My Life

If I Knew Then

Hi, Hey, Hello!

It’s that time of year again when people are packing their lives up into cars and making the trip back to uni, or in a lot of peoples’ cases going for the first time.

In fact Timehop recently informed me that it has now been over 6 years since I made that trip for the first time (I went up like a week a 6 years ago if you wanna know way too much detail) and 4 years since I did it for the last time. It’s been over 3 years since I did it last for my graduation. And while part of me wouldn’t change anything that happened during the 3 years that I was at uni, because my gosh did they form me into the person that I am today, there are also some things that I wished I had known before I was thrown into the deep end.

1) The friends you make in your first year do not have to remain your friends

It is so easy to think that the friends you make in the first few weeks of uni are the ones that you have to keep for the rest of your time there…or the rest of your life. They aren’t. Those quick friendships are formed primarily because everyone is going through the same thing and are all borderline desperate to just not be alone and if you’re surrounded by people then you can’t be alone right? Come post-Christmas holidays you probably will have just drifted away from most of the people that you fused to in the first few weeks and that’s fine. It’s also mostly fine if you find yourself still drifting apart from them the longer you stay at uni. It can be hard to accept, especially because it seems to get increasingly harder to make friends the further into adulthood you get, but seriously you’re not going to get along with everyone forever. Uni is a time, or at least it was for me, where you really came into your own and figure things out, like what you’re passionate about and what you want to do with yourself. It’s a place where you change more than you thought was possible and not everyone you’ve become friends with is going to fit in with that. And it’s okay if you drift apart.

2) Your home friends might also drift away

That idea of drifting apart from people also applies to the friends that you left behind. Sometimes the only reason that you were friends with some people is because you spent 6 or something hours a day with them 5 days a week and then suddenly you stop spending all this time with them and are all living your own lives and having new experiences without each other. In some cases it makes the friendship stronger because when you see them again you have all these things to talk about and catch up on. And sometimes it means that you stop being friends with them and it’s hard but also that’s life.

3) Learn to budget

I am probably not alone in not knowing how to budget and then suddenly having to get it together and figure out to live your life properly with the money that you are now responsible for. I am still terrible at budgeting, although I like to think that I am getting better at it, but I wished I had learned how to do it earlier. I was a victim of impulse buying so often just because I knew that I had the money and it wouldn’t be too bad. It was terrible. It never spiralled out of control all that bad, but it could have been a lot better. Sit down and really think about your budget. Split it into essentials, any bills that you need to pay, miscellaneous things, have an emergency fund somewhere just in case something breaks and as a back-up should you somehow completely ruin your budgeting plan and find yourself with no money. “Consider these 5 steps” Earnest suggests on how to make a budget. Just be brutally honest with yourself and try to live within your means. It will one, save you so much stress, and two will help you cultivate a life skill that will sever you well later on in life.

4) Manage your time well

I have an English Literature degree, which means that I had at most 12 hours contact time per week. That left me with so much ‘free’ time. I mean I had books to read and essays to write and all that other stuff, but I also had a lot of time to hand. Compound that with the fact that I am a procrastinator? It was bad. Not catastrophic or anything. But bad. It meant that I wrote far too many essays in the early hours of the morning just before the deadline. It meant that I caused myself a lot of unnecessary stress and sort of caused myself into a meltdown at multiple points. And it was all just very unnecessary I have to tell you. Plan your time well. Even if you end up being one of those people who has every single minute of their day planned just to stay on top of things. If it works, then it works and that is all that matters. If it lessens your level of stress then it cannot be a bad thing. But seriously, do it, save yourself the stress.

5) Join things.

I made the mistake of not putting myself out there in my first year and have always regretted it on some level. Uni is pretty much the only time when you have all this time to do whatever the hell you want (within reason) and try so many new things and it’s kind of stupid to not take advantage of that. I planned to do it when I wandered around the Fresher’s Fair after my first week but then I just never got the courage to go out and do it. I joined one society in my second year and then dipped in and out of it for the rest of my uni life, but I wish I had taken greater advantage of the things available to me at the time. Even if it turned out I hated them, I just wish I had given them a shot because it would have been an experience that I cannot see being available to me now that I am out of the uni bubble. So, just give them a shot.

There are plenty of other things I had wished I had known before I went to uni, but those are the ones that stand out to me the most. I mean the most important thing is enjoy it, as much as you can. Enjoy it.

Parentheses count: 2. See you tomorrow!

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