What University Has Taught Me...

I guess you could say that university has changed the way I look at things. Coming to university alone and living in a flat with complete strangers is just as daunting as it sounds. Having to prepare every meal for yourself requires organisation and also a knowledge of basic kitchen skills. Money management is harder than it looks and dealing with landlords is a whole other blog post. Here's just a short snippet of what I think have been some great life lessons for me so far...

One of the main things people always talk about when moving away to university is living with others. Most universities have halls of residence that accommodate up to 8 people (Give or take a few) The idea of this can be very daunting. Especially if you've only ever lived at home with your parents. Waving goodbye to your parents as they leave you in a flat with complete 7 strangers sounds like something from a thriller movie. Believe me, it kind of feels like it too. But honestly after about an hour of awkward introductions and nervous laughter we didn't really feel like strangers anymore. We arranged to all go out to the SU that night and well...The rest is history. Living in halls with my first set of flatmates turned out to be one of the best years of my life. I know that not everyone can say the same about who they lived with. I guess I was just one of the lucky ones. 

We (As students) seem to have gotten ourselves a bad name when it comes to cooking and preparing meals. I think it's the adult way of letting the younger generation know who's boss. It makes them feel better thinking they have the upper hand when it comes to working in the kitchen. But after almost two years of living at university now I can say they are wrong. Students are actually really great cooks once we put our minds to it (Floating my own boat here I know) Also, it can work out cheaper to buy ingredients to prepare a proper meal instead of buying ready meals all of the time. So it really does pay to learn to cook. Of course we all love ordering a take away from time to time, as everyone does. (Dominos being my go to!) But you just can't beat a home cooked meal. Especially when you've taken the time to prepare it yourself. 

'Sorry, I don't have any money' Is the phrase I've heard all too often at around the campus. I think there comes a time in everybody's life at university when they find themselves staring blankly at their account balance asking themselves 'A night out? or food?' More often than not it's the night out that wins. Food you can work out another time. Parents *cough*. If university has taught me anything though, it's definitely how to budget. Bills, rent, weekly food shop, social life. Up until this point I've managed okay (Touch wood)  With a few slip ups along the way, naturally. But nothing that couldn't be fixed by missing out on an extra carton of milk off my shopping list or missing an evening out at a bar. Everything is possible once you put your mind to it. Of course having a job helps too. I work part time as an online mentor for students coming to the university and also I have a job in a coffee shop when I'm at home for Summer, Christmas and Easter. So if there's any tips I can give to any of you out there they'd definitely be budget wisely and if you can, then I'd suggest getting a job. Even if it's one day at the weekend, every little bit really does help.

One thing that's guaranteed when going to university is that you'll be meeting a whole load of new people. Some you'll get on with straight away. Others not so much. you'll have to deal with landlords (which can be very stressful) tutors, friends, friends of friends, possible employers. You name it. At university you have to talk to them all in one way or another. One part of me absolutely hates it. But on the other hand I kind of love it. It makes me feel more like a 'real grown up' (What ever one of those is) Being able to phone my mum at the end of the day and tell her I had to talk to the council to order a new black refuse bin and feeling like I've accomplished something. Dealing with people you never normally have to talk to and sometimes stepping outside of your comfort zone to arrange something or confront someone (I.E a tutor, colleague, friend) really can seem like a challenging thing to do. And it really is, but no matter how uncomfortable you feel at the time, or how ridiculous something may seem I can promise you that one day you'll look back and be thankful you did it.

Coming to university has taught me a lot of things. It's let me experience things I possibly wouldn't have been able to experience had I jumped straight into full time employment after high school or college. Despite everything I've learnt so far and no matter how much of an adult I sometimes feel. There will always be days when I DO NOT want to function and would be much happier living life as a 6 year old. FACT! Having said that though. I wouldn't change any of my experiences for the world. Any challenges I've faced or dead ends I've turned down have always lead me to be a stronger/ better person than I was before.


James France

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