Wow that went quick, I’m already halfway through my summer off from university and I’ll be a second year student at the end of September – I still feel like a baby in this new world :’)
However after a year, I’ve gathered my own thoughts and opinions and want to shed some light on how I feel and how there are so many stereotypes and ‘expectations’ that do not need to be followed.
This all features a few scenic snaps from my first ever trip to Japan – since I didn’t want to leave this post without imagery.
This is a very ramble-y personal post but if you’re interested in posts about university life or my life in general then here you are:
I fall into the small group of students who don’t live on campus, or in fact even in my university city! I opted to commute to university, ultimately so I could live life the way I wish to and to save heaps of £££. I’m not saying those who chose to live at university don’t live life freely, but for me personally staying at home was the better option and I’ll explain why soon. I chose to study History due to the fact that I adore learning about the world and how humans have lived. I know that sounds odd worded like that but that’s why I adore travelling, politics and have enjoyed Geography and History at school. I was and still am actively learning about how the planet is the way it is, how people’s lives are affected by various events and various governance – and by studying History I get to see how all of this has changed over the centuries. My favourite area of History is 20th Century Political History – mainly because it was fairly recent, people I know have lived throughout that century and so many events in that century still deeply affect politics and life today. How does this relate to my university experience? University and studying History enables me to explore this with my own approach. My degree is fairly flexible in the sense that I will learn about a certain era, but the area of that era I study is up to myself. The best part? I’m enjoying it and eventually it will lead to getting a degree – something that is vital for my future career. My time here also enables me to be more flexible with my working week, I now am able to volunteer with two organisations. They not only suit me up with some good skills, but I thoroughly enjoy it. I’ve also met so many lovely people and made a good close friend who I’ll be travelling to Japan with September. To think you can only know someone for a few months but get on so well and enjoy travelling together, university brings like-minded people together. As you can see I’m really enjoying myself, spending my days in Cambridge, studying what I love and having a blast. But whenever I say ‘I commute’, people always doubt my happiness…which goes onto my point regarding stereotypes and expectations.
There are no rules regarding how you live your university life
Many say I am deeply missing out by not living on campus or in Cambridge. I’m missing the nightlife, the city experience, the independence and especially the maturity that you gain from it. Well, university is what you make from it. Not everyone is the same. Personally, the nightlife doesn’t bother me, I’m a soberite and would much rather spend my money on travelling and fun activities than nights out! Secondly I explore the city all the time, I’m there for both university and volunteering with the local city council. I also tend to socialise in Cambridge more than my local town of Stevenage, realistically one is more attractive than the other :’) . Thirdly I don’t believe I would gain any extra independence or maturity from living away from home. I already work three jobs, I’ve already helped run the household since I was 11 and I’ve travelled without my parents on many occasions. Personally, I believe travelling all the way to destinations like Japan, financing it all, knowing where to go and making the trip a success surely suits and boots me with many of the skills you’d get from living alone? By staying at home I’ve also got a part time job, two volunteering roles, the opportunity to travel and all of my friends and family by my side. I’m especially close with my family and love spending time with them. My point is, you do you, you do not have to follow the ‘university formula’ to have a great time. If you’re thinking about university and you’re debating whether to move away or go local, honestly think about what’s best for you. Do not be pressured by other people to go to a certain university, do a certain course or live your life a certain way. In the end…you’ll only be disappointed, will possibly regret going to university in the first place, and maybe even drop out. Which leads onto not having expectations.
Do not have expectations. I repeat…DO NOT HAVE EXPECTATIONS. Although I believe those who genuinely want to go to university will enjoy it, don’t expect everything to be perfect. Don’t expect freshers to be the most amazing week of your life. Don’t expect to make a huge group of friends who are perfect in the first week that you’ll still love at the end of the year. Don’t expect it to be super easy or super difficult. Don’t expect to have major homesickness or to be absolutely fine. University can throw anything at you, and your life is what you make it. I’m not saying those were the expectations I had, but I know many who had these expectations and they were both disappointed and surprised. Go ahead and watch university advice videos to your heart’s content, and ask people around you about their experience, but just remember everyones’ experience is different – especially if they all go to different universities and study different courses. For me especially, it got very hard for semester 2. My work/volunteering and university balance was so hard to manage, and to top it off I got severely ill. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as I still came out with a high 2.1 and was happy with my first year overall. University can throw curveballs at you, so just be prepared for anything and everything.
Do you even need to go?
Now this is something that is obviously being debated by many – if you have the right qualifications to go to university, does that mean that you should definitely go? Absolutely not. I detest the way in which schools and colleges put pressure on students to go to university. I personally have always wanted to go and knew it was for me, but I don’t believe that everyone who has gone should be there. This isn’t because they lack the skills or personality needed for such an environment – it’s because the university environment and the degree gained may not be essential – and may actually hamper someone’s growth. A degree is not a golden ticket to whatever job you wish, it is a key that unlocks doors and aids you into getting the job of your choosing. Essentially I know many who are not enjoying themselves and are purely just grinding through to get the degree and that’s it. Long story short, you need more than a degree to get a job. You need character, experience and skills. If university isn’t helping develop and improve yourself – it’s pretty pointless. I’ve seen so many people gain great lives for themselves through other qualifications, apprenticeships and even just through working and progressing in their sector. But to answer the question, why have people succeeded in all these different ways? Hard work. To sum up, university can be great if it works for you and you simultaneously work for it – but it may not be for you, so do your research and find another way to grow. Just remember, not going to university does not mean you get an easy ride and can get to where you wanna be without hard work – it’s compulsory.
Do I personally regret anything?
Yes and no. I always sit here and wonder, did I pick the right subject? I adore politics and in fact for this year picked out a criminology/sociology/politics/history module that was eventually cancelled for history students *cries*. It was called ‘Culture of War’ and involved studying wars and their causes and impacts. One module studied the rise of terrorism. It seemed so interesting. Although I love my degree so much and feel as though I am good at history – maybe it wasn’t the ‘perfect’ choice. At times I feel as though I could put in so much dedication, heart and soul into a politics/criminology/sociology degree as it’s my passion to an extent. But…realistically would I be better off? I could equally feel exactly the same and wish I had done History. Basically, my university should have done a double honors degree for me…that’s why I also don’t have total regrets. Either way I would have wanted to do the ‘other course’ but still be simultaneously happy where I was.
There’s my little ramble and thoughts from first year – not sure if I’ll continue posts like these but I’m sure I will feature some more university posts when I return in September/October 🙂 I hope all of you young people reading this take time to realise that you only have one life – make it count <3