Uni: Expectation vs Reality

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Let’s start from the beginning- Fresher’s week, where legends are made, and uni myths are quashed. Freshers is always an interesting time for everyone. We’re thrown into a new unknown environment, we meet so many new people, we endure the social awkwardness that comes with meeting so many new people. But that’s what uni is all about, meeting new people. Plus, you never know, the hot girl/guy/gender fluid individual you met at last week’s rave could end up being the love of your life, the apple of your eye, the Selasi to your Benjamina. Well, probably not to be honest. While some of us can’t resist entertaining the thought that we’ll bump into ‘the one’ on a midnight run to Spar, the research indicates otherwise. The statistics show that only about 20% of British students meet the love of their life at university, and of that group an even smaller percentage end up married. So, sorry to disappoint those of you who thought you would meet ‘the one’ at that ‘Freshers thing’ or some other ‘thing’ (though I’m not saying it’s impossible), the numbers suggest otherwise. In fact, your odds would be better if you tried looking almost anywhere else, even Church apparently.

I won’t lie to you, I honestly expected to get to university and in no time have a mob of friends, best friends even. I guess I unconsciously assumed everyone would immediately think I was cool, and get all my jokes and in no time I would be sitting on the lusciously green grass, laughing out loud with my group of racially diverse besties. You know, like literally every university advert to have ever appeared on TV or print. Instead I’m sat in front on my computer typing about how difficult it is to actually make friends, at least for the first few weeks anyway. Most of us have been best friends with people back home (wherever home is) for so long we don’t even remember how we became friends, and then we come to university and expect to just automatically have new ones. And even though we all get our cliques and BFFs eventually, uni can feel very lonely, not because we aren’t surrounded by great people, but because for a lot of us it takes time to really build a close relationship with someone. And during that time we’re more vulnerable to homesickness, where all of a sudden we long to go back to the people we were more than happy to leave behind just a month ago. And although most of us expect to feel homesick at some point, we can never tell what smell, voice or taste will trigger a memory or that longing for the good old days when mum/dad would wake us up with breakfast just the way we like it.

You, however, probably don’t have enough time to feel homesick because you’re far too busy. Busy partying? Maybe. But probably not. Before coming to uni you probably thought that if you weren’t spending the night studying you would be at a party somewhere drinking and dancing (possibly simultaneously) the night away. Work hard, play hard, right? Not exactly. The truth is, some nights there is nothing else to do but go to the LUSU Annual General Meeting. Some nights till will be a Law Society guest speaker event with the prospects of free pizza on the horizon. Some nights you’re the only one of your friends in the mood to go out. Some nights you’re the only one whose too tired to go out. Some nights, you’ll stay up cashing in your bad luck, some nights you’ll call it a draw. And as depressing as that might sound for some, such is our reality but the good news is it’s actually not such a bad thing.

It’s okay if you’re too busy, or too tired, or too lazy to go to Sugar tonight; or if you’ve tried it a few times and decided it’s just not for you. That’s one of the happy realities of life at university, the fact that we have greater freedom and opportunities to do the things we really enjoy doing. Instead of having our parents or teachers or classmates tell us what to enjoy. Uni is more about independence and self-discovery than anything else, and that is what you should really expect to find here.

Ultimately, it’s up to you whether your Uni experience lives up to your expectations. Study a degree you love, join societies that peak your curiosity, be more open-minded. So when next someone asks you how you’re finding Uni, or what Uni is really like, you can respond with some thoughtful insight instead of the unenthusiastic “Okay, I guess”, I’ve gotten from way too many people so far. Go on, carpe diem, YOLO- try something you’ve never done before, or do something that has simply never been done.

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