Hi everyone, I hope you got the results you were aiming for and I look forward to welcoming some of you to The University of Manchester in September! In the meantime I’m sure you’ll be preparing for becoming an undergraduate student, possibly moving away from home and on to the next big step in your life. Sometimes it’s not as straightforward as buying a new duvet cover and an A4 notepad. There are some things you only learn once you’re here (and I don’t mean in your lectures)…
10 things every student realises in their first year at university
- no one knows you’re not cool
At school you may have had an embarrassing nickname, possibly from some ill advised fashion choice or an anecdote that everyone else finds hilarious but you just want to forget. No one you meet at uni will have heard that story! For all they know you’re the wittiest, most outgoing and gregarious person they’ve ever had the pleasure to meet, and there’s no one but you who can tell them otherwise. Maybe you secretly always thought that nickname-earning hat was fantastic? Someone at uni might too.
- you actually like your parents
I know when I left home I was rather excited to be able to do what I wanted, whenever and however I wanted. “See ya parents, I’m an adult now!” Except actually I quite missed them. They’re quite nice sometimes. Especially when I live in a different city and they can’t tell me to tidy my room anymore. Being a teenager at home can be really stressful, you feel like you’re battling your parents quite often; you think you can look after yourself but they just won’t let you. Moving out is lovely in that way, you gain the freedom to make your own decisions and take control of your own day to day life. It also means you have to cook and clean and wash your own clothes and it’s then that you appreciate how much your mum probably did for you and why she kind of nagged sometimes. Thanks mum!
- people can be super annoying
That plate has been in the sink for 4 days and it’s had time to go crusty and soggy and crusty again. Don’t people realise how disgusting they are? Well actually no, as you probably do things that annoy your flatmates just as much. Just borrowing a splash of milk for your tea, they won’t mind… Well, they might. You can make some great friends at uni, and the people you live with in first year can go on to be your housemates for years after but sometimes they can be really annoying. Why are they listening to house music at 2am? Oh you’ve brought your trumpet to uni with you? Erm, that was my shower gel actually. Why do you insist on vacuuming for an hour a day?! Everyone has different weird habits they don’t even know are annoying, it doesn’t mean they’re not great people. You’re probably annoying them just as much.
- you can relate to people you never thought you would
You and your friends from home are all really similar and into the same kind of music and are really just perfect for each other. Too bad they’re about to be scattered across the whole country. You may end up living with students from all over the world, all with different experiences and outlooks on life. It can be really interesting meeting types of people you’d never normally socialise with and who knows, they might introduce you to a hobby or type of music you love that you never imagined getting in to. Everyone makes friends with everyone in the first few weeks, and although you may not stay close friends for your entire degree, you can meet some amazing people you never thought you would.
- uni isn’t really like it is on TV
Not that I was expecting the American ‘college’ experience, but I watched a lot of TV and uni was always dorm rooms and montages consisting of strolling through quads with books under your arm on your way to see your professor. Well, I hate to break it to you but it’s not like that. It’s not like it is on some British TV programmes either (Hollyoaks, Fresh Meat…). TV shows a stylish and scripted version of uni, and although there may be some aspects that are similar (my house was probably as messy as the one in Fresh Meat at some points) some are way off (I’ve never strolled across a quad to see a professor).
- no amount of lists, blogs and buzzfeed articles can actually set you up for your own experience.
but I’m plodding along anyway.
- most people are actually really friendly
As I said before, everyone is friendly to everyone at the start of uni. The first people you meet may not be your lifelong friends but you’ve still got to make an effort, because they are. Be open to new things and nerve-wracking situations, like hanging out with a group of people you don’t know. None of you know each other! Be nice and they’ll be nice back.
- living on your own is harder than it looks
Sometimes, it can be really boring. Sometimes you might think “what am I doing with my life?!” Sometimes you just can’t be bothered to wash up. It can be easy to lose track of the bigger picture of studying to get a degree to get on with the rest of your life. Ring your parents. Go swimming. Read an incredible blog post. There’s always support available from uni, not just academic stuff but financial worries, careers help and pastoral care too.
- …but actually, it’s quite fun.
I love my friends, we have some hilarious times together, my course is interesting and I like my part time job. Going to uni has allowed me to do stuff and have experiences I never would have had opportunity for if I’d have gone straight into work after college.
The almost-derelict hovel I lived in in second year actually makes for some really funny stories now.
10. This growing up thing isn’t that hard
First year may not be academically the most demanding year, but socially and personally it can be quite tough. You can prove that you’re able to look after yourself and function as an effective human being (or just about).
Remember, don’t worry if you have no idea what you’re doing, because no one else does either.