All the freshers have begun arriving in Loughborough which has begun making me nostalgic. Three years ago I was a fresh faced eighteen year old and my Mum cried when she left me in William Morris and now I’m a haggard looking twenty one ear old whose Mum didn’t even ring her before leaving to go on holiday. Three years is a long time, but it seemed to go ridiculously fast. Time flies when you are having fun, doing shots, procrastinating and writing essays, apparently. Reminiscing about the past three years where I was a carefree eighteen year old to becoming a semi functioning adult made me think about how universities should tell students to prepare them for life post one pound shots and free stash.
1) It won’t fully sink in that you aren’t going back to university until September.
Remember all those hours spent slaving over your dissertation, then finding out your final degree grade and walking across the stage to get your degree certificate? Well, it’s amazing how the summer can give you temporary memory loss. You may have moved all your stuff back home but from June until the end of August or whenever you start your new job, you can conveniently forget that you are no longer a student and are getting pocket money from Student Finance and are actually required to be a functioning member of society. However, as your university puts begins excitedly promoting all things fresher related on social media, and you see that freshers no longer only look younger than you, but barely old enough to buy a lottery ticket then reality begins to sink in.It’s also a tad heartbreaking, like you have been ditched by your boyfriend/girlfriend for a younger more attractive prospect. You gave the university thousands of pounds in tuition fees and the union at least half of your student loan through buying their drinks, and then you are nothing but a distant memory to them Alongside this, there is the realisation midday naps are no longer a thing unless you are willing to crawl under your desk in your lunch hour and curl up in a ball, and waking up with a tequila induced hangover on a Monday is no longer socially acceptable unless you enjoy being unemployed and suddenly, you have to start paying taxes (I’ll come back to them later).
2) Getting a hobby if you don’t already have one is critical.
Over the summer, I spent half my time living in a tent at a festival, and the other half curled up in a ball on the sofa recovering.Then I started work and I basked in the glory of finishing at five and not having to worry about essays or the books I should have read for my seminars but hadn’t even read one word of. However, about three weeks in I began to feel restless, and miserable. With no degree, having taken an unintentional hiatus from writing and blogging and being too poor until pay day to begin indulging in one of the things on my to do list such as learning a new language and finally learning to cook meals more complex than Chicken stir frys and Spaghetti, I was bored and it was making me miserable. Being someone who requires constant stimulation, going from always being busy to being not so busy was a huge shock and I kind of wish universities provided support groups for their graduates to help aid the transition from university life to post university life.
3) Taxes are a thing
Obviously, I have been aware that taxes exist. The concept has always confused me somewhat because you are always told you pay taxes but the money is subtracted from salary before it even reaches your account, you don’t give it, it is wickedly snatched from you by David Cameron and his merry men. The only thing I knew about taxes was that I didn’t pay them because I was a student. However, one evening I sat down and decided to work out my monthly income and outgoings which required me working out how much I was going to be taxed. Initially, I was cool with it and THEN i learned that I also have to pay council tax on top of this which annoyed me because the council (in Sheffield, at least) only come collect the bins twice a month which is unacceptable in my eyes, and the state of some of the roads in Loughborough is ridiculous, I would actually get more satisfaction from burning the amount of money I have to pay in council tax as opposed to giving it to the council.
4) If you aren’t careful, you become illiterate very quickly.
Unless you are in a literature heavy job, you probably won’t have to write extended essays for a very long time. I discovered that work emails are actually quite informal with smiley faces and multiple exclamation marks as opposed to the formal nature of the ones my lecturers sent with perfect punctuation and the odd word I didn’t understand. Thus, after deciding to take a break from any reading for the summer (The Daily Mail with their various typos was as intellectual as I got) and not really writing that regularly I discovered that my the level of my writing was at Primary school level on a good day.
5) You will probably never want to go back to uni.
Despite the initial post university depression and required transitional period, once you find a job that you you enjoy waking up and going to in the morning and have the a monthly salary going into your account then you begin to stop looking back at university life with longing. The spontaneous nights out and ”optional” 9:00am lectures might have been fun, but being able to afford nice vodka and not Tesco Value Paint Stripper is nice, as is being able to afford meat every month and not just the month when your student loan goes in. Ultimately, university life is great but what makes it so great is the fact it is ,seemingly, fleeting. There comes a time when the student lifestyle becomes unfullfilling. Living your life to the fullest for many eighteen year olds is waking up with as many hangovers as possible whilst still getting good grades, by the time you are twenty one you have, at least slightly, evolved.