As we say goodbye to sun-kissed skin, ice cold drinks and cute boys that only ever seem to come out in the summer (a strange thing to notice, but it’s true), we begin to greet the gloomier version of the UK.
The arrival of September, for a lot of you, means either going back to University or making your first forage into the world of Higher Education. If you fall into the latter category, you’re probably looking forward to attending University with bright eyes, excitement and a determination to succeed.
Boy, have I got news for you.
Uni will have you going from the image above…
In a pretty short span of time.
While the first few days are both exciting and positively frightening (the concept of making friends can make anyone anxious but for those of you with social anxiety—my heart goes out to you!), there are some aspects of Uni that I wish someone had told me before I started. As a recent graduate, I believe it is my duty to pass on what I’ve learnt that has both kept me sane (mostly) and unscathed (does leaving with a half a brain count?).
My first piece of advice? Expect lots and lots of group work. Oh, you expected to leave that behind in college? Didn’t think you’d ever have to work with people who both insult your intelligence and test your patience? I’m sorry to tell you that that won’t be the case.
Group tasks for me (particularly where I was assigned a group) meant having to control a rage that I didn’t even know ever existed for me (picture James McAvoy in Wanted and his slow descent into violent madness).
What you must learn at the very beginning (unfortunately) is patience. Honestly, without it, you’ll probably be arrested for causing a mass brawl on campus, and we wouldn’t want that 9K to be flushed down the toilet over a small thing like that now, would we?
So that means avoiding angry WhatsApp messages where words are hurled like daggers and blood is often shed; no screaming in libraries (yes, I have done this and no, I am not proud of myself); and doing what you can to make the most out of a horrific situation.
The second thing I will have to warn you about (ladies this one is for you) is the concept of complete creeps and their stalkerish tendencies towards you. Whether it be in the classrooms, lecture halls, parties or even that place you go to chill with your friends, they will be there. Ready with a corny line that they believe will make your heart melt—fair enough if they’re the real deal, but more often than not, they’re men who already have girlfriends and are looking for the next addition to their harem, or they’re looking for a temporary side thing. I’m not exaggerating when I say these men are CREEPY, trust me, you’ll know ‘em when you see ‘em.
(On a more serious note; ladies stay safe, don’t accept drinks from strangers and be careful of who you choose to trust explicitly, not that I want to scare you or anything).
My most important bit of advice is to attend your lectures. This might seem hypocritical since I rarely attended lectures in my last two years, but what I did notice is that in the classes I chose to avoid, I didn’t do as great in them as I could have. Don’t convince yourself that it’s OK to skip out just because the lecturer is completely inept at teaching us how to tie our shoes, let alone how to learn whatever it is they’re supposed to be teaching. A mistake I always made was waking up at the butt crack of dawn to get ready for a 9 AM, getting to the campus on time and then deciding—just before opening the door to the lecture theatre—that I’d earned a reprieve for that day. No. It’s a waste of time and energy. If you’re already there just go in (even if you just doodle the whole class away, you’d be surprised at what you do pick up).
Finally, don’t stress yourself out. I know that’s easier said than done, but don’t worry about making friends and getting distinctions. In regards to the former, you’re going make a lot of friends, and you’re going to lose a lot of friends—and you’re going to have to tell yourself that that’s OK. For the latter, don’t worry about it.
So, put in the work, dedicate enough time and energy to help expand your knowledge and skills, and don’t feel like utter crap if something doesn’t work out, because if you’re resilient enough, you’ll find a way.