First year is over. It feels so weird to say that, I can literally remember moving into my accommodation like it was yesterday. Everything is still so vivid, from finding out I made it into Warwick on results day to my first lecture – I remember it all.
Anywho, I thought I’d share a few things I learnt in first year and how I found it overall, hope you enjoy it, can relate or learn from it if your preparing to go to uni after this summer then get a pen and piece of paper handy.
- Uni is a massive cashloss
This point is self explanatory. Everything swallows your money. Uber. Just Eat. Train tickets. Takeaway. Eating out. Going out. Online shopping. ‘Books’ (the library was my best friend sha). Societies. Events. Ball. Accommodation. Fines. Deposits and Agency fees. The list actually goes on, but university will empty your pockets, and alot of the time we do it willingly and then look at our bank statements and shake small small, but God is really on the throne. University in itself is £9.25K/year, its not chicken change and its an investment I had to remind myself about in times of laziness. But in general uni is an indirect financial lesson, in budgeting, saving, spending and thinking about your financial choices or suffering the consequences of those choices. Student finance was not my best friend at all, I got the minimum maintenance loan, so I had to budget what I got from my parents every few weeks which taught me alot about living independently, enjoying my time at uni and paying for expenses all on a budget which I was able to do without ever having to go on an Indomie diet – yayyy me!
I have met so many people coming to uni. Made so many friends over the year and gotten to know people that I have now come to love. I knew that university would be a time where I made new friends, but I had no clue that I would be making friends even in the last term, friends ranging from first year to people in their fourth year. I’ve met such a range of people from different backgrounds, walks of life, internationals from different countries, the list goes on. Honestly I’m so grateful for all the friends I’ve made, people I’ve met, banter I’ve had and things I’ve learnt just from conversations and debates in people’s accom kitchens.
- You won’t attend all of your lectures
I was one of those people that came to uni shouting ‘I will go to all my lectures, if I can wake up at 6/7 am for school why can’t I make my 9ams?’. Half way through term 1 I came to the realisation that I won’t make all my lectures and its okay. But to be fair I can say with my chest that I went to at least 75% of my lectures and I lecture captured missed lectures straight away, so I wasn’t wayward about missing lectures. But being realistic about which lectures I would attend really helped me to be more intentional. As an undergraduate student you learn very fast that uni is very independent, so some lectures, for a lack of a better term, are a waste of time. Especially if you learn better reading things by yourself or focus better at night then lectures aren’t a must. However, it doesn’t mean don’t go to any lectures, no. I’m saying know yourself and how you learn and what you need to do, so you can do well. But let’s be real, 9ams are tasking to say the least, so I understand why many lectures are often missed.
People are detty (not just dirty, but detty)! First term was probably the best term in terms of my flat’s harmony and cleanliness. By term 2 bins are overflowing, sink is dirty, plates have been sitting there for days and I can only find one of my spoons (but I left my drawer full last time I checked). I had to just learn to meal prep when the kitchen was clean and keep it stepping to be honest, I didn’t come to uni to clean up after grown adults. But on the other hand, apart from cleanliness and my things disappearing here and there, I was blessed to have some of my flatmates become family and great friends – wouldn’t change my flat 7 experience for the world.
This is a big theme when you get to uni. You have so much free time and so little structure that you can really waste it or misuse it. The way I misused my time was through my sleeping pattern. I definitely had uni induced insomnia throughout first year, and especially in term 1, I was ALWAYS tired. Sleeping at 5am kekeing all night and going to a 10am the same day, then coming back to my accommodation to have a 4 hour ‘nap’ then repeat the cycle wasn’t healthy. I wish I could say that it got better, but it didn’t – sleep deprivation was just a part of my first year experience. My time management wasn’t great this year and I will definitely have to fix up for second year, but I enjoyed every single keke-session I had!
This university experience can definitely be overwhelming in terms of demands on your time, academic abilities, finances, social situations, deadlines, finding housing for the next academic year and various responsibilities. There were so many times this year when I felt like I was being stretched in every direction and one more demand would cause me to break, but I just kept going until I felt completely overwhelmed and eventually forced myself to just take time to breathe. Uni requires so much from you not just academically, but as an individual and you’re really put through your paces in some situations. I feel like it’s a season that gives you a sneak peak into adulthood and a time to really build character, but it’s far from easy. It was so important for me to learn to protect my peace and watch my mindset in times when I was overwhelmed because without doing that uni could have easily chewed me up as an appetizer, but we thank God that wasn’t the case. At times uni did push me to my mental limits, but simply taking breaks to go back home, praying, watching sermons, taking time for myself to relax and watch some YouTube videos and just talking to friends all helped.
- Your mental health is important!
Like I was alluding to in the last point, uni will highlight your mental health and it’s often not a comfortable thing to go through. I remember starting term 2 and I was just down – from the jump. Nothing had triggered it, I just got back to uni in January and was not fully myself. I preferred being alone more often, I was more emotional and everything felt overwhelming. I felt guilty about not checking up on friends in other unis, not calling my family, but i felt homesick at the same time, deadlines and tests were coming up and I just wasn’t myself. But the friends, more like sisters, I have around me at uni noticed and spoke life into me and encouraged me to take time for myself, and they were there to listen I appreciated so much (girls you know who you is xx). I could have easily stayed in my downstate if I didn’t accept the support, which alot of ‘strong’ friends do, but its so important to understand that everyone needs support and time to explore their mental health in order to understand themselves better.
- Deadlines, Reading, Exams
Workload in first year didn’t feel too much when I was managing my time effectively. Deadlines were normally set at least a month before they’re due, so there was time for research, reading and writing up assignments. However, being a first year we think we can control time and get assignments done within days – which we did. Doing assignments late is an extreme sport and many of us got a lot of experience at doing it. For me though, I can’t have that stress on my head, I have to start assignments early, I may leave it for weeks and come back when it’s nearly due, but I had to start early so I knew that I had something down. The one thing I always did too late was my reading. Reading while doing your assignment seems efficient, but it’s not great if you’re trying to actually take in the information. So hopefully I will do my reading before starting my assignments next year.
Exams, exams, exams. Well let’s just say this exam season showed me exactly why I’m not the type of person that handles cramming well. Anywho, I got through it and I definitely know how I won’t handle exam season in 2nd year, but I thank God for the peace I felt throughout term 3, Exodus 14:14 ‘The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace’ (KJV) was my exam season verse that I held tight to. God really saw me through each exam and I wasn’t feeling any anxiety which I’m so thankful for.
Overall 1st year was full of growth for me, in every single way possible. I’m so grateful for all the ups and downs this academic year has brought, it all helped me to develop in one way or the other. Spiritually, mentally, emotionally, socially I’ve developed for the better and I couldn’t be more pleased (I left out physically because uni for me equaled sleep deprivation and half a term of freshers flu). The events I attended during the year, things I’ve been a part of, friends I’ve made, church I’ve joined, assignments I did well in and others I flopped, they all put me through a growing process that has put me in better stead for the person I’m destined to become.
I thoroughly enjoyed first year, even the hard times brought something of value to me and taught me alot about myself and others. For me to even be able to say this, shows how I’ve changed within myself in a year (compared to how I saw my sixth form experience). Uni taught me so much and one thing that I started putting into practise is seeing challenges as an unknown adventure that may not produce exactly what you want, but it will ALWAYS teach you the lesson you need!
Hope you enjoyed this post and receive the grades you desire this year. Have a blessed summer guys. ~ ChidinmaE