Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Being a Fresher

As I enter my second month of being 24, I'm starkly reminded (thanks to Facebook's 'On This Day') of the fact that it's been 6 years since I began my university journey.

I understand that university isn't for everyone.

But, I can't quite believe that 6 years ago, at the tender age of 18, I was just about to start university. I was about to move out of my comfortable family home and little did I know, begin a phase of my life that would 100% change me.

I was told many things and given a lot of advice about university and being a fresher but in all honesty, nothing can prepare you for the first few months of it. I'm probably about to tell you things you already know but there are a few things I wanted to share anyway.

You're more often than not told to work hard, play harder. Cliche. But true. You will never get your university days back and especially the feeling of being a first year and fresher to be exact. I'd recommend making the most of being fresher. I know a lot of uni lecturers won't want me saying this but first year is one of the easiest years you will do. So, I'm not saying don't take your degree seriously, please do - once you mess it up, there's no going back - but you definitely have more time in first year to enjoy yourself. So use that time!

Go out. Join a club or society. Go to the weekly pub quizzes. Go on random trips to other cities. Do as much as you can. (within reason and responsibly)

Putting yourself out there is what the uni journey is about. Before starting university, I was the little shy kid who stayed in my comfort zone, was scared to go up to someone and start a conversation and didn't enjoy being put in situations where I had to meet new people. University changed all of that.

I began to feel more comfortable and my confidence grew massively.

Contradicting what I've just said, you can say no. Don't feel like you have to do everything. If you want a night in while everyone else is going out, you can say that. It doesn't make you boring. You might think you have to be out every night but you can definitely enjoy a night in with a takeaway and movie. Knowing your boundaries isn't a bad thing and definitely doesn't make you a boring person!

Meeting new people is another big part of the experience. As someone who suffered with a small amount of anxiety about meeting new people, this wasn't easy. I've always been one of those people that prefers to have a small group of very close friends rather than heaps upon heaps of wider friends. Don't get me wrong, I now have a lot of friends but I still have that close of people around me.

Maybe friends is something I'd have done a little different at university. What I do know is that I came out of the university experience with the people around me that I intend to keep around me, and that's something I'd say to any fresher. Pick your group of immediate friends wisely. They'll be the ones you make the memories with. They'll be the ones you laugh with until it hurts. They'll be the ones you go through the downs with, and if you pick them well they'll be there after it all ends too.

You might also be told to have no regrets. A lot easier said than done. However, make the most of everything. Do the things you wouldn't normally do and make those memories.

As a human being, there will also be moments when you make mistakes. These are also part of your journey, just try to take something away from them, no matter how small.

My biggest piece of advice is to just be yourself. You're not going to get along with everyone but as long as you are you, you'll find that group of people you do get along with.

In so many ways, being a fresher and university will (and won't) set you up for the working world. The experience will teach you to grow up faster than you think, teach you to take responsibility, teach you to to compromise, teach you to be organised. (All of which I know can also be learnt by not going to university.)

What I'm saying is, as a fresher you have a great 3, 4 or 5 years ahead of you, don't take them for granted. Be yourself and your own person and probably most importantly, don't compare your journey or story to someone else's. As long as you're having fun (responsibly), the experience is your oyster.

To anyone who has just started university; enjoy! Soon you'll be like me, 24 and getting old, sitting in a coffee shop, watching the freshers and university students go by, reminiscing about the days when that was you.

Have fun!

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