What University is really like…

So many adjectives come into my head when asked this question: scary, busy, freeing, exciting, stressful….

How pretty is our campus?

I am a third year and I’ve experienced so much: I went through the anxiousness of Freshers’ week, not knowing anyone and feeling like everyone knew one another. The amount of work you will get is something you may have never known. Trying to balance a social life, university workload, self-care, family life and sometimes a job can be hard and might at times seem impossible.

But university is something that is real. Real can be scary but it can also be incredible.

The reality

When I first came to university I had so many expectations, it’s something we all have. The freedom of being away from home, living with strangers and doing only one course. But when you get to university sometimes your excitement can disappear.

Homesickness, laundry, work and actual sickness can pile on top of you. We’ve all been there. But you get through it, your parents usher you back to university, they advise you over the phone ‘wrap up warm’, ‘drink lots of liquid’, ‘eat lots of oranges’, you start to realise that through the sniffly noses and piled up books it was and is enjoyable and an experience you’ll never forget.

The opportunities

University is somewhere where you can find friends from all over the country and the world. Everything is there for you to explore who you are and what it means to be independent.

You could take part in a sport you’ve never played, join a society you never thought would exist (Louis Theroux society being my favourite example of this), go on endless pub crawls or culture crawls throughout the city. It’s all there and all you have to do is to take advantage of the opportunities.

University: a rollercoaster

For me, university has been a rollercoaster. I struggled at the start but through the Open Door team at the University, I was able to reconnect with myself. I was reminded of all the hard work I had put into getting to this stage and it made me realise that I needed to make the most of this experience.

In second year I was involved with a student run blog ‘Student Insider’. This encouraged me to set up two blogs for myself. That’s what is truly great about university, I have discovered so many different things I never knew I liked doing. Alongside this and my modules, I found I had a talent for script writing. I have attended several Literature Society events which offered incredible opportunities to connect with people on my course on a deeper level than in seminars.

My daily set-up: diary, book and my mindfulness journal.

The possibilities are endless

Third year and here I am writing for Student Voices. I work for a York publishing company and alongside my studies, I am a part of a book club, I enjoy swimming (check out the two sports centres on East and West campus) and I’ve made so many friends. The possibilities are endless at university and it’s what you do with them that matter the most.

University can be tough, making the step from A-Levels to Undergraduate can be difficult. You may go from being the top student in your class to feeling alone but when you realise so many other people feel like that then campus becomes a less scary place. Even the geese probably feel like this sometimes! Joining clubs, societies, even having a chat with people in your seminars are important steps to take. They make the experience easier.

You aren’t alone

What I want you to know is that you aren’t alone, the feelings you are having are normal and being stressed is okay. But dealing with them is what you must do. Self-care and taking time to relax is something you’ve got to timetable in because if you don’t, then you can burn out. Making sure you’re well-rested and have a balance between uni work, socialising and your own free time is crucial. But with effort and time management, finding the right balance for you is all possible.

If I could go back to my homesick first year self, I would tell myself to not worry so much, to not care what people think about me and to not hide. But maybe being that shy and scared person made me who I am today, someone who has a close group of friends that I identify with and can share those experiences with.

So, whilst University at times can be a struggle. I think the most worthwhile things in life are worth that struggle. It’s a sign you made it.


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Hi, I'm Grace. I am a third year English Literature student who enjoys reading. I love York and how beautiful North Yorkshire is.

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