Going home for Christmas is so good. Food, family, festivities, friends you haven’t seen for months. But there’s also the Uni Christmas. Every year, no matter who I lived with, we would decorate the house with decorations from Pound Land and create our own Christmas dinner. And secret Santa, of course! Two Christmas’…what more can you ask for?! I’m actually tempted to visit some uni friends in December now…
6. On the subject of Christmas…food vouchers and every day necessities will be like gold: You know when you get deodorant and stationary etc. in your stocking? When you’re at Uni these things will really excite you. Like, really. I remember I got a £20 Sainsbury’s voucher and spent it all on meat. It meant that my food shopping was really cheap for weeks, and I could spend the money on other things!
7. You’ll miss your house mates when you leave: I miss mine so much. If I could do it all again in my second and third years then I would. There’s always at least one person up at 2am to talk to, someone to always hang with, someone to always bed share with if you felt homesick or sad. People to drive around with (and annoyingly call shotgun every time – Lucy I know you’re reading this), to cook with, watch films with etc etc. It’s completely different to living with your parents or living with a partner, and it’s a very special experience to have. Sometimes things go wrong and there’s arguments and tension, but in my humble opinion it was an experience I’ll always love and never forget.
8. Don’t forget the chores: Please don’t. Second year we kept forgetting when bin day was, which meant our bin was over flowing pretty much 80% of the time.
We would then have to stuff our bin bags in our neighbours bins. Similarly, when I went to clean the house at the end of our tenancy I found hundred of spiders eggs. Yuck. Keep up with your cleaning and it won’t be such a hassle at the end.
9. Dettol and Mr Muscle do great mould cleaners: No matter how much cleaning you do, most students get mould in their house. These ones are seriously great, a few sprays, a little wait and bam! Gone.
10. Grocery stores are ridiculously cheap (compared to Waitrose anyway): I saved so much money by buying fresh produce from my local grocery store. I would buy meat and condiments at the supermarket, and then buy every thing else there. Damn tastier too! Try and find a good grocery store near you.
11. 7pm onwards is prime time at supermarkets: Ahh, the out of date section. All supermarkets have a time that they put food that is almost at its expiry date at a much cheaper price. It’s like a goldmine. Buy all of the meat that’s going off tomorrow and it can be frozen for another week. Or buy a 50p lunch. Or y’know…cheap desserts.
12. Lecturers aren’t out there to get you: Sometimes they seem a bit scary. And isn’t it weird calling them by their first names? But they are always there to lend a hand. Whenever we got a new assignment I would make an appointment with the appropriate lecturer and talk it through, and it was such a big help.
13. Buy earplugs/silent headphones: Unless you want to hear all the sex, drinks and rock ‘n’ roll going on in your house/street (I wish I was joking), you’re going to need these. Student house walls are pretty thin.
14. It’s fun to cook with others: Sometimes making your singleton dinner day in day out gets a bit boring. Which means you start buying oven food to just chuck in (Which isn’t bad! I just personally don’t like oven food much unless it’s pizza) So, set up a cooking date with your friends! Buy the ingredients together, stick on some music, and then cook and eat. Thankfully one of my house mates was a professional chef, so that was always good. She even made sprouts taste good…SPROUTS!
15. It can get lonely: Living situations at Uni are great when you live with the right people. However, even if you have a house full of 10 best friends there will come a time when you feel lonely. I never lived with anyone on my course, and so when I had to shut myself in my room to work it felt very lonely. Or when everyone goes home and you’re by yourself. Or if you’re like me and you’re one of the only ones who doesn’t like clubbing. But over time I got used to being alone every now and then, and it got easier. Remember that you’re never truly alone, and there’s always someone at the end of the phone.
16. There’s a chance you might still be lost when you finish: I was kinda hoping my course would lead me to a career path. Maybe even a slight idea? But no. I still have no clue! But don’t fret, you’re still only young, and most jobs only look for a degree rather than a specific one. Don’t spend your last few months worrying, enjoy only having to study while it lasts!
17. Hide things you don’t want to be seen: Especially in second year when people start to view your house. Let’s just say we had a naughty inflatable house mascot and we forgot to hide it…cue roars of laughter from the viewers AND the estate agent.
18. There’s chores you’ve never even considered before: Having to plunge the toilet was a particularly grim experience. Also, I never thought to clean ceilings (which is where most of your mould will go to FYI), and how the hell do you defrost a freezer?!
19. It’s incredibly easy to make friends: One of the scariest things for me before starting uni was making friends. I’m still pretty shy now, but I was a whole lot quieter three years ago, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to talk to anyone. But it seems at uni (especially during Freshers), pretty much everyone is friendly and pretty much everyone will talk to you. Yes, there are cliques that won’t talk to people, but they’re missing out, honestly. Within the first two weeks I made some amazing friends, but still continued to do so during the whole three years of my time there. Even in the last month! You’ll never be truly alone, I promise.
20. Just remember the good times: I had some hard times at Uni. Everyone does. But you’ll have hard times during all your life, and it’s essential to remember the positives, and learn from the negatives. I’ll be remembering the tears from the fits of laughter I had, how safe and homely I felt when I was around my housemates, learning just how important the people at home really were, learning to look after myself and eat healthily, the parties, the sleepovers, the deep conversations and the lighter ones. The car rides and the Christmas market, the meals out and cooking with others, the feeling of handing in my dissertation, learning more than I ever thought possible. The positives are endless. And it’s something that’ll always be in my heart.
So there we go, 20 things I learnt at University. If you are going to University, I hope you have the best time of your life. If you’re not, some of these will fit in to your life, and I hope you have the best time too! Any decision you make is a good one.
Is anyone reading this a recent graduate? Any lessons you learnt at Uni?