The things you’re never told about when you start university

After meeting with my Senior Section group last night and being asked about how university is going, it got me thinking about the things that I wish I’d have been told when I first moved into uni in September. When you attend open days, issues are always skirted over because they’re worried they’re going to put you off. However, I think that had someone been totally honest with me, I’d have felt much more prepared. So here’s the things that made the list.

  1. You will be tired. It doesn’t matter what you do, it will eventually catch up on you. Not only have you got to do your work and complete your assignments, but you’ve also got to cook, clean, wash up, shop, put everything away, wash, dry- you’ve basically got to live as an adult. And no, it doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re in the midst of it, it feels like you’re drowning in work. In the beginning it’s a novelty, and you’re ready to receive your official adult badge, and then it hits you that this is your life now. It sounds so melodramatic, but if you’ve been there, you’ll understand it.
  2. Food shopping is hard. You quickly learn that you have to plan what you’re going to eat that week and plan accordingly. Because if you don’t (and I know from experience), you’ll end up with three pizzas, chicken because you’re going to make a stir fry, and then forget that you needed noodles and vegetables to go with it. In the beginning, you’ll also take for granted that you’ve got the basics like bread and milk, but you won’t unless you buy it- funnily enough. You’ve also got to lug your shopping back on the bus, in the pouring rain, in 5p plastic bags (lets face it, who remembers their bag for life?), unless you wise up to this and get it delivered to your flat by Mr Tesco.
  3. Be prepared to be sleep deprived. When I first moved to uni, I thought I’d be fine for sleep because I stay on top of my work load, I don’t really go out, and I don’t really drink. However, what I failed to factor into this is that not everyone is like me. I live in a small flat, so it’s incredibly quiet in the day, but the moment you hit about 10pm (when I’m ready for bed) the noise starts, and will continue until about 2am. I don’t know whether you get used to it in the end, or whether it’s because you’re just so damn tired that you physically can’t keep your eyes open a moment longer. If you live on the ground floor of your block, also be prepared that there’s always some prat that will bang your window at all hours, because that kind of thing must be bloody hilarious when you’re drunk- not so hilarious when you’re stone cold sober and desperate for some sleep.
  4. Your flatmates will take the mick out of your eating habits, and you will do the same. Even if you come from a similar area to them, eating habits vary MASSIVELY. However, eventually your habits merge and you’ll all be eating chicken goujons by the bucket load.
  5. Eduroam. The WiFi at most universities is Eduroam, and Jesus, if you want something reliable in your life, don’t turn to Eduroam. It lulls you into a false sense of security when you’re half way through you’re research, and then suddenly- BAM! You’ll be fighting to get it connected again for the next hour. It’s not all bad, obviously, but if you’re expecting the strongest WiFi connection to ever exist, you might want to lower your expectations slightly.
  6. You’ll be told that accommodation will do everything possible to make your life easier, including putting you in your first choice room, sorting out noise complaints- anything that’s a problem in accommodation. The reality of the situation is that accommodation will simply pass you on to someone else who may be able to help with the problem. They seem to be as difficult as physically possible, because that’s what every student wants to deal with when the spring in your bed has been sticking in your back all night. Prepare yourself for the fact that you might not get your first choice accommodation too. To be fair to the accommodation team, they have a lot of people to house and I’m sure they do try their best, but it’s incredibly frustrating when you’ve been essentially promised a certain room and then it’s changed at the last minute.
  7. It’s lonely. Regardless of what type of university life you lead, you will be lonely at some point. More so for me, as I don’t really drink and I can’t go to a club because of my wheelchair, but everyone will feel it. Sometimes you’ll be sat in your room, not wanting to do your work, with everyone you know in lectures, the food shop’s done, bathroom clean, you’re totally bored and all you can do is just sit and think (as much as you don’t want to admit it) about home. Obviously it depends on your home life, but I was used to being around my family 24/7, watching TV together, shopping together, and that’s something that I miss when I’m at uni.

So those are my seven top things I wish I’d have been told. I don’t for a second think that these are limited to the university I go to, I’m pretty sure that all university students, wherever they are, will experience these things at some point. For now, university is just one of those things that I’m having to go through. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever done, but I wouldn’t say that I truly enjoy university either. I know for a fact, however, that everyone does experience uni as whole differently. I know people that say that it was the best time in their lives, and they’d go back in an instant. On the other hand, I know people that had the worst time at university and you’d have to pay them a tuition fee to go. Despite this, I do think that uni is something that everyone should experience if they want to. If you never try, you’ll never know!

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