What first year has taught me

As I sit here in my beloved student accommodation bedroom surrounded by a maze of boxes containing various miscellaneous items packed to go home for summer, I decided to reflect on my first year at University and what it’s taught me.

For those who may not know me personally, I have just finished my first year studying Journalism at University. And oh boy, what an experience it has been. I won’t lie, there have been many ups and downs, but that’s all part of the learning experience.  

It’s fair to state that the first year of University isn’t guaranteed to be plain sailing. There have been moments of doubt and upset. But they are far outweighed by the moments of self-assurance and enjoyment that University provides. I guess that’s what makes it all the more rewarding.

Now, I’m not going to lie, University is a huge step up from sixth form/college education. For me, thoughts of “Am I going to fit in?”, “Am I good enough?”, “What if I can’t do this?” flooded my brain like a tidal wave in the weeks approaching my start date.

But if there’s anything I want to emphasise the most, it’s that these feelings are completely normal! I guess feeling nervous about it is a good thing, because (in a way) it shows you care. It signifies that you want to achieve the most you can from your years in education. I suppose I made this transition fractionally harder for myself by choosing a University 194 miles away from home… whoops! But, if I’m honest, you hardly notice the distance.

Why?

Because University forces you to be independent.

You’re put with a group of random people whom you’re expected to live with, you have to cook for yourself, do your own laundry etc. But is that as daunting as it sounds? Heck no! It’s part of transitioning into adult life, and I can safely say I have met friends for life here: both in my accommodation and on my course.

Alongside this, University also teaches you two kinds of confidence.

The first of which is having confidence in your ability.

Think about it like this, everyone is in the same position at University. Everybody starts off University as either a hungover, or non-hungover fresher, just getting to grips with this change in lifestyle. Sure, there’s bound to be people who are better at a certain module than you, but that’s nothing to worry about. I have, and will, continue to stand by the motto that so long as you know you’ve worked as hard as you can, nobody can ask for anything more.

The second of which is being confident in yourself.

In a way, I’m disappointed in myself for going through the majority of my life (thus far) with a “can’t do” attitude which once gnawed away at my self-confidence like some demonic hamster. But believe me, this is thrown as far out of the window as possible once you reach University. There’s no time for that, it forces you into a “can do” mindset which I find I am adopting more frequently – good riddance!

Alongside confidence, University has also taught me patience. I guess one of the flaws of being a millennial and living in such technological advanced times, is that you expect everything to happen at the click of a finger. I suppose my lack of patience in some aspects of life form some of my biggest regrets. And no, I don’t mean regret in a sense of eating the rather ‘hunt the toast’ cheese toastie I decided to make for lunch today… somebody send me some digestion tablets!

Patience is one of life’s greatest lessons. I guess being impatient when it comes to the final 5 minutes before an exam isn’t all bad but being generally impatient never helps a situation. Afterall, what’s the point in getting unnecessarily stressed and impatient about something which will be ok in the end?

The third, and final, thing that my first year at University has taught me is independence. Now, I’m not talking about having to cook for yourself as I briefly mentioned above, I’m talking about the freedoms University provides. Growing up in a relatively small, countryside village has meant I’m not exactly acclimatised to a city environment. However, this hasn’t phased me.

The freedom to be your own individual person is a feeling I can’t put into words. The sense of finding yourself and where you want to be in life is worth more than words can express. University is home to a hub of aspirations. Everybody comes here with a passion to study a certain subject and start their career. In other words, the freedom to choose who you become later on in life is a feeling not even a good motivational speech or song could express.

You see, at University, everybody is original. Everybody has a certain subject they love and want a career in, otherwise they wouldn’t be here! To me, that’s all the inspiration required to bring out the best in myself, free from the prison of self-doubt that held me captive throughout my time at school and sixth form.  

I suppose what I’m getting at is that University allows you to be whatever you want to be; to uncover your potential, passion and enthusiasms in life. I can truly say that University has lived up to every expectation I held and I cannot wait to start second year come September 2019.

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