'Imagination will take you everywhere'
So I’ve survived a whole year at university. A whole year of living independently in the big smoke. For many this won’t seem like a big achievement but for me (a naïve country bumpkin) it is. I may not be particularly experienced to offer words of wisdom, but these are a few things I’ve learnt along the way…
1. You’ll miss things you previously took for granted – I had regular dreams about my mum’s cooking. I also missed the simple things like walking my dog and hearing birds sing (as opposed to traffic noise).
2. Loneliness – growing up with my twin sister constantly by my side, meant that living alone was probably the hardest part of university life. But learning how to live apart made us stronger as individuals. Plus she was only a Skype call away. Sometimes if you feel tired and can’t be bothered to make the effort to socialise, you can feel alone and isolated – trapped in the little box that is your bedroom . But you also learn a lot about yourself when living independently; I’ve discovered a knack for cooking (my flatmates may disagree).
3. It’s not all about partying – fresher’s week was a little disappointing, despite London’s supposedly amazing nightlife. It is the people you are with which determines a good night-out.
4. It’s not all about studying – most of it is but it is also very much about networking and building contacts. Many people say that it was the people they met at university who they then went on to work with/for in the future.
5. Procrastination is the enemy – I like to think that I’m a reasonably motivated student. But with an essay deadline looming or revision piling up, I found myself drawn into the dark underworld of meaningless procrastination. The usual offenders were Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and the dreaded Daily Mail side-bar of shame (it just sucks you in). But also cleaning my bathroom offered a productive alternative to getting on with work. And then that overwhelming sensation of guilt when you realise you haven’t got any further with that 3,000 word essay. So keeping motivated is essential.
6. ALWAYS back-up your work – this is a bit obvious, but one of my friends accidentally deleted her whole essay the night before the hand-in deadline – without a back-up. She then spent the whole night trying to remember what she wrote. Not good for the stress levels.
7. You meet a diverse range of people – coming from a rural village in Oxfordshire most of my friends were white and English. But now I know people from almost every corner of the globe; Pakistan, France, Norway, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Holland, China. This has given me a new perspective on these countries, as I’ve learnt things about their culture, politics and language, which is fascinating. (Also good for future foreign holidays).
8. Embrace every opportunity – and not everything costs money. A prime example of this is when my sister and I went to gawp at the red carpet of a film premiere in Leicester Square and ended up bagging free tickets to watch said film. We walked down the red carpet and got free chocolate, It was amazing.
9. Be spontaneous – sometimes the best night-outs, trips and discoveries are the last minute decisions.
10. Always look properly when crossing the road – another obvious one, but London traffic can not be trusted. It was something my mum always told me before I left, which was met with a roll of the eyes, but it is worth remembering. I had a too-close-for-comfort encounter with a cyclist who whizzed past me when I didn’t look properly down a side-street.
11. Money disappears into thin air – transport, night-outs, food shopping; no explanation needed. Learning how to keep within your budget is a valuable skill. Also learn to take full advantage of free food.
12. Finally, university is worth it. It’s worth the cost, the upheaval, and the hard work. The people you meet, the opportunities you get, the things you learn, will all outweigh the debt (that’s what I keep saying to myself).