As university falls out of my present and into my past, I can’t help but recognise the unrealistic representations the media paints of the experience. Whilst the internet crawls with compilations of ‘things you’ll learn at university’, they all seem to fall into the following categories: how drunk you’ll be, how little work you’ll do and how poor you’ll end up. Whilst university is indeed complete pandemonium, there’s more to the three (or more) years of your life that eventually end up shaping a lot of your ideas about adulthood. There’s more to take care of than which mixer to put with your Co-op’s own vodka and certainly more to what you’ll learn about yourself and others. As someone whose life at university yo-yoed between one day being in the Houses of Parliament drinking champagne for breakfast to another being in extremely dangerous situations, I decided to compile a bullshit-free guide for anyone making the transition to university this September. From things I believe are important to invest care into, to little lessons you’ll inevitably learn one way or another during your time there...
1. Make the absolute most of the city you’re temporarily living in. Chances are, you won’t live there again.
2. Understand that friends you make that still live at home have completely different priorities to you. They might be going out all the time, but you have rent to pay.
3. No matter how poor you become, always fork out for decent quality loo roll. You know, the kind that comes in puppy packaging.
4. The party does in fact end.
5. Say yes to everything. Apply for everything. Because some day real soon, you’re gonna be working a full time job where you can’t just skip class to go appear in your fave band’s new music video.
6. Ear plugs.
7. You’re under the illusion that now you’re an *adult*, the friends you make are the real deal. You will make some that are, but remember that just like school, a lot of you are still only friends because you’re lumped in the same place spending everyday together. Take it lightheartedly.
8. Your health is extremely important. Don’t let it slip.
9. Open a savings account and make a pledge to put in as much or as little into it each month. Right now you have no ties or plans or worries but at some point over your three years, something will click and you’ll have dreams and ideas for what to do when you finish your course. And whatever that may be, it isn’t gonna pay for itself.
10. The kidney you’ll have to sell to be able to afford a train ticket home is always worth it.
11. Stay away from those who HAVE to bring up drugs in every conversation. They’re always the ones without any substance, ironically.
12. You’ll do many stupid things. Don’t let yourself or anyone else make you feel bad for them - they'll make you who you are.
13. You don’t have to sleep with lots of people.
14. You’ll miss your bath tub even if you never ever took baths at home.
15. Go as long as you possibly can before visiting home for the first time after moving out or you’ll end up needing to go back all the time. Allow yourself to grow into your independence, it’s value is immeasurable.
16. If it’s not right, you can’t force it to be. People drop out and change courses like you change your knickers, it’s not as dramatically life damaging as some will try and make you believe.
17. Check your course has no group projects. If so, abort mission immediately.
18. Making friends in your city that are not from your university can be a lifesaver.
19. A good working relationship with your tutors will take you far.
20. And finally, follow your own narrative. These are going to be the greatest years of your life, don’t sacrifice even a hint of that happiness by just following what everybody else is doing.