For me, and I assume many other people, University wasn’t how I expected it to be. Most of my assumptions about Uni life came from movies, TV shows and YouTube vlogs. All I can really say is that they set the bar way too high.
Classes & Coursework
Extra-curricular activities who? Student Union and several million clubs what? I. Am. An. Introvert. I have social anxiety. No matter how many flyers and posters and emails I see assuring me that “everyone is super friendly” and “anyone is welcome”, I simply couldn’t make myself go to any of the New Members meetings. The idea of walking into a room full of strangers made me want to be sick – it still does. The fact that I had to do it on my first day of Uni as an introduction to my degree was bad enough. I wasn’t about to put myself through it for a second time.
Because of this, I spent a lot of time, and I mean a lot, cooped up in my room and wasting my time. Looking back, I can’t help but wish I’d started this blog sooner and kept uploading it regularly. I wish I’d focused more on my studies and cared less about what people thought (if I had done better in just one class, I would have gotten a first in my degree – I was two points off!). I did a Creative Writing degree, so obviously, creative writing was a big part of our grades. But up until my final year, I wrote generic little stories that I thought would impress people. And they might have done. But in the end, it didn’t matter. I’ll probably never see any of those people again, and the ones I do see, my best friends, know the things I want to write and support me wholeheartedly. I guess it’s safe to say I was embarrassed that I wanted to write about Science Fiction and people with superpowers, and I didn’t want people to think I was ‘that weird girl’, since I’d been stuck with that label since high school.
But in my final year, when I took a module that was literally called ‘Science Fiction and Fantasy’, I knew my time had come. And boy did I smash it. I got the best grades I’d ever gotten and, more importantly, I liked what I’d written. I was invested in it. Passionate about it. I wasn’t afraid to boast about it to people because I knew it was good, great even.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is: be yourself. For a lot of people, that’s easy. But for others, like me, I know it can seem difficult. My best friend writes fan fiction and she had kept it a secret from everyone in her life. But one week into our friendship, she told me about it. And I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Sure, I’d never had any interest in it, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from being friends with her. Recently she told me how happy she was that she had shared that part of her life with me and it made me realise that being yourself is the best way to go.
Also, studying isn’t as romantic as you might think. I envisioned sitting in a coffee shop with my friends, our textbooks out and laptops open, making pretty notes and drinking coffee. The first thing wrong about that image is that I hate coffee. The second is that friends distract you far too easily to be of any use when you’re trying to focus. Third, a good few of my friends travelled in from other cities and so weren’t available for late night study-sessions or impromptu meet-ups at coffee shops or the library. If you’re reading this before you start University, be prepared for some hard work, and be prepared to do it alone. But it’s true what they say; if you do the work as soon as you get it and keep on top of coursework each week, it’s easier than you’d think to get work done.
Some people love them. Some people make their best friends in the whole world there. All I can say is, it’s pot luck.
I hated it. I have no other words.
If you’re like me: socially awkward, don’t drink alcohol, relatively neat and tidy and shy – you’re probably screwed. I was put into a flat with four people who couldn’t have been more different.
I’m talking loud parties well into the morning hours, trying out new sex stuff through paper thin walls, bins over-flowing, drunk guys banging on your door at 4am asking for the boy who lives in the room opposite, people talking about you right outside your door because they don’t realise you’re in and so, so, so much more. Now, I’m not saying that this is the case for everyone. Some people get put with people they really get along with but unless your Halls or Dorms have a personality quiz that you have to take so you’re matched with people you’re similar to – don’t expect it to be like it is in the films. I was so intimidated by my flatmates that I practically stopped using the shared kitchen and snuck out as quietly as I could so I wouldn’t have to interact with them. I lived on a diet of crisps and pre-made sandwiches from the supermarket for a good few months. Not the best when you’re trying to keep focused for deadlines. Paying an extra £10 a week so that I had my own private bathroom was the best thing I did.
For the last two years of my Degree I lived by myself in a tiny studio flat and while it was expensive, it was so worth it. None of my friends from Uni wanted to move out/live with me – not that I asked (frick you anxiety and fear of being rejected) but we still had some amazing times, cramped into that tiny room and singing along to songs that will forever make us smile.
Now It’s All Over
This is the scary part. My classes ended a couple of months ago and this past week I got my official Degree grade. Some of my friends already have jobs. Others are like me and are in a state of limbo – not knowing which way to turn or what to do next. I want a full-time job – I know I’m not going to make it as a writer just yet, but it’s harder than you’d think. I thought a Degree was supposed to count for something, but most graduate schemes aren’t for students who’ve studied the arts. And all the other jobs that are advertised want people with experience.
Sometimes, when I’m having a bad day, I wonder if it was all worth it – me deciding to do a degree I knew I’d enjoy versus one I knew would get me a job. And it makes me sad that those thoughts are running through my head. But there’s nothing I can do about it now. I’ve met some amazing people – the best friends I’ve ever had in my life – and I wouldn’t swap them for a thing. I read an article about how blogging helped a woman called Milly Schmidt write more regularly and she said ‘I could pretend I had followers.‘ That’s what I’m going to do. I think it will help keep me sane in the hectic months to come.