Back in September I left home, moved to London and began this massive adventure called Uni. I didn’t feel prepared in the slightest (despite the hours spent reading articles online about Fresher’s Week and the agonising decisions regarding which crockery set to buy). And honestly, I kind of wasn’t. I don’t think anybody is truly ready for university. I learnt more in the first week of higher education, before lessons had even started, than I had in my two years of Sixth Form. It was definitely an experience.
Over the year, the lessons just kept on coming. I mean, yeah, I learnt I hell of a lot about Shakespeare and about how to write an essay that was actually kind of good. But those are all sort of minor in comparison to the things living alone taught me about life, people and myself.
How to cook sweet potatoes in approx. 32 different ways
I flat out refused to be one of those malnourished university students who lives off cereal and Pot Noodles with the occasional milky tea to get them through their hangovers. Still, I didn’t want to spend 3 hours a day cooking which is what a lot of websites seemed to encourage. Who has a dehydrator, honestly? So I guess one of the main lessons university has taught me is how to feed myself relatively healthy and easy meals on a budget. That’s something everyone needs to know (unless you’re nobility or were born a Beckham). I’ve now mastered a rather hefty collection of recipes, 90% of which contain my saviour, the sweet potato.
That university doesn’t mean ‘everybody in my class will be as passionate as me’
Oh God, not at all. I said this about GCSE (‘But you get to pick your options, so everybody will love books as much as me!’). I said this about A-Level (‘If you’re only studying 4 subjects, surely you enjoy them all?’). I said this about my degree (‘It’s not like someone would commit three years of their life to something they don’t truly care about!). And I was wrong every single time. In my first ever seminar, when asked why we chose to study literature, somebody genuinely said the words “my parents told me to go to uni and this course looked alright, I guess”.
That drinking a whole bottle of Prosecco won’t end well
aka it will end up as vomit on the kitchen floor. Nice.
It’s not all parties
At least not in my flat. Maybe we’re just really bad at being students, but my favourite memories from first year were not drunken ones. They were ‘laughing so hard my tea almost came out of my nose’ ones.
How to get over the loneliness
Sometimes you feel this perverse guilt because university is meant to be “the best time of your life” and you’re sitting on your bed, crying because you miss home and it’s just not what you expected. The first thing I learnt is that these times will pass. The second thing I learnt is that facetime is a godsend. And the third thing I learnt is that there’s nothing that a cup of tea with your flatmates can’t fix.
How to read an average of three books a week
Lots of peppermint tea, no music in the background and online summaries to guide the way.
That not everybody knows how to use a sponge and washing up liquid
Everybody, and I mean everybody, will claim to be “omg such a clean freak” in Fresher’s Week. Then, it gets to the final week of uni and there’s a cup next to your sink which has been there for a month and is actually growing its own eco system. Not everybody is considerate in shared living environments.
How to navigate the tube
I loved London before I lived here and I love it even more now. But if there’s one thing that I truly mourn for when I go back to kent, it’s the transport links. The buses actually come on time here! Who knew that was a thing? Once I’d mastered how to navigate the tube relatively well, I felt like the world was my oyster. Get it…Oyster card? Oh dear.
That talking to people will be the making of you
It can be terrifying being in a room full of people you’ve never met that might all turn out to be the Regina George of Roehampton (spoiler alert: none of them were). But university taught me to suck it up. You meet new people on a daily basis when you’re in this kind of environment, and it’s a lot more awkward if you just both sit there in silence. Yay for new friends!
To have faith in myself
If there’s one thing that the past year has taught me, it’s that I’m unbelievably capable. As much as it’s lovely to have people there to help when you’re struggling, I now know how rare it is to encounter a situation that I cannot overcome on my own. I’m 19 years old, living in London and living life for myself. That’s pretty rad, if you ask me.