What university is really like

I first went to university in September with a tonne of expectations about what it would be like, and in reality it was nothing like that.

First, let’s set out the expectations I had:

  • A tight-knit flat who do everything together
  • A uni best friend
  • Going out clubbing every night
  • Constant stress about work
  • Deadlines coming out of my ears
  • Struggling to find time to spend with the boyfriend
  • Easily finding a group to get a flat with for second year

So what actually happened?

A tight-knit flat who do everything together

On move in day I met all but one of my flatmates. They all seemed very nice, but very nervous. That was expected though.

The one flatmate we didn’t meet was automatically nicknamed “mystery boy”. He brought a friend with him, so we were very confused which one he was. He didn’t introduce himself until day two. I think that was the first thing I didn’t expect, I was under the impression everyone would be dying to know their flatmates and introduce themselves right away.

Some of the flat were very shy, often hibernating in their rooms for days, only leaving for food. I worked my hardest to bring them out of their shells, to the point where I was determined to eat dinner with them at some point (it worked).

During the term, we weren’t your stereotypical flat who do a lot together, I mean, you’d be lucky if you saw even one person sometimes. We tended to do our own things on the weekend, be it seeing boyfriends, or going home, so the flat was often empty.

Sometimes, we would have group dinners though, such as pizza night and our Christmas meal out. But this was a rarity. Although I have to say, I did quite enjoy eating with one person from the flat at a time and having a good one on one chat with them.

A uni best friend

I clicked with one of the girls in my flat right away. It seemed to be a perfect match, and as the term went on, we became very close friends. Of course, I was fully expecting to have that one person you connect with, and I’m so glad I found that person early on.

Throughout term, we began to do more and more together, be it a trip to Tesco (ending in having to take a taxi home because we bought too much stuff) or going to dinner. No matter what university you go to, you’re bound to find someone who you end up spending almost 24/7 with.

Luckily, the girl I found felt similarly about clubbing. Neither of us were avid party goers, so skipping a few nights out to sit in the flat and watch TV was totally OK.

Going out clubbing every night

During freshers, there’s an expectation to go out and get black out drunk every single night. In my eyes, that just isn’t very fun. Of course, we went out on the majority of nights, but alcohol consumption wasn’t top of my list.

The best night of freshers was for sure the paint party. It was such a laugh, and they played a lot of old school pop music, such as Busted, which really appealed to us. I’m not a fan of the music which is usually played in clubs, the heavy bass-line and lack of lyrics makes every song blend into one, which gets boring after an hour or so.

Throughout first term, two weekly student nights were offered, PLAY on a Wednesday and Indie on a Friday. PLAY usually meant societies dressed up and looked ridiculous so that was always a laugh. We tended to go out every two weeks, because let’s face it, clubbing is very expensive, and you regret it the next morning.

The biggest event of the term had to be the Halloween pub crawl. For this, we got our 23023509_1117507988386199_873153229_nmakeup done and we’d been excited about it for weeks! So many people got dressed up and came along.  Unfortunately, we didn’t end up staying until the end, but we gave it our best. The best part was seeing a lot of new bars and clubs I’d never heard before. It was like a tour of the city, but for nightlife, which was a great idea. I’d recommend getting involved in the biggest events at university, it could be good fun, and you’ll meet loads of new people too.

There were so many themed nights, such as Disney or 80s, which were good fun. We didn’t go to too many, but when you got into it, it was a laugh and everyone there was happily participating with the theme and having a good time.

It’s no secret that people think clubbing is the biggest part of university life, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. If it’s not your cup of tea, there are tonnes of other things you can do to meet new people and have a good laugh.

Constant stress about work

This was inevitable. Or was it?

I saw lots of people around me stressing about not understanding the work, or having no time to finish an essay that was due the same day. But, there’s an easy way around that.

If I had a lecture in the afternoon, I would go to the library two hours earlier,  read over some notes and do a bit of work which was due in a few weeks time. It doesn’t seem like a lot of time, therefore you might not think it would work, but trust me it does. Doing that at a couple of times a week, plus a few extra hours here and there, makes your life so much less stressful.

For me, I only had three modules this side of Christmas, so my workload wasn’t overwhelming. This meant I had plenty of time to make detailed notes which worked for me. I prefer learning from my own handwriting so this was essential for me.

Also, making use of the people on your course is so so helpful. They’re in the exact same boat as you, and if you’re lucky they’ll have answers that you need. And if they don’t, then you can work on that together.

As dealing with workload is a personal thing, the only advice I can give is to keep up with it. You don’t want to be that person who hasn’t finished their essay two hours before the deadline.

Deadlines coming out of my ears

Of course, this is course dependent.

I switched courses six weeks into the programmes, so I can tell you what two different courses are like, but that doesn’t speak for everyone.

My first course (Media, Culture and Communications) required a lot of essay writing, having two due before Christmas. Each essay required further reading, which was time-consuming, but luckily the lecturers gave you a list of readings which might help you.

My second course (Journalism) was a lot more flexible. We still had one large essay due before Christmas, but the other two modules I took were more creative. This made you want to spend time working on them, as they were fun pieces to write, in fact the very first post on the blog was one of my pieces of coursework.

I’d say the best thing to do with deadlines is to get on top of them. There’s no point leaving it until last minute, when you could easily do half an hour a day and get a far better mark. At the same time, there’s no point spending three consecutive days slaving over the same piece of work, you’ll get sick of it and won’t get your best mark.

Struggling to find time to spend with the boyfriend

This one is everyone’s worry, without a doubt. And, it’s not easy. The time apart is heart breaking, and you just want to spend everyday together. It’s a struggle at times.

But, at the same time, the time apart makes the time you have together so much more special. You look forward to seeing each other so much more. The bottom line is, you have to remeber why you’re in a relationship with the other person, and everything seems better again.

For us, we had never been to the north east before, so we had three new cities to explore (Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham). This meant we had a range of date ideas and day trips at our finger tips. A few examples of this were going to the Dog and Scone in Newcastle, Durham’s Luminere Festival, going to the beach in Sunderland and general walking around the cities.

Plus, seeing as it’s Christmas, there’s plenty of markets to visit. These always have a great atmosphere and are bound to be a great place to meet up.

I really enjoyed going for dinner dates. As we had never been to many of the places avaliable to us, it was great fun trying out new places. I’d say my favourite was Fat Hippo in Durham, as the burgers were amazing, and so afforable too.

Easily finding a group to get a flat with for second year

This was an absolute nightmare for us. Even now, we don’t 100% know who we’re living with. Myself and my flatmate decided early on we would live together, that was sorted.

It was finding two other people to live with. People chopped and changed like it was nobodies business, and gave us false hope. It got very annoying at times, we just wanted people to make their minds up.

It was particularly difficult seeing Instagram photos of my friends from home sorting their flats out and putting deposits down, when we were less organised. It seemed we were just very unlucky. There was far too much drama surrounding who was moving in with who, and I did not expect this at all.

It was supposed to be plain sailing and we would have everything organised before Chrismas, but like I said, university is not what you expect.

Unveristy is the weirdest, yet greatest, thing you’ll ever do. You’re stuck in a different city with a group of people you don’t know, trying to make friends and get good grades. You’re doing the subject you love most, alongside lots of people who share a similar passion. You’re independent, and able to do what you want when you want.

University can be what you make it, but it defineltly won’t be what you expect.


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