I’m struggling to believe it’s been nearly two whole years since I started university…the time really has flown by. I thought I’d continue my student summer series by talking about what really worried me before starting university.
This time two years ago, I was focussed on one thing, and one thing only; results day. I don’t mind exams, but I always think I’ve done worse than I really have; I was terrified I wouldn’t get in. I didn’t (and still don’t) have a backup plan – I want to be an actuary, and that’s it! I needn’t have worried as I ended up with a rather respectable A*AAAa, although I do admit to being a teeny bit disappointed! Once I had my place confirmed, the real worries kicked in…
My biggest worry was that of leaving my boyfriend behind. You can see my tips for a long distance relationship on a post a few weeks back, and I am planning on writing one more specifically for students. Thinking back two years, I was terrified to jump into long-distance. I was a phone-call away from changing university to one closer, I got more tearful the closer term became and we had some pretty meaningful conversations in those weeks. My worries ranged from him finding someone better, to just not being able to cope…all of which were unfounded! I can’t say it’s easy, but without a doubt it’s worth it!
Academically I worried I wasn’t going to be good enough. I had a bit of a nightmare in my last maths exam at A-Level – something inside me panicked, and I spent the whole time in tears. I knew the material inside out, but I barely answered any questions. Pretty sure I cried for days afterwards – I felt like I’d let myself down! I still feel that way about that exam; it was significantly lower than everything else and lost me the A* I was virtually guaranteed. It also knocked my confidence completely, and I certainly didn’t think I’d be okay with the course! If I couldn’t ‘do’ A-Level maths, degree level would certainly be out of my reach! To be honest this feeling didn’t disappear for a good few months, and I do still have wobbles. Just remember they wouldn’t have accepted you on the course if you weren’t good enough!
I worried about leaving home – I have a great relationship with both my parents and little sister, and I knew I’d miss them. I did miss them, and still do, but I actually found leaving home easier than I expected. I think it helped that I had nice rooms; even if my housemates weren’t perfect in first year I still had somewhere nice to hide away! Skype is a godsend, although I’ve never actually Skyped my family successfully. Instead I talk to them on the phone, regularly, for a good while. Something I really recommend is ringing if you are walking to/from lectures on your own, makes you feel less lonely!
I worried about feeding myself – I was a good cook, but I was worried about the kitchen, whether I’d be too tired etc…all unfounded worries really when you read back over my blog! Best advice I have is to practise over summer, do a big shop (with parents’ money!) when you move in, and stick to simple recipes.
Money was a huge worry for me. I’m one of the awkward people whose parents earn enough to get me minimum loan, but not enough to hugely help me out. They do the absolute best they can, and I’m hugely grateful for everything they do – but I can’t lie and say it’s been easy. There’s been times (start of first year, finding a place for second year) when I have had to really beg and borrow funds as I literally didn’t have the overdraft or credit limit to cover it. The upshot? I’ve become damn good at budgeting, cheap meals rock, and I have saving installed on the brain for my placement year. To my parents – thank you for going without when I’ve really needed help!
I worried about not drinking. I’m not a huge fan of alcohol; it doesn’t mix with my body well and I actually feel quite ill when I drink it. Don’t get me wrong, an occasional cider or cocktail is something I will go for, but its rare. I have to admit this has been the most difficult part for me, as a lot of people are really rude and judgemental about my attitude to drinking. Even friends who claim not to be actually really upset me occasionally – but I’ve learnt to live with it, and I now feel happier as I’m not conforming to peer pressure. I even played drinking games with a cup of tea…
And finally? I worried about fitting in. I’ve found it hard to make friends quickly since a child; generally when I do become friends with someone it’s for life, but that bond takes a while. I was actually really lucky in that I met some amazing people on my first night – I lived with two of them in my second year, and miss them immensely during holidays. I met my third housemate in the very first lecture, and again she’s one of my closest friends – I was so lucky to meet them all so quickly. In fact, the people I met in the first week are the people I still spend most of my time with. I recommend using facebook groups to find people on your course or in your accommodation – that’s actually how I found most of my friends!
Worrying about it is a natural part of any change – and starting university is a massive, massive change. But I can virtually guarantee you that everyone else will have similar feelings, and someone will have gone through the same.
What were/are your biggest worries about starting university?