First Year: The Highs and The Lows

The thing about university is that no matter how much you convince yourself that you are prepared to start this whole new life in a new place, meeting new people and doing new things, you’re never really fully prepared (or at least I wasn’t anyway).

I made countless to-do lists, read an abundance of blog posts and watched too many YouTube videos on people’s experiences of moving to university and their first year in general. What I should have realised from that, is that everyone’s experience is different.

I’m writing this as someone who doesn’t really drink alcohol and has never been on a night out – so sadly, I cannot relate when you tell me about your great night out at Cheesys. Do I think that this puts me at a disadvantage when making new friends? No. It just meant that I met friends in different ways, like going for brunch (which I think is much better than a night out anyway). Besides, I’ve made such lovely friends this year, I really don’t feel pressurised into enjoying the ‘nights out’ lifestyle.

Actually, while writing this, I realised that my whole first year experience has been a little bit unconventional. Especially considering I switched to a different flat halfway through the year which meant packing my life up in boxes all over again and living with completely new people. I haven’t had the best experience in student halls but I don’t regret deciding to live here because, without sounding incredibly cliché, it has made me grow as a person, increased my ability to stand up for myself and it has been a good way to ease me into life away from the comforts of my family home.

On the subject of independence, I’ve made big steps this year in deciding what I want to do after university and gaining experience in order to achieve this. Without a doubt, this has been one of the most positive things of this year as it now feels as though I’m working towards something after university rather than having the “Oh my goodness, what am I doing with my life?!” 25 times a day. So, I’ve managed to get an internship as a content and social media assistant, I have acquired an abundance of writing opportunities and I’m about to set up as a freelance writer – it definitely feels like a bit of a weight off of my shoulders.

So, let’s actually talk about the main reason for coming to university; the course. I’m a psychology student which means 1) I don’t have many contact hours, so I spend a lot of time not actually on campus, 2) When I am in lectures, I often wonder what is going on and 3) I have the “am I smart enough to be here?” thoughts on a daily basis. Other than that, it’s good. Sometimes I wonder if I should be doing a more creative course, but I do love psychology and, even though my brain hurts after most lectures, I don’t regret my choice.

However, the main thing that I have learnt from deadlines this year is that referencing is the bane of my life. I have said it once and I will say it again, a 2000-word essay isn’t that bad in the grand scheme of things but when you’re expected to find a reference for every single sentence in fear of plagiarism, it does kind of feel like life is being sucked out of you. However, that being said, I haven’t found the deadlines too overwhelming this year so that’s a positive. The exams on the other hand, well, everyone gets stressed about exams, right? Like deadlines, they could have been worse (could have been better too but that’s beside the point).

All in all, this year has been interesting, to say the least. I definitely think that first year is a bit of a learning curve and I’m looking forward to seeing what second year has in store.


Lauryn Mathews

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