Monday, 18 September 2017

What My Time At University Taught Me

Right now, thousands of 18 year olds across the country will be preparing for a big change in their life.  Over the next couple of weeks freshers all across the country will be flocking to new cities to start a new chapter.  I can never help but feel a little envious of new students at this time of year, but that's only because I remember when I first moved to uni.  I had a whole new city to explore, new people to make friends with, and a whole host of opportunities just waiting for me to take advantage of.  I remember the day I moved into halls like it was yesterday, and the weeks following were some of the best weeks of my life.

Yes, I came away from my four years of study with a degree, but I also came away with so much more.  University gave me the opportunity to give adulting a practice run, before I eventually stepping out into the big bad world on my own.

The House Mate Situation

I think my absolute favourite part of University was living with my house mates.  Throughout the years I had numerous house mates, who I had some of the best and worst times with.  University was my first time living independently, in another city without my parents to fall back on.  We were all very different people who were brought up in very different ways, so learning to compromise was essential.  On the most part living with the majority of my house mates throughout the four years was a breeze, and I made some amazing memories with them, however, there are always going to be one or two that you just don't gel with.  Compromise isn't going to work between the two of you, and it'll suck at times.  However, I think that living with these people is just as important as the house mates you do get along with.  You learn what kind of person you're able to share your home with, what kind of things you're willing to compromise on, and the kind of person you absolutely cannot abide to have in your home.  As awful as that sounds, this is ok.  At the end of the day, we can't get on with absolutely everybody, so it's good to get to know who those kinds of people are to you.  It's one thing sharing a lecture theatre with a person, but you don't truly get to know a person until you live with them!

Pushing Myself Beyond My Boudaries

I learnt just how resilient I am when I was at University (And sometimes I could do with remembering that when I feel like I'm failing at life now!).  I'm not from a financially privileged background.  I grew up on numerous council estates throughout Sheffield, and my parents are two of the hardest working people I know.  My Mum grafted hard up until the very day she died, and my Dad still does today (Although I really wish he would start slowing down now.).  I went to University with no intention of relying on my parents for money.  I knew that if I really wanted this, I would have to find a way to pay for it myself.  By the time it came to graduation I was working three part time jobs alongside studying for my full time degree.  I did some work for the Students' Union, I worked in a music venue and I worked for a security company on some of the biggest festivals during the summer in between academic years.  I worked all the hours I could, day and night.  My sleeping pattern was shot, on top of completing my assignments (That by some miracle I managed to keep on top of!), and yet somehow I graduated with a 2:2 Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree.  That may not sound like the best grade in the world, but juggling everything that I did, that is a bloody incredible achievement that I'm immensely proud of myself for!

Staying Safe

One of the more not so nice lessons that I learnt at University was to have my guard up on nights out.  Back home in Sheffield with my old school friends, and with my usual group of friends at University, I always felt safe on a night out.  It was an unsaid thing that no matter what we all had each others backs.  We all got into quite some states throughout the years, but we always knew the rest of us would make sure everybody got home safe and sound.  Naively, I thought that because all of my old friends were like this, I beleived everybody else would be like this.

I learnt very quickly this was absolutely not the case.  On a night out with a society I joined at University, I had my drink spiked, and not a single person in my group I was out with looked after me.  I was an inconvenience, so they just left me.  Very luckily for me that evening, a kind female stranger saw that something wasn't right and rescued me, took me to her home and let me stay over until I came around the next day and could get myself home.  I'm very much aware that things could have turned out very differently, so I've been much more on my guard ever since.  I very rarely go out on nights out these days, when I do I go out it's only with my true friends who I know I can put all of my trust in to, and even then I have like this signal that goes off in my head now that tells me when I've had enough to drink.  I barely ever let myself get passed a certain stage anymore.  I'm not saying you shouldn't have fun ever, it's just how I've dealt with what happened ever since.  The most important thing to take away from this story is to stay safe.

Stepping Outside Of My Comfort Zone

Most importantly, University taught me to grab opportunities where ever possible; to step outside of my comfort zone.  When I made the decision to go to Uni, it wasn't just for the academic side; it was for everything else that came along with it as well.  I went to Australia for a month, worked on some of the biggest festivals in the UK, including Glastonbury, Leeds and V Festival, I made friends with people from all walks of life, I got to work at one of the most popular music venues in the UK and get paid to see tonnes and tonnes of musicians.  All this because I made the decision to go to Leeds Metropolitan (Now Beckett) University.  At some points I didn't think it (Dissertation I'm looking at you!), but University really was one of the greatest times in my life.  I learnt so much about myself, met friends who I'm still close to now, made some of the best memories, and of course came out with a bloody degree!  I can have letters after my name if I want to!

University is about so much more then coming out with a fancy qualification at the end of it all.  When you've finished your Further Education course and are considering your next step in life, if university is a possibility, don't just think of the academic side; think of all of the life experiences you could gain along with it.

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