I have officially survived my first semester at University, and survived three weeks at home (which was a lot harder than I expected it to be). In celebration of passing all of my courses, here are some lessons I have learned about being a first year Uni student over the past six months.
Lectures are technically voluntary but you probably should attend
I will confess that I skipped a majority of one of my English lectures. The Monday lectures clashed with my internships, and the Wednesday lectures often clashed with Media Society events, or were boring, or I was just a terrible student. I managed to scrape a mark one point off a distinction in that class. But that’s not okay.
While at my Uni, in big lectures they have no way of telling if you’re there, I’d highly recommend actually, you know, showing up. You can tell yourself that you’ll listen to the recording online, but take it from me, if you can’t be bothered actually going to the class, you definitely won’t make the effort to catch up online. If there’s one thing more boring than a dull lecture, it’s listening to a dull lecture in your room when you have a million better things to be doing.
It’s okay to not go out
I think I am the only Uni student who successfully completed a semester of University without once going out.
There’s a lot of pressure in Uni (especially in colleges) to go out and get drunk numerous times a week. If you’re anything like me, and could think of nothing worse than going to the pub/nightclub numerous times a week, this can be unsettling.
But it’s perfectly okay to say no. It’s fine to stay in your room on a Saturday night if that’s what you feel like. It’s acceptable to make excuses when you get invited. Because Uni is about having fun, and fun doesn’t include being put out of your comfort zone.
I’ve had people tell me I’m missing out on making friends by not going out, and maybe I am missing out on meeting people. But my personality generally means I would not be inclined to become BFFs with someone who likes to party – I’m way too socially anxious/awkward for that. I’ve made friends in my own corner of the world, and you will too. You can, and will, make friends without the presence of alcohol, so never feel pressured to go out.
But if parties and alcohol are your thing, I hear Uni parties are awesome, so go have fun!
It’s okay if you don’t meet your BFF on the first day of classes (or even in the first semester)
One of the things I hate most about University-centered movies is that the main character always seems to meet their BFF on the very first day they are one campus.
Outside of college (where it took me over a month to learn everyone’s names, and closer to two months to find close friends – and I live there), it took me a very long time to actually meet people in my course. Because most people aren’t there to make friends. They’re there to go to lectures and tutes and leave as quickly as possible. I was lucky in that I did work experience last year with a girl who ended up in my course, and that the daughter of my mum’s uni housemate also ended up in my course. I knew two people before going in. But that didn’t mean we were instantly BFFs, or even saw each other every day. It was (is) always a relief when I see them in classes, but a majority of the time I (and 99% of people) sit by myself in lectures and tutes (especially tutes). I’ve gradually begun to meet people, but it’s a slow process.
If you see people in tight-knit groups on campus, I’ll let you in on a secret: chances are they went to high school together. It’s really, really rare to find a close group of friends who have just met at Uni and live nowhere near each other/having nothing to do with each other outside of classes.
So, if you find yourself friendless at Uni, just remember you are not alone, and friendships will come your way if you give it time (oh, and remember Beca from Pitch Perfect didn’t make any friends for at least a month when she moved to college, although she did have Jesse so I don’t know if we can count her).
Ps get degrees (but you feel awesome when you get a D)
The apparent motto of the Arts faculty (well, at least the student part of it) is “Ps Get Degrees”. As in, you only need to get a Pass on everything to get your degree at the end of your three (or four, or five) years at Uni. I have often found myself chanting that motto as I’ve struggled to finish an essay, or frantically studied for an exam. When tutors have handed back marks, I’ve had my fingers crossed to just see a 50 at the top of the page. This is a far cry from high school where I would cry if I got less than 90% and loudly declare that my life was OVER. Ah, naivety.
I’ve been lucky in that my (not very) hard work has paid off, and I got through the semester with high range Credits and Distinctions. And even though I would have been happy just to pass, I was pretty ecstatic every time I scraped a Distinction (and extremely ecstatic when I got overall Distinctions in two of my four courses).
So it’s true that you only need a P to get through Uni (and *ahem* my dad is living proof of that), but sometimes that little bit of extra work is worth it when you totally ace an assignment.
When you go home, everyone will have changed, but that’s okay, because you will too
Coming back home (or, if you didn’t leave, having other people come home) after being away at University can be a little jarring. Because while you’ve been gone, you’ve changed in a million different ways that weren’t always obvious to you, but once you’re put against the backdrop of everything you used to be, it’s suddenly impossible to not notice them. As this fic reviewer wrote:
What I particularly like about this fic is its accurate representation of college life in terms of how the characters change in subtle ways, so that when they go back home they don’t quite fit the way they used to.
You’re going to go home and everyone will have changed in all these different ways, and it’s weird. You expected everyone to have stayed the same, a kind of freeze-frame awaiting your return. But just as you’ve been changing and developing and meeting new people, everyone you left behind has been moving on with their lives, too.
So maybe your friendship group is a little awkward, and it’s not quite like you left it, but change is a huge part of life. You can’t stop it, so the best thing to do is embrace it.
It’s okay to be conflicted about going back to Uni
I head back to Uni in a week and a half. One on hand, I’m really excited. I can’t wait to get back to my internship, and my friends, and to start a new semester of classes (I may or may not be lying about that last one). But on the other hand, I’ve got back into a comfortable routine at home. Having mum around to cook, having access to a car, and a TV, and wifi…going back to Uni and being removed from the comforts of home is never easy.
Plus, I will have had a month of doing nothing but lounging around watching Supernatural and Teen Wolf, so the idea of jumping back into lectures and tutorials is less than appealing.
But once you get back into the swing of Uni life, the thought of heading home again next break will be a little disappointing. You’ll have to say goodbye to the independence, the convenience, the people…
Both places have their pros and cons, and all you can do is enjoy each while you have them.
frangipani princess xoxo