My five years at school were a nightmare, for various reasons. I left school and went to college, which I loved. At this point I presumed that this was because people were a lot more mature and that they actually wanted to be there, and so I'd be happy in education from that point onwards. Wrong.
Not enjoying university is a strange phenomenon. I started off with a degree in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University. My first day was a blur. I missed college, I missed my friends, and I was completely underwhelmed. It didn't help that I had skipped Freshers, and that was all anybody could talk about. Nobody seemed to quite understand why I skipped it and why I wasn't interested in it. Then my first week of lectures began, and I started to realise that I was dreading having to go. Creative Writing wasn't as free and inspiring as I was expecting. I felt like I was constantly being judged by the other students when I had to read out my work from the onset, which is something that I had never ever had to do before and something that I was absolutely not comfortable with. I was seeing how much of good time everyone else was having on Facebook and coming to the conclusion that there was something wrong with me. And so I decided to bite the bullet and arranged to speak to the course leader about changing courses, and I switched to English with Philosophy.
Now, I'd already been at university for about a month when I changed. It was technically too late to change but they let me switch regardless. Changing courses midway was a lot like moving schools. I had to attend different lectures, and worse still, different seminars. I had to try and function and fit in with a completely different group of people. People who had already met and known each other from the start of term. I am not the most sociable person. If I can, I'll sit in the corner and read and not have a conversation with anybody for as long as possible. So, as you can imagine, this prospect was really quite terrifying for me. I had to really push myself out my comfort zone and force myself to speak to people and to try and adjust. This where things began to look up for me.
Everybody in my seminars were incredibly nice. People either presumed I'd always been there (students aren't exactly known for their high attendance), and the ones who knew I had moved were welcoming and helped me catch up, and the lecturers helped me get up to speed with the course. I had to do double the work to get caught up with what I'd missed, but it was worth it. Within a month or so I was completely settled in. The good thing about the Philosophy side of my course is that it's an incredibly small group. Everybody knows everybody and it really helped me adjust.
The second year is a completely different experience from the first year. At my university you get to choose your modules in the second year which is extremely liberating. This meant that my course was a lot more interesting and by that point you know people from your seminars and you are used to the work and the university structure. If you are in your first year and you aren't enjoying it, I would hang on and see what options there are for the second year, because I have enjoyed my second year so much more than my first.
I'm a local student, so my experiences are completely different to those who live in halls. I have to commute to university on the bus, which takes about an hour and a half both there and back, depending on the traffic. This means that I wasn't able to meet people in halls like everybody else; I had to meet people in my lecturers and seminars instead. I'm also not the sort of person to go to clubs. I'd much rather go to see a band. It doesn't help that my last bus home is before midnight, so I don't tend to go out. This doesn't mean that I haven't made friends. There's such a wide variety of people at university that you are bound to meet at least one person you like. I go out for coffee or for lunch with people a lot instead of going out at night. You do have to make a bigger effort to meet people yourself when you live at home, which is a challenge for somebody like me, but I think in a way, this has helped me quite a lot.
If you are thinking of staying at home and travelling to university, I'd consider first the transport fees and what the best options for you are (bus passes cost me £600 a year) and the time it takes you to commute. My university also likes to presume that we all live nearby. The amount of times I've turned up and discovered my lecture has been cancelled are too many to count on my fingers. They also like updating my timetable and telling me that I have a lecture in an hour. Despite all of this, it is a lot cheaper than living in halls, and so I think for me it has worked out really well.
So, to those of you who are starting university this year, don't stress about it too much. Everybody is different, and at the end of the day, you aren't there for very long. Everybody is in the same boat so there really isn't anything to be afraid of. Societies are also a great way to meet like-minded people if you struggle to make friends (when they don't clash with your timetable). I'd also recommend that you persevere. I was so, so tempted to drop out when I was hating it in my first few weeks, but now I'm extremely glad that I didn't. Also, if you aren't happy, speak to somebody! You are paying to attend university and the staff are there to help you. Finally, don't believe the hype on Facebook. Sure, you might feel that way and love it like 'everybody else' but there's also a chance you won't. And if you don't, it isn't abnormal.
I'm not sure if there is an actual point to this post or not! If anybody has any questions about my experiences with university or with my course, feel free to ask! I'd also like to apologise for the length of it...
I hope you all have a lovely weekend!
I hope you all have a lovely weekend!