February 24, 2017, by Siobhan
Things I’d Tell My ‘Before Uni’ Self
This past week, I’ve been having a really tough time at uni. Even though I’m more settled than ever, and happier than I’ve ever been, it’s been really horrible. Everything little thing has been getting to me and making every day seem like a complete chore. It’s really hit home that even though these days are the ‘best of our lives’, some of those days seem to be the furthest thing from that. However, I’ve decided not to dwell on the feeling, and make it an opportunity to write a helpful, insightful post to remind myself that everything’s okay, but also let the soon to be freshers know that even though university is terrifying, for them too, everything is okay.
I think my ‘before uni’ self would appreciate 19 year old, half way through semester two Siobhan’s advice. Hopefully it will now help some other jittery, excitement filled freshers soon to be starting the next part of their lives.
First off, I give my most important piece of advice. I hope you’re all reading this very carefully. Make the most out of every piece of time you get to spend with your friends and family at home. It’s not uncommon to think, or hear others saying stuff like ‘I can’t wait to leave this place’ or ‘I wish I was at uni now, I’m so fed up’ and such like, I know I did! However, I can’t stress enough just how important the next few months are for really appreciating those around you. Even if you don’t have many friends, or you aren’t close with your family, I can tell you that once they’re not around all the time, it’s the weirdest, strangest feeling. I thought I was the most independent person I knew, I cooked for myself, cleaned the house, even did my own shopping from time to time. Little did I know, I’m actually the biggest baby who relies heavily on other people. Words cannot describe how much I missed my family and friends in the first few weeks. When I saw them all, it was like Christmas. I cried. A lot. What I’m trying to say is, just appreciate others, and be mindful of their presence. Come moving day, it’s all going to change. That’s not meant to be a scary thought; but it is! You’re going to be starting a brand new phase in your life without all the comforts of home. It’s swings and roundabouts though, you’re parted from home, but you’re finally feeling a sense of freedom that you’ve never had before. You have all the time you want to just be you, and do what you want.
Second: do not, I repeat, do not, get stressed about having to grow up and do adult things. Trust me, every little thing will be okay. Before I came to uni, I’d barely used a washing machine, I NEVER did the washing up, and I certainly didn’t know how to put a deposit down on my own house. Now, 6 months later, I can do all those things. I’m sure a lot of you will be hugely unimpressed by the first two achievements, but putting a deposit down on a house? If you look in the Oxford English Dictionary, that is the definition of adult. Going into the bank I was terrified, I didn’t understand the house contract, what a standing order was, or how to go about paying instalments. But, 10 minutes later, I walked out of there with a house sorted for my second year, and feeling as though I’d aged about five years. I, Siobhan Fitzsimons, am now an adult. I just remember being so scared of having to do these things on my own, when really, it was wasted energy. These kinds of things seem impossible because you’ve never had to do them before, but really, they’re very, very simple. So please, from me to you, don’t worry about them. Just promise me, when you leave the bank, you take your standing order receipts. You need your paperwork, you’re an adult now.
Thirdly and finally, remember why you’re here, why you’re going to uni, and what you want to get out of it. Is it to get a first as an undergrad then go on to be a famous doctor who finds a cure for a disease that hasn’t even been discovered yet? Or is it just to study something you love? Or meet new people? Whatever it is, make sure you stay true to it. I knew I wanted to study history, and that I wanted to study at Nottingham. I’m so lucky to even be here, I never in a million years thought I would get good enough grades. I wish though, that in the summer before uni, I didn’t have such a blinkered view on what uni would mean to me. I was treating it like school, a three-year extension on my A Levels. And oh my, was that a mistake. Uni life is so much more. It’s impossible to treat it like that, it’s not as though you go to uni every day, and then go home to your parents that have cooked for you and paid for your school trips and whatever. Uni is a school, but also a grocery market, an accountancy firm, a launderette and a little neighbourhood all rolled into one. You’re expected to do academic work, but also your shopping, washing, budgeting and socialising. All at the same time! I might not be doing it justice, but you honestly will be swept off your feet with the amount of well, stuff you have going on. It’s a lot to get used to! With all that though, just remember why you’re here, and that you deserve to be here. You have worked so hard, and are being rewarded with a new chapter to begin in your life.
I’m not sure if this post has quite followed the path I’d have wished it to, but I hope its offered some advice, maybe some reflection, or something to relate to. I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t wish anything away, appreciate what you have, and enjoy what you have to come.
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