I’m now coming towards the end of my first year at university as a psychology student, so I wanted to share the things that I’ve learnt! I’ve lived in university ‘halls’ since September, where I share a flat with three other girls- one other first year, a second year, and a postgraduate student. We have two bathrooms, one is an accessible wet room which is mine to share with the postgrad student (also a wheelchair user), and the other has a separate shower cubicle. Overall, our flat is nice. Considering we’re the second from bottom price wise, our building was done up several years ago and so looks modern, and we’re lucky in a way that we share with less than we usually would as there are two disability friendly rooms in our flat.
This year I’ve studied Psychology alongside a module called Explorations in Education, which has been interesting. It’s been hard work, and I’ve been stressed to the max recently with the majority of my deadlines happening at the same time, but in the grand scheme of things, I honestly think that this first year of university has been easier than my A-Level experience.
Anyway, here are the most important things I’ve taken away from this year of university:
- Nothing can prepare you for the university experience.
People will tell you varying things before you start university, how difficult/easy it will be, how many friends you’ll make, how it’ll be the best year of your life etc. The thing about university is that it’s an incredibly personal experience. I for one have gone the whole year without going out and getting drunk (apart from my mum’s 60th birthday party where I drank farrrrrr too much wine, but that’s just sad), or even going out at all. I also think that it was incredibly difficult for me and my flatmate Tayla as we were the only first years we really knew on a personal level at all. I think had we both been placed in a flat with 4 or 6 other first years, our experience might have been different.
2. Learning to live with other people is an experience.
Again, many people will tell you that your flatmates will become like family. And it’s true for some people, of course! Even for me (and I hope it’s reciprocated), Tayla has become an extended member of my family, so much so that we’re hoping to continue to live together. However, again when you live with second years, and with someone who has a million and one commitments like our flatmate Carwen (I’ve never seen anyone work so hard in my damn life), it’s difficult to form strong bonds. Other ways you have to learn to live together is when things happen like your flatmate using the last bit of toilet roll, someone not emptying the bin, someone spilling food on the work surfaces and not cleaning it up… the list is endless. However, I’m always asked how much food I’ve had stolen whilst at uni. The answer to this is basically nothing! Me and Tayla seem to have this relationship where we text each other to ask if we can use something, but even without waiting for the reply we take it anyway. But apart from that, we don’t steal food or drink (Don’t get any ideas now Tayla, I know you’re reading this).
3. University is a different way of learning.
If I hadn’t have had to teach myself throughout my GCSE’s and A-Levels after attending a college that was in the process of being shut down, I’d have found the teaching at university really odd. I know a few people who’ve come straight from a sixth form that have struggled so much because they’re used to being given their textbooks, worksheets and assignment walk throughs by their teachers. You get to university and your lectures consist of an ex-student who’s still trying to conduct research on you because you’re a ‘convenience sample’ and they then read off a PowerPoint for the next couple of hours. After that, they tell you about your assignment a month or so before the due date, and tell you all the information is online. Off you go! If you have very little self-motivation, university is going to be tough, especially when you’re on a course like mine where the attendance isn’t monitored!
4. Your student loan is easy to blow.
It doesn’t matter how much student loan you’re entitled to, it’s easy to spend it VERY quickly. Trust me, when you see a comma in your bank balance, you feel like you’re the richest person in the world- especially if you’ve never seen money like that before (which I hadn’t)! So many people make the mistake of buying everything in freshers week, or blowing it all on alcohol. The thing to remember is that whilst that seems like a lot of money, your rent still has to come out (that was half of my student loan gone) and then you’ve got to feed and clothe yourself, wash your clothes and buy the textbooks that they inevitably didn’t tell you you needed when you first started. HOWEVER, if you budget carefully, you can manage without your overdraft! So many people told me when I first started that I would have no choice but to use my overdraft during my first year, but I’ve actually managed to save money!
So those are just a couple of important things I’ve learnt at uni this year, apart from things like making sure you take your bins out before they start to leak, ordering your food shop to your flat to save you getting on the bus laden with bags, and not bringing too much kitchenware- because let me tell you, you never need three saucepans.