Monday, 22 September 2014


Yeah yeah, it's that time of year. Four years ago I set off on my adventures to university. FOUR YEARS! I graduated last year, and still over a year later I find myself fondly reminiscing on an all too frequent basis. I can say with no caution that my time at uni was a resounding success - not to say there weren't some ups, some downs, and some wholly ludicrous mistakes on my part, but such is life's way. It's not always plain sailing though, nor is it always the right choice for people - but consider this my Buzzfeed-esque list of hopefully not all too patronising tips.

  • Be Prepared. It's a solid motto that's worked for the Scouts for over 100 years, and is perfectly applicable to university too. I'm not talking the "take cake for your new flatmates!" or "don't forget an extension lead!" kind of prepared - but on that note, do take a couple of extension leads. Useful as f*ck. But be prepared from the start - researching your course, your chosen unis, noting any UCAS deadlines, student finance deadlines, setting yourself up a student bank account. The boring stuff. Your first few weeks of uni will be much easier if you actually have that highly anticipated student loan sitting pretty in your bank account. 
  • Get a Job. Ok, this one is optional. But there aren't many courses which won't allow you the hours for a part time job - I only worked one 6 hour day a week, but that ~£40/week made a HUGE difference to my otherwise measly budget, allowing me a night out and a marginally better diet without any sense of guilt. See if your university has their own job centre, or ask if you can transfer your current job to a location near the university. 
  • Don't Fret Your Friendships. Will I like the people I live with? What about the people on my course? Classic frets of the fresher. Friendships come naturally and can't be forced, so don't shit bricks if your flat is full of dicks - I lived in the affectionately titled 'Shit Flat 10'. No, not wildly creative I suppose, but accurately descriptive nonetheless. I wound up with one very close friend in my flat, and one on my course. But there are plenty of other people I'm still very close to who I only met through others - so don't feel that your course and your flat are your only two sources of friendship. Moreover, I didn't truly get to know the people I consider my close friends now until late in to my second year. It's not that I didn't have friends through the first and early second years, but they're not the people who've made the biggest impact on my life. 
  • Listen to Your Gut. While you shouldn't necessarily let it hold you back, the gut it often right. I applied to university twice, and wound up retracting my first application just a couple of weeks before I due to leave home. I wasn't scared, but I didn't have the enthusiasm for the course I had applied for, and was entirely unprepared in every possible aspect. I applied again for a different course later in the month, and had myself a totally unplanned gap year. No, not a gap yah - zero travelling was done but a healthy lining to my bank account was earned, I had all my paperwork sorted in uncharacteristically good time, and I purchased myself more useless kitchen paraphernalia than you can shake a spatula at. By the time the next September rolled around, I was near bouncing off the walls with excitement. 
  • SAY YES! There's no time in life quite like university, so use it as an opportunity to say yes to new things - see a new band, go a new restaurant, visit a new country! Respect you bank balance and use your common sense, but you'll meet tonnes of new people with all manner of experiences to offer. At worst, you'll probably waste a small amount of your time and maybe a few quid, but I can bet that in the end you'll be glad you said yes.
  • DOWN IT FRESHER! Or don't. Yes, to this day I have not downed a dirty pint (nor a 'clean' one for that matter) because I literally do not possess the capacity to down drinks. This seems like a relatively minor point (pint?), but you will hear that statement more times than you care to remember. To expand, peer pressure can sometimes rear its ugly head in a massive way at university, so stick to your guns if you're not comfortable. Besides, downing pints definitely falls outside of my 'say yes' point; I can promise you that your university experience will not be damped by any lack of downing drinks. It'll probably be a little less vomit stained though.
  • Buy a Dressing Gown. Two words: FIRE. ALARMS. Not a myth, highly infuriating. At least you can stay cosy while you stand outside arms folded and frowny faced.
I suppose the gist here is not to feel under any pressure to meet the stereotype of a fresher. Embrace new opportunities, but don't feel like you have to persist with something which clearly isn't for you. Just be glad you tried. Don't try and change - spruce up the ol' wardrobe maybe, but you are who you are and there WILL be like-minded souls around, even if you don't find them immediately. Go in with an open mind and savour every minute, both the good and the bad. Your experiences at university will likely shape your as a person. But most of all, BLOODY ENJOY IT! There's nothing quite like it and hopefully it'll be an experience you look back fondly on for years to come.

Boring side note - the library is your friend. Get to know the library. Take a couple of hours out in the library. Find your favourite seat in the library (and the proceed to refuse to accept that you could possibly work ANYWHERE else, whatsoever). Semi-frequent interaction with the library will make your academic life so very much easier - just so long as you're not that guy who uses the time to indulge in the latest feature length film. Library space is precious; Don't be THAT GUY.

Back to beauty related antics next time, but for now - freshers, I hope you're loving EVERY GOD DAMN SECOND. I'm jealous. And I really miss my student loan.


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