The (un) official guide to surviving university.

Sadly, first year is over 😦 Happily though, I survived it, and anybody who saw me at a certain 18th birthday party in October knows that the chances of me surviving the year were slim to none. However, I made it and emerged from first year with my innocence in shreds and a borderline alcoholic, and if you want to emerge in tact like I did follow my guide:

1) Pack minimally

How my Dad’s car will look when I’ve filled it.

I’m currently awaiting to return to Sheffield, and all my suitcases and boxes are packed. However there’s a chance I won’t make it home as my Dad may actually kill me when he sees how much stuff I’m bringing back. I think I may actually have doubled the amount of stuff I have in nine months.

Basically, pack enough clothes for winter, but not so much that the only time you’ll see your wardrobe doors shut is at the end of the year when you’ve packed your clothes away, like me. Take the essentials like a your laptop, textbooks and important documents and other bits and bobs and THAT’S IT. You will actually hate yourself come summer when your parents ditch you and leave you to carry the stuff home yourself.

2) Know your limits, then try and defy them

Monster energy drink is clearly required here.

This relates to alcohol amongst other things. For example, when I started drinking those deadly punches at university it was like entering the ring with Mike Tyson because it always knocked me out and I’d wake up flat on my back at 1:00am with mocking texts from my friends with the odd one asking if I wanted a Papa Simon’s bringing back (no not really). However. after a few months of being careful and not knocking punch back like it was water, I was not only making it out but being responsible and looking after those who were in a bit of a state.

Defying your limits also extends academically, I wrote the infamous 4000 word essay in five days and got a good grade, and I wrote the infamous film essay in five days when I though I had seven (shed a few tears when I found out, I won’t lie). At university, leaving work till the last minute is standard, but you will complete it as it’s the fear of failing and getting kicked out which will ensure you stay afloat, all you need is a lot of Monster energy drink and sheer willpower.

3) You no longer have embarrassing moments.

The one thing that doesn’t need to be set off after a night out.

Well, you WILL have embarrassing moments, but they won’t be called that, they’ll be be called ”banter” which is basically ammunition to embarrass you in front of people with. Whether it’s having your flatmates tuck you up in bed at eleven o clock or having everyone you live with know you had company when the fire alarm goes off at six in the morning and the building is evacuated, it’s guaranteed you will have SOME form of banter used against you, even if it’s not as extreme as the examples provided. All you can do is laugh it off and WAIT for them to mess up, and if karma is on your side, they will. Just make sure you don’t end up topping THEIR banter.

4) Remember sharks are no longer fish

Sharks: not just a fish.

Before I arrived at university, my step brother gave me ”The talk” about predators at university. However, when I arrived I was completely thrown when someone started talking to me about ”sharks”, apparently they aren’t creatures that swim through the ocean preying on fish, but creatures that swim through the crowds on a night out preying on the opposite sex. I became very familiar to this term when I gained a reputation as a shark earlier this year, but just because I talk to males on a night out DOESN’T MAKE ME A SHARK.

I first encountered a shark on my very first night of freshers, in fact I was a lucky girl, I encountered two at the same time who tried to sandwich me – that was terrifying. Although at that point I just referred to them as ”fresher pickers”, as in guys who picked freshers to sleep with, but then I became acquainted with the word shark. Since then I’ve encountered many sharks, I became so well acquianted with one that me and my friends called him ”the Antichrist” and ”the devil himself” because he had no compassion whatsoever, if he looked into a mirror, there would be no reflection. The best way to spot a shark is by looking into their eyes, there is NO SOUL, it’s like looking into the pits of hell; unless you want to be dragged back to their lair for a one night stand – GET OUT OF THERE.

5) If you’re Northern, expect to have your accent mocked.

What you might as well wear if you’re Northern.

If you go to a university which is predominantly southern like mine, then expect to have your little Northern accent mocked. I was completely delusional before I arrived at university; I didn’t think my accent was that strong, in fact, I thought I spoke with received pronunciation. However, cold hard reality hit me when even I could hear my broad Yorkshire accent amongst the softer southern accents.

Since then, I’ve been told I sound like I’m from ”the ghetto” and had the way I pronounce things mimicked and I no longer use a lot of Northern slang because quite frankly nobody understands me, when I mentioned the word ”breadcake” to my flatmates there was just a silence. My real low point came when my Dutch flatmate told me the only person he could understand less than me was a scouser – ouch!

6) Be reckless during your first year

How you should be throughout first year.

This is perhaps the only time when you can have a spontaneous night out and not think ”Oh no, my coursework ACTUALLY counts now!”. I’m not saying just aim for the 40% pass because if you are considering doing post grad then you should have decent grades throughout your years at university. HOWEVER, lecturers know being a first year is all about settling (euphemism for partying) in so they’re a bit more lenient with their marking, so this means you can sack off work for a night out or attempt to do coursework a few days before it’s due in. You’ll hate yourself when you’re sleep deprived and a recluse for a few days, but remember, that night out was WORTH it.

7) Remember that it’s unlikely you’ll be the person you were when you arrived

How I was at the beginning of university.

How I was at the end.

When I look back at pictures of my freshers, I look REALLY innocent and fresh faced, and at the more recent pictures….well, I don’t look so fresh faced anymore. However, I’m thinking of all the things I’ve learnt this year, and not just the academic things (or the drinking games), university is a place where you start to really figure out who you are and what you want and even if you make some mistakes, it doesn’t matter because it’s part of growing up.

Perhaps the saddest part of first year finishing is looking back and realising you’re not the same person you are when you arrived, and when second year finishes, you’ll again be a completely different person. It’s a realisation that you’re finally growing up and shredding those last pieces of childhood. It’s worth it though.

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