Lessons from first year of University

Before August 2016, I was supposed to take a gap year (a year out of education, usually after completing A levels and before starting university) which was more of a gamble I lost. My poor grades meant I couldn’t apply for medicine and studying anything else wasn’t an option at that time.

In the UK, we apply to University through an online application process called UCAS which we send off near the beginning of A2 level or Year 13. Or so it was during my time, some things have changed since then. The deadline for medicine is in October while for everything else it’s around January/February. I can’t exactly remember. After that, it’s through ‘clearing.’ A process where you call up universities after receiving your grades and see if they will offer you a place on the subject of your choice (except medicine). But you do need to have a completed UCAS application to be eligible for a place through clearing.

I applied through clearing. Once I received my my grades and realised there’s no point in taking a gap year, I completed my application in two days and started making calls. Long story short: Lincoln was the best I could do.

I came to university without researching. I didn’t even attend the ‘open day’ held for students who are coming through clearing. That’s lesson number one: visiting university during open days. That way I would’ve been more prepared, mentally atleast. It would’ve probably opened up a window for me to have met more people. Furthermore, had I known beforehand, I would’ve joined those freshers facebook groups where one can meet people from their course and accommodation. It’s just easier to settle in when there’s a visible ‘support group’ around.

During the first few weeks, I dreaded leaving my room. I have a terrible sense of direction and I had no idea what I was doing. My confidence levels after the results were incredibly low and I just felt afraid of everything. Which brings me to lesson number two: that feeling of dread will subside no matter how unbelievable that might seem at that moment. 

I wasn’t in the best state of mind and didn’t have the courage to join any societies. Most people have their thing: Disney, Harry Potter, Anime etc. I just didn’t know what my thing was…or is. Lesson number three: join societies even if the plan to stick to it isn’t long term. Because attending that first social/event by a society can introduce opportunities one never saw coming.

I don’t drink and refuse to sesh (another term for clubbing/partying/raving) but literally 99% of the people around me do, even if it’s to an extent. Sometimes, I do have thoughts like maybe it would’ve made my life easier if I related to the habits of the masses. It’s not a secret that I am insecure about my personality and being in a situation of immense peer pressure didn’t help. Don’t get me wrong, the pressure in university is different than to being in high school. Most of which stems from FOMO or the fear of missing out.

That being said, lesson number four: life is too short to compromise values and beliefs that essentially make up one’s identity. It’s hard but priorities are priorities. In the end, no one’s going to look back and think: well, at least I fit in or at least those people I knew for like three years thought I was ‘fun.’ I wanted to be more involved with ‘internal affairs’ without having to drink or sesh, so I got a job which puts me at the centre of student affairs.

Another interesting thing I observed was that it takes longer than one might expect to really get to know someone. Even if things seem stable, for better or worse, things change throughout and quickly near the end of the year.

Lesson number five: don’t give up so quickly, things change when one least expects it to. Take small steps to change things but if something doesn’t work out, it was never meant to in the first place.

Lesson number six: for the love of anything at all, learn how to cook. Plan weekly meals to make life easier. Because I don’t eat things with alcohol or ‘meat’, I can’t just grab any ready made meal from supermarkets. Even worse, I am awful at cooking. But with practise, I’ve gotten better. I make weekly meal plans now and pin easy recipes down to try out. Pinterest recipes are life savers!

Lesson number seven: living in a private space, e.g. a studio, doesn’t mean living in isolation. There’s a fair split between people who get along with their flatmates and people who don’t. Usually, in second year people get to decide who they want to live with and have a better experience.

When I had to decide in November where I wanted to live for this year, I had only one close-ish friend and we actually considered looking at a two bedroom flat. Long story short, we are actually very different people and us living together would’ve been a recipe for disaster. Some people just need more time to find the right friends than others, nothing wrong with that.

Lesson number eight: many things will NOT go the way one may want them to. Just have patience, things tend to work out in the end. I lacked vitality and any sense of joy for the first five to eight months but things did turn out okay in the end. I don’t want to continue being friends with some of the people I’ve met. And not for any spiteful reasons either. We make different friends at different stages as we proceed through life.

Lesson number nine: not comparing experiences with others. It’s honestly pointless. Not everyone will experience the same things the same way and that’s just life.

Lesson number ten: no matter what happens, things will get easier. Including things like cleaning, cooking, adjusting to a new style of education etcetera etcetera. Some people are so focused on the social aspect, they forget the main purpose of being at an university. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a good time, it’s so important to realise that education is the main focus and it costs a lot too.

Personally, I don’t think my experience is a particularly relatable one. But when I was going through it, if I had found something like this it would’ve helped me cope. Most people have a fantastic time and I am sure if any student is reading this, you will too. In my upcoming posts, I will discuss my course and some of the things I plan on doing differently this year.

Sharing

Does anyone else feel guilty for not being able to re-read a book even though it’s a favourite?

One of my qualities, not sure if it’s good or bad, is that I can’t re-read things or rewatch a series. Although, I do sometimes rewatch movies. Not many, just a very few. Like, The Little Prince or Corpse Bride.

Anyways, I wanted to share a poem by contemporary poet Savannah Brown. She is a youtuber.

This has got to be one of my favourite poems, even though I am not an existentialist. I don’t know if it’s just me but I can ‘feel’ beauty. And this poem gives me all that aesthetic feels. I am not crazy, promise.

there are many theories as to how we came to be
(i’m not sure which one i believe).

did we appear as dually flickering lights
above a hazy skyline?
fluttering, distant,
choking on stifling fog:
first solitary decades of life
as a lukewarm utterance into the vacuum,
whispering, “oh, what is this emptiness?”
haggard gesturing suggesting
half is not missing, but whole

and someday, when beacons collide,
not coincidence, but prophecy,
wrenching claims of meant-to-be
the sparks erupt in ultraviolet chaos,
volcanic, raging,
a mighty wallop of colour and sound,
a shattering cry of belonging
splitting time itself.

i don’t think so.
i don’t think i was born to love anyone
except myself, and even that,
some days, i’m not sure is true.

i don’t think our initials are carved
into anything immortal,
let alone battered into the very cosmos;
the air didn’t lock into place upon our arrival,
awaiting the moment our silhouettes
would one day fill the empty space.

i could fall in love with a melody,
let crawl through my body
(or a train ride, or alabaster sheets;
there are chemicals that do these things to me),
i could grow fond of many things
but how particular my fondness of you

how fervent, how violent, how gentle

i think we’re just moths
riding on the backs of giants
and i wasn’t drawn to you
because our wings are both blue
but because they’re the same colour
as everyone else’s
and you were willing to listen to
why that scared me

we’re not star-crossed
but we can still wrap ourselves in the seams
of a quilted universe that we did not stitch;
bathe in the glow of a sun
that does not shine for us;
run atop an earth that
does not feel our hurried footsteps
as they thump,
thump
thump

how lucky we are
to have nothing expected of us.
quickly—all the time we will ever know
is tapping her toes on the doorstep
and i do not want to keep her waiting

– Savannah Brown


Featured image collected from https://www.pinterest.co.uk/source/exploringuniversecollections.blogspot.com/ 

Bristol, Bath & Hastings

I made a resolution of visiting a city every month and I kept it. Well, sort of.

Bristol:

My sister goes to the University of West England in Bristol and of course I had to take advantage of that. I stayed in Bristol for two nights, exploring parts of the city in a day.

Bristol is a noticeably green city. Every city has its own atmosphere and Bristol is no exception. The last time I visited Bristol was over a year ago and I recalled having some unfriendly encounters. But I did return without holding grudges or making assumptions and it turned out interesting. 

Here’s four poor quality images. One of these days when I am not actually broke, I will go and purchase a proper camera…or a cheap compact one. Still better than nothing!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to explore that much of Bristol. Although, I have plans of returning during the summer.

Bath:

Bath is incredibly close to Bristol; a fifteen/seventeen minutes ride from Temple Meads Station. Between Bristol and Bath, I would choose Bath everytime. (Sorry!) I was so impressed with the architecture, the parks and just the lonely air of the city. I can imagine why the last bit may not be appealing to some people (definitely not to my sister) but I found it captivating.

Bath is actually a popular enough place for visiting. It was the day I went there and the horrid weather that made it seem unusually solitary. If you head over now or in the next two months, I can’t see why it won’t be busy.

We went to the Victoria Art Gallery which was quite nice. My ‘non-artistic’ sister enjoyed being there too! Of course, no visit to a city is complete without admiring its cathedral. We went to see the Bath Abbey which is really close to the Roman Baths and other touristy places. We didn’t go in the Jane Austen centre as it was too expensive for us. Unfortunately, when we arrived at Herschel Museum of  Astronomy it was closed. But I intend to return again to visit it eventually.

Hastings:

The day after visiting Bath, I took the coach back to London. The following day, my friend and I headed over to Hastings for another trip.

Initially, it was horrendous. But as the blankets of pale clouds subsided and the sun woke up with all its glory, our day began to get better. Getting to Hasting’s castle was quite the walk along a steep hill but the view was absolutely worth it.

Hastings Museum and Art Gallery featured George Graham’s: The Creation Paintings and it was incredible. I highly recommend it, although, Moonlight Scene by Sebastian Pether in Victoria Art Gallery stole my breath away. (And of course my heart too)