Two years ago today I wrote my first post on university, Things I Wish I'd Known Before University, chronicling the ups and downs of my fresher life at Durham University. A couple years on and I've graduated with a first class Chemistry BSc and I am finally about to enter the real world, as hideous as that sounds. Here's a few of the things I've learnt since those hazy first few months at uni...
Its the people who will make it
Uni isn't truly just about education, independence or booze fueled nights out. Its about finding the right people, and clinging on to them for dear life. They are your lifeboats in this crazy journey people call university. They will be the people who pick you up off of club floors, sit with you while you're breaking down over exams and push you to the limits of who you once thought you were. If possible, grab a few people from your course and force them into your life; working together never hurt anyone! The social hierarchy which was once in place at school is no longer an issue; make friends with people who make you happy and who bring out the best possible side of you.
There will be downs
There is literally nothing in nature that blooms all year long, so do not expect yourself to do so.
That quote resonates with me a lot more now I'm older. You won't always have a peachy life, not everything will go well, people won't always be nice, you won't always be happy. But here's the thing. Time heals. Everything. So while you might be crying your eyes out about that shitty mark that that shitty supervisor gave you (can you tell I'm bitter ha?) you won't be sad forever. The problem that you're obsessing about won't be an issue in a few weeks. So take a few hours, cry it out and then push through it; know that you won't feel like this forever and things will get better. And worse. And then better again. University moves so fast and everything is such a whirlwind that things can be magnified to almost unmanageable proportions but they really, truly, honestly will be some of the best years of your life if you let them be.
Living out of halls/college is a learning curve
There aren't any porters to look after you when your shower starts leaking out the door, or any people to run to when the neighbours are making too much noise. You're on your own, and the house is usually falling down, and the pipes are leaking through the ceiling, and the washing up is always mounting up. But if you're with the right people, all the things that go wrong are slightly more bearable. I lived with my 4 best friends for 2 years in the most beautiful house and I never had any housing regrets, but be careful in first year who you sign for a house with. While the home comforts of living with the rents is lovely, there's nothing quite like being surrounded by your best friends at all hours of the day.
Somehow drinking won't be your priority anymore
For me at least, something just clicked a couple of months into third year and clubbing was not a thing I wanted to do anymore. The constant cycle of drinking and hangovers started to take its tole and rather than relishing in the 'hilarious' stories of last night, I was often just left feeling empty. Combined with the fact that I simply could not afford to lose anymore days of dissertation writing to hungover eating and moping in bed, I almost completely gave up the clubbing scene. And I feel a hell of a lot better for it.
I really hated my subject
To be honest, a lot of people do. Especially when surrounded by chemists, I'd say around 30% actually enjoyed our degree, while the other 70% were ploughing through to the light at the end of the tunnel, ie hopefully a good job. This makes your degree a living nightmare, which you never really escape from because of the guilt when you're not working.
There is a statistic that 70% of Durham graduates meet their spouse at the university. Whether or not this is utter bullshit is irrelevant. I was surrounded by couples through most of my last years at uni, at one point I looked around and realised I was 9th wheeling. Quite an achievement really. While it can be lonely being single at uni sometimes, it really does teach you that your worth is not based on what you look like or who you call your partner. Your degree is for you and no-one else, don't let anything get in the way of you achieving your dreams.
For the better. Hopefully. Three years ago I was timid, naive and unsure of who I was or wanted to be. And I probably still am all those things. But any progress is good progress (my ultimate favourite university motto) and being thrown into an unfamiliar environment and forced to make new friends and have new experiences is the ultimate stepping out of your comfort zone kinda progress. Which is always a good thing.
You will miss it when its over
Like crazy. I don't think my head has yet understood that this isn't summer for me now, this is life. Come September, I won't be trundling up North for another year of debauchery combined with chemistry books. Real life is weird, and stressful and terrifying, but I'm excited to see what the future holds.