Sunday, 7 September 2014

Inspiration Hour: My University Experience

I have to admit, I've really been putting off writing this post. I think that's because reflecting back on the entirety of my university experience is a big job, like a really big job - and I only graduated 2 months ago! But I really enjoy reading/watching other people talking about their university experiences, so I've decided to talk a little bit about mine, and hopefully give some tips to any freshers or unhappy university students out there!

My university experience was admittedly quite turbulent. Within it I survived essay stress, bereavement, diagnosis of learning difficulties, loss of friendships, and the break up of two relationships. There were many times at university that I was very unhappy, and regretted even attending. But now I look back, I realise that I've gained so much from university and have had the opportunity to become a more confident, happy, well read person, with some wonderful friends and brilliant experiences to look back on. Here are some of what I see as the main advantages of my own university experience: photo graduationjpg_zps6e0a4ac7.jpg
Looking like a massive dork in my robes

1. Living in London
When else would I have been able to get the opportunity to live in London with such a significant amount of state help (i.e student loans)? So many of my friends were put off of living in London because of the expense, and though that is certainly an issue, alongside the lack of student community that comes with living in such a huge city, but honestly I wouldn't have changed it for the world. The university I studied at, Queen Mary, is also well known for being a very friendly university (and the only campus university in inner city London don't cha know) and I honestly think that it lived up to that. Studying in London gave me the opportunity to have so many wonderful experiences, and was also the springboard for being able to find a job that I love and stay in London, something that can be hard for people outside the city to do.

2. Friends for life
I came to university as a very anxious and naive young person, who came from a very close friendship group, but had never been exactly 'popular' at school, and as a result I really worried I wouldn't make friends. But the truth is, making friends at university really is easy, if you're willing to try new things. There can be a lot of pressure in fresher's week to find your friendship group and stick to it, but truthfully things don't always have to work that way. I found most of my friends after fresher's week, as well as making friends for life through talking to fellow freshers on the internet before I attended (hello, Leigh)! And honestly, the friendships I've made is absolutely the best experience that I will take away from university.

3. Academic insight
I have to be honest, I always felt very out of my depth with my academic work at university. I studied English Literature, but I have never been a naturally academic person, and though I was successful whilst at school, adjusting to the independence and complexities of university work was a huge struggle. After finishing university, I now have a slightly better understanding of why this was, but at times I wondered whether it was right for me. But as one of my best friends Maire once reminded me (thanks, pal) I am so lucky to have had the chance to go to university, and I really do need to remember that. And though I may not have been top of the class, I've broadened the way I think in so many different ways, particularly whilst studying philosophy and theory, which I infinitely preferred to purely studying fiction! I've had the opportunity to read so many books and hear so many different and interesting opinions, and for that university was truly worth it.

4. Independence
Before university, my poor old mum really did everything for me. I came to university not knowing how to do anything, and I honestly look back at myself now and cringe. Sure, my most adventurous meal is probably still a different topping on my pasta sauce, and I'm still slightly embarrassed about my tea making skills, but university really did teach me so much about living in the real world. It was especially intense in London, where I had to learn to manoeuvre the tubes, and accept that I probably wouldn't see a cow or a blade of grass until I went home for the holidays, but the whole experience shaped me as a person, and made me a lot more grateful for the work my parents put into raising me!

So, here are some of the main things I've taken away from university, which I hope can be helpful to some of you!

1.  Immerse yourself in the experience
Join societies, write for your student newspaper, go to a fresher's event even if you're not sure you feel like it. Everyone wants to make friends at uni, and even if people rebuff you, they're probably not worth being friends with!

2. Talk to people online before you go.
There are websites like the Student Room which allow you to talk to other freshers, which means you'll be able to have a few people that you recognise and can strike up a conversation with before you even turn up!

3. Academia is important, but it isn't everything.
As I've proven above, there is so much more to university than just getting a degree. It's a great place to find out what you want to do with your life, meet new people and become more independent. Try your hardest on your work, but it's really not worth having a break down over. And if you're struggling, there will be tons of people and organisations at your university which are there to help you!

4. Use university as a springboard for preparing for the future.
Like I said before, don't sweat it too much and start freaking out about graduate life when you're in year one. But do have a look around for part time jobs, volunteering jobs that interest you, as well as getting involved with student societies, which are a fantastic opportunity to build up your skills, and they look great on your CV!

5. Confidence is something that can be learnt.
This is a bit of a random one, but if you're scared about all aspects of university, just think, what's the worst that can happen? Maybe you won't get firsts on every essay or practical, maybe you won't have the wildest freshers week ever, maybe you won't get the role you applied for in the student society. Just think about the amazing experience you're having in the long term, and how little any of that will actually matter when it comes to graduation day!

I hope any readers of my little blog will find this useful, and I hope you all have amazing years at university! It's such an exciting time and shouldn't be wasted worrying or moping in your student bedroom. Get out there and have fun and learn tons of cool new things!

In the comments, let me know about your own university experience, your hopes and fears if you're about to embark on higher education, or any questions you might have! 
Thanks for reading! Belphoebe x Find me elsewhere! Instagram


  1. Beeel i'm gonna cry! This is such a good post, i love your think-piece style things. I am so glad you came to uni even tho it was hard sometimes and that we still live do close and get to hang out all the time xx

  2. I wish I had been able to read this post when I was 18 and just about to start university. I wish that there were more blogs about that kind of thing around when I was just starting out. Now that I've been out of university for longer than I was even there, and I've got a lot of distance from the place, I'm only just about ready to start thinking about how it actually went for me. Anyway, I bet loads of young people will get a lot from this post, so well done and YAY!

    Owl Girl | A London lifestyle blog

  3. Love this post! I've just finished uni and you do come out a more confident person. Definitely the best way to move to London too.


  4. I think you sum up very well the general idea and it is kind and mature from you to list all that up... So university isn't just about reading books ;)

    Love from Paris,


  5. Such a lovely post! I never went to uni and started freelancing when I was about 18, but I'd love to go and study now, as a 23 year old. I think I'd enjoy immersing myself in books for a few years! xx

    The Persephone Complex

  6. Congratulations! That's awesome news and your points are very useful and practical :)
    Will be going into my final year next week waaaah!


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