| my thoughts on first year at university

Monday, 26 May 2014

Hi lovelies, tonight I'm feeling completely whacked out after churning out numerous hours of revision in preparation for my final exam of the year on Friday. Boy will I be relieved to get this one done out of the way! As the end of my first year at university looms, I thought I'd reflect on how my experience has been and the things I've learnt that I will offer to any lucky people starting university in September, and that I will be taking with me into second year.

I remember not being able to visualise at all how I might find university in the months after results leading up to me actually moving into accommodation in October. It was a scary feeling, moving into a new flat with 6 other complete strangers, and for about half an hour after my family had left me to settle in, I was too nervous to leave my room to say hi to my flatmates moving in. But in moments like this, you just have to put yourself out there and get the initial awkwardness over with. I've found this is a mantra you should apply to meeting new people in any situation - of course meeting new people can be a scary prospect, but once you bite the bullet and talk to people you wonder why on earth you were so worried in the first place!

In regards to living with my flatmates over this year, I've had quite the experience. I wouldn't say it's been overly positive; don't get me wrong I have got on with the majority of my flatmates this year but in all honesty as a group of people we never all gelled as well as other flats. Purely this is due to the fact the 3 boys I have lived with are polar opposites of each other meaning that there's been no incentive to do things together, apart from us four girls who for a while got on very well, everyone's gone off and done their own thing. I had a rather negative experience with the three girls, in which from this I've learnt to never, ever rely on your flatmates as your only friends at uni, being around each other all the time will drive you all nuts. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to make friends in different sections of the uni, as two of the said girls have recently left university early, meaning that the other girl has been left with few options.

I on the other hand, have had a lot of fun making lots of small groups of friends. My second big piece of advice is to join one or two societies wholeheartedly but don't spread yourself too thin. The lure of the many societies during the Fresher's Fair is exciting, but honestly you need to think about how much free time you will actually have to get involved with your favourite societies. The benefit of being part of one or two means that you'll get to know the people there so much better than if you went sporadically to 4 or 5 because you'll be seeing the same people every week. This year I've made some brilliant mates through playing every week at the uni's recreational, postgrad and undergrad badminton team. In hindsight I wish I'd made more time to join in with the huge range of language societies. I went to a few socials but that's all!

Another piece of advice I'd give is not to make a hasty decision about who to live with in second year housing. I had a nightmare with this the last few months, as the people I was meant to leave with decided at a very inconvenient time that they no longer wanted to live with me. To be fair to them, I hadn't particularly wanted to live with them either, and had settled on living with them through convenience. I really regret not thinking it through properly, because I made friends with a really lovely group of girls who had wanted to live with me too, and instead I didn't budge and stayed with the original group through reluctance to cause hassle. Really I should have thought about what I wanted, not what was good for everyone else.

This has turned into a rather negative post, don't get the wrong idea I have had an absolutely incredible first year at Southampton. I've met some genuine friends for life, progressed with my best hobby ever, had some amazing experiences, and all in the process of improving my language ability in French and Spanish. My main advice would be to really take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. On my most spontaneous nights out I've met some amazing people, and often the most unplanned nights out turn out to be the best ones!

Thanks for reading! Are any of you heading off to university this year? Just completed a year at university? How did you find your experience? xx

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