University can feel both overwhelming and liberating. Being flooded with letters and emails can be a bit much sometimes, but the thought of being able to stay up late and eat whatever you want seems to be worth it. But what most people don’t realise is that there are some parts of university life that get left out of the brochure.
You will feel lonely
While TV shows and adverts make it seem like all you’ll be doing is sitting on the grass with your multicultural friends, or partying way into the night, the reality can be much different. A new place, total independence, and distance from friends and family can make fresher’s week a bit gloomy. It can feel like everyone else has already found their BFF somehow, but the reality is that most people have still yet to discover themselves and the people that they would best get along with.
Try joining a society or becoming involved with your department to find people who share your key interests. And don’t rush yourself, a night out with people you don’t like isn’t worth it for a Snapchat story.
You’ll have a lot of work. I mean, a LOT
It sounds obvious, but you will be expected to study outside of class, a lot more than you would’ve in your previous schooling. You’ll hear the words “first year doesn’t count” as soon as you enter the SU, and although it may not contribute to your overall grade for a lot of people, the further reading you’ll be able to squeeze in is very helpful when it comes to class discussions and essay prep.
If this isn’t something you feel able to do, get a study buddy. They don’t have to be your best friend, but finding someone from a class or in your halls to hold you accountable for your study time can help motivate you when you really otherwise can’t be bothered.
University teachers can be your friends too
Before you go to university it is drilled into your head about how seriously you should take your work and maintain your professionalism. While this can be true, it is still likely that your teachers will turn up to class in jeans and go on a 20 minute rant about traffic or what brand of food their cat likes the most.
While this can be a little jarring at first, don’t be afraid to give back. This is not only a way to get to know your teacher better and make e-mailing them at 3am a little less weird, but that rapport may very well help you get a reference once you’ve finished.
More people will be after your forks than your wallet
Your cutlery will go missing. It’s a fact of life and a rite of passage for anyone living in residential halls.
No one knows where their spoons end up, and most of the time you can secretly blame that one neighbour who blasts their music just as you’re going off to sleep and make a special effort to try to avoid when you want to do the washing up. If it’s that big of an issue, either store your kitchen utensils in your room, or consider talking to your resident assistant.
You will feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you’re not)
FOMO (fear of missing out) can make you feel as though your life is lacking in all areas. It’s hard to see past the perfectly composed Instagram pictures and countless Tinder matches that seem to come so easily to everyone else. But like all social media, that is a small snapshot into someone’s life, so don’t feel guilty if you prefer staying in and getting an early night accompanied by your favourite TV show.
Trust in what you think is right for you. If you genuinely want to party every night, go for it, but that’s not all there is to uni life.
But regardless of this, university is an unforgettable experience where you can make forever friends and learn things about yourself that you would’ve never thought of. Just don’t take it too seriously and remind yourself of the important things (which isn’t how often you go clubbing).
Savanna Rayment is an MA, American Literatures Student at University of Essex.