A couple of my younger friends from school are currently applying to universities for when they finish in the summer and I have found myself being asked what it’s like to start going to university. The honest truth of it is that it’s a huge change in your life and forces you to adapt to a lot but with the right choices it can be the best thing you’ve ever done. I have just finished the first semester of my second year and I am very happy with the choices I made to come to Edinburgh Napier and to study Festival & Event and Marketing Management. Here are some of my insights to how uni changes your life:
So the first and most obvious change, whether you move miles away from home or go to your nearest university, you are gonna be forced to starting adulting. Suddenly you are responsible for your weekly shop, cooking your meals, washing your clothes and maybe even ironing if you’re feeling fancy. These sometimes tedious steps might initially seem like something you can squeeze around by getting JustEat and Pot Noodles but trust me, that kind of lifestyle will make you feel like crap. My advice is Google for simple recipes and if you need to save cash on your shop, vegetables are super cheap and if you make a huge pot of soup that can last you a while (especially if you freeze some portions) and it’s healthy – for three great and easy soup recipes, click here. As for clothes, unlikley you’re going to iron unless you have a job that needs you to (pristine work shirts are a weekly chore) but just ask your mum what settings to use and remember to separate your lights, colours and darks or you’ll just ruin your clothes.
Self motivation is the challenge
When you are in school and applying for uni you’re constantly told that uni is such a step up and you’re gonna have to work so much harder etc. etc. While in a way this is true, it’s kind of different than you expect. A bit change that seemed to make things easier is that you are in university a lot less than you were in school, going from 30+ hours a week to a lot less (dependant on what you study) feels very strange. I would say that the actual work you study is not a huge leap away from Highers and Advanced Highers but the thing that makes it a bit more difficult than school is that it is totally up to you whether you show up to classes or try hard on your assignments, your lecturers and tutors are unlikely to chase you up about these things because they really do not care. Their job is to teach the people who show up, not babysit those who don’t care. It’s easy to just ignore your classes if you’re tired or can’t be bothered but if you do that, what is the point in going to uni?
The sad part about leaving school is that you don’t see the same people all day every day. Even at uni, your coursemates might be in different tutorials from you so it’s important to know plenty of people at uni if you don’t want to be sitting alone in a lecture. The real challenge is having to work so much harder to stay in touch with your friends that you don’t see every day. I think that’s another element of adult life that is pretty rubbish. It can sometimes be all to easy to get all caught up in the little world that makes up your life and you can sometimes go way too long without speaking to people that you really love. You need to work hard to stay in touch otherwise I can be all too easy to lose important friends.
As much as we all love our parents, university finally gives you the freedom to do anything you want! No one, other than yourself, to tell you to do the chores or what to eat or how late you can trot back home after a night out. This can be amazing, especially for those who have quite strict parents and I suppose that’s why people always say that you “find yourself” at uni, not that anyone knows what that means. My advice here is allow yourself to have fun because once we’re real adults you might not have the time. But don’t forget that the whole reason you’re there is primarily to study. And remember, you do not have to be a typical student. There is a huge idea that students are supposed to want to go out every night and drink excessively and if you like that, go ahead, but don’t worry if Freshers week isn’t the highlight of your life. There’s nothing wrong with going home early to cuddle up and watch a film.
Get involved and find your people
Yes, you will meet people in your class and you might meet people you like in your accommodation but the best thing for you to do is find a sport of society that suits you and join it. You can find so many like-minded people who you can spend time with every week whilst doing what you love and as well as that you’ll also have fun socials to go to with your group. It can help you fill out the extra time you have and will reduce the possibility of uni loneliness, keep yourself busy! Literally all of my uni highlights so far have been things that I’ve done with Napier Dance and my best friends down here are my fellow dancers.
Studying is great if you love what you do
Realistically, if you’ve applied for university then you should want to learn and if you’re studying a subject that really floats your boat you should have the time of your life. If not, most universities make it quite easy for you to switch courses once you’re there which could help you find the right thing for you. I personally love my course and have a preference for the marketing side of things because the psychology, consumer behaviour side of things actually fascinates me. Make sure you love what you’re doing or that whole self motivation thing will be pretty hard.