Upon reflection: lessons of my first year at University

Molly Taylor gives her five most valuable lessons she thinks every fresher should know

Molly Taylor
12th October 2020

I started reading English Literature at Newcastle University in September 2019, after spending some time outside of education on my gap year. Like most university freshers, I was excited but also really nervous about starting my course. Will I like the city? Will I make any friends? Will everyone on my course be much smarter than me? All the usual stuff. 

This, therefore, is a compiled list of five things that, after reflecting on my first year of university (and arguably my first year of being a proper adult), I would tell my past self and anyone else who feels nervous about being a fresher.

1. Everyone is as scared as you. I know it’s hard to believe, but people are just as nervous as you, and are also just as desperate to make friends. So, go on, talk to that boy in the corner who’s drinking that disgusting red bull vodka concoction. What’s the worst that can happen? Chances are, if it goes badly, you'll  never see him again. Alternatively, (and more likely), you’ll have a nice conversation and discover you’re both recycled origami fanatics, or massively into Psychedelic Christian emo heavy metal.

2. Seasoning is…everything. Cooking for yourself for the first time can feel daunting. I often found that recipes I had planned were too time consuming and laborious after attending a whole day of university (who knew you wouldn’t fancy trying out a three hour recipe after attending seven hours of lectures?). With that in mind, I found that seasoning is a uni student’s best friend, making a relatively bland meal slightly more interesting. 

3. Everyone’s friendship stories are different. People often say you are likely to never see the people you meet in freshers’ week again. This was actually the opposite for me (minus a few people). My closest friends were some of the first people I met during freshers. My point is that you shouldn’t write someone off if they are not completely your cup of tea (or choice of beverage all together). You never know who might be wiping sick off your cheek after your next night out, or, you know...who might be your next best friend.

4. Whilst optional things are optional, it’s good if you go to them. I found it really useful to meet with or email lecturers if I had concerns about a piece of coursework or an exam. Even if you think you have that essay under control, it's always useful to get feedback and advice from someone who is literally paid to help you. 

5. Lastly, you’re paying for the degree, not just the resources you are given. University tuition is undoubtedly expensive and will put you in debt for some time. I still struggle with the notion that I am paying over £9,000 (pearl clutch) for a service which definitely does not cost that much to provide. Getting angry about it won’t change anything though, and so you’re just going to have to accept that you’re paying for the degree itself, and the opportunities it will open up for you in the future. I’m saying this as though I don’t get angry. I’m still fuming, but what can you do? 

I hope this was useful, and if not, it was at least a cathartic process for me, as I reflect on my first year of university. It sounds like a cliché, but it goes fast, so enjoy it while you can.

Feature Image: Pixabay @Pexel

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