When I started University, I honestly didn’t know what to expect, apart from what I had seen in movies. I don’t think any amount of advice could have prepared me for what my university experience was like.
I had so many wonderful experiences that I never would have expected, and I often wish I could go back and give myself the advice I clearly needed when I first started. So I did the next best thing, and wrote them here, and I hope they are as helpful as they would have been to me then!
1) Follow what you’re passionate about
In high school, when I mentioned that I wanted to get an international relations degree (an arts degree) I was told that I would never get a job with it, which is well meaning, if somewhat biased. But I am so glad I chose a path I was passionate about, I loved learning about IR and human rights, and it was great to expand my knowledge on something I was already interested in. In the long term, I am so grateful I was in lectures I loved, and I had a degree in a subject that I was passionate about and I have a chance in a career that I have interest in. I think it also taught me to believe in myself and what I wanted, I wish I had known how important it was to realise that its your life and you’re in charge of your life.
2) It’s Hard Work
This one pretty much goes without saying, but a lot of people don’t realise it straight away. The shift from a strict timetable, and being watched every step you take, to a timetable that is always changing, lecturers who don’t babysit you and subjects that are studied far more in depth than before. It feels really easy to miss the lectures, borrow notes and leave an important project until the night before. Once you miss a week of readings, it can be difficult to catch up again. The only advice I have is not to do that, start as you mean to go on. Diving head first into the work helps you to enjoy every single aspect of your life in university educationally and personally. The biggest lesson I learnt at university was that hard work will get you everywhere.
3) Organisation is key
As boring as it sounds, I found that organising my time was essential, and one of the most important skills in learning to be independent, and its still a work in progress for me!
‘Adulting’ is hard and being organised has helped me to experience everything I wanted to. It’s really easy to priorities to be skewed, and become overwhelmed instead of creating a flexible, adaptable work life balance. There are so many wonderful opportunities at university, and the only way to get what you need to get done is to plan. And it’s great in the long run, I am actually kind of ashamed that I reliant I am on my planner. It doest even just help with uni, but with personal life too!
4) Everyone is just as confused as you are
Everyone is nervous, everyone has no idea of how things work, and it’s new and scary for everyone. Everyone is terrified and confused, but it means that you can grow a support system from that, you’re not the only one going through this, and it means that you can go through it together.
5) Moving out of home is hard
When I first moved out of home, I was under the impression it was going to be like Friends, I would be best friends with my housemates, and be living it up in the city. I was wrong, my first housemates and I didn’t really get on and its hard to live it up in the city when you’re on a student budget. Especially if you have to work as well, it can be difficult to balance everything, and in my first couple of months living out of home, I pretty much survived on veggie burritos and iced tea. But as time went on, I got better at balancing everything and getting a routine together. I eventually moved into a house with people I loved and had a wonderful experience, but it was an important learning experience for me.
6) You will meet amazing people
This is clique and I know it, but the people that I met in university changed my life forever.You’ll meet lecturers who are just as passionate as you, you’ll meet friends who are a shoulder to cry on when things get too much and you’ll meet fellow students who push you to be a better version of yourself. If you’re finding it difficult to meet people though, try starting a team, or a hobby or a new job. You’ll soon find some new friends; it might just take a little more work. University is one of the most amazing experiences you’ll ever have and my one encompassing piece of advice is to enjoy it. Enjoy what you learn, enjoy meeting new people, enjoy being independent and most of all – enjoy your growth. I wish I’d known just how special those years would be and just how many friends I would make.
What do you wish you had known before starting university?