Ten Things I Learnt at University

I got my final university results today. And I passed; I officially have a degree after three and a half years.  So in my classic nostalgic “I love to live in the past” fashion, I have been reflecting on my time at uni and everything I have encountered and learnt; It’s crazy to think of the person I was when I first started compared to who I am now. It’s been a heck of an experience. From the incredible friends, to the all nighters and afternoon naps, the gin shots and toast time, the laughter and the tears, the phone calls to home, the “I feel on top of the world” to the “I can’t do this anymore” stress induced mood swings and the “I feel like I’m gonna die” hangovers….it’s hard to believe that I’ve actually got myself a degree amongst all of this.  I know these have been and always will be remembered as some of the best years of my life. And as much as I love to complain about university during its stressful times, I feel like I’m already starting to mourn the fact that it’s all come to an end, because despite the bad times being awful, the good times have been beyond great, and all of it in it’s messy yet extraordinary entirety has been the best experience of my life so far.

Aside from my degree, university has taught me so much about life, love (both for myself and others), maturity, responsibility, and friendships. So I thought I would share 10 things that came to mind when I thought about what I have learnt at university.

1.Friends are Everything

I have always valued my friends throughout life, but university has definitely given me a greater appreciation for them. I live in a flat with six other girls, and being away from home and not having my family around me means that these girls have become my family. They are the people I come home to after a hard day. They are the people that have stuck with me through my stupid mistakes and loved me when I haven’t been very loveable. I truly feel that I wouldn’t have stuck with university or persevered through my degree if it wasn’t for them.

2. Everyone is different

University exposed me to such a wide cross section of my generation. I feel like when I was at high school everyone was trying to fit into a specific mould, and I felt this particularly because I went to a single sex private school. For example, I remember in year 12 it was considered very odd that I didn’t own an iPhone or a piece of Karen Walker jewellery (God plz forgive me for I have sinned). My school wasn’t as clique-y as other schools, but there was some sort of popularity hierarchy that was still well obvious. At uni, people honestly don’t give a fuck if you have an iPhone or Karen Walker jewellery or not. Popularity isn’t enough of a thing for people to care about, despite there still being the obligatory group of exclusive law girls. Differences are celebrated. People wear weird AF clothes on campus and people just accept it. Students express who they are more openly and freely than I had seen before, and not only that, differences are much more widely accepted.

3. You are capable of more than you think

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have sat in the library late at night, assignment due the next day, head in my hands, thinking “I literally cannot fucking do this anymore” (lmao I’m so dramatic). But seriously, there have been so many times I have just felt like giving up because I was so exhausted and frustrated and unmotivated. But every single time, by some miracle, I managed to make it through. I handed something in, even if it was absolute bullshit and barely scraped a C grade. I always managed to pull off a pass somehow. And it made me realise that in situations of absolute dire desperation, when everything just feels dark, there is always a tiny part of you that is able to push through.  You are capable of achieving things that at the time feel impossible.

4. It’s okay to have no idea what you want to do

It’s so stupid that we have it drilled into us at high school that we need to have a direction or a career path we want to pursue when we leave. Majority of the people I know have changed their course at university at least once, myself included. Because the truth is, things can turn out to be very different than what you imagine them to be; you might end up hating a course that you thought you would love. Sometimes all we can do in life is take each day as it comes and not worry about the fact that we have no idea what we want for our future. I very strongly believe that timing is everything, and life just has this funny way of working things out for us, so even if you feel like you’re floundering at university with no idea what you want, time will bring you the answer eventually.

5. Having time to yourself is vital

This may apply more to some people than others, but being an introvert myself, I have definitely found that having time to myself is important, and getting away from the university environment from time to time has done wonders for me. University can be overwhelming. Living in a residential college with 200 other people is a lot. Flatting for the first time is a lot. Figuring out who you are amongst all of this is a lot. Sometimes you need a break from the people around you, and that’s ok. Look out for your own needs.

6. Think of your bigger picture

Keeping perspective that is relative to you is so important at uni. You are on your own journey, and your bigger picture will be different to everyone else’s. It’s easy to get caught up in comparing yourself and your experience to what everyone else is doing. For myself, I’d never been too fussed about grades, I worked hard but if I got a C every now and then it didn’t bother me too much. If you’re trying to get into medicine or law, then obviously grades matter more, so your bigger picture is going to be different to the next person.  When I looked at my own bigger picture, I knew that I was not competing to get into a specific programme, I was only competing against myself, and sometimes it was more important to me that I didn’t sacrifice my mental health in order to get top marks, so I was ok with getting average grades and just enjoying the uni experience, which some people may disagree with, but hey, it’s my picture, not theirs.

7. Being passionate is cool

University is full of so many energetic, forward-thinking, passionate individuals. As a collective I found we are so engaged in everything going on in the world and we are not afraid to start discussions about it.  Students come together and take action, they organise protests, they fight for what they believe in and are passionate about, and most importantly they support one another in doing so, and I’ve found that truly inspiring. It comforts me to know that taking a risk, and stepping out and saying “hey, this is something I feel really passionate about” is something encouraged in the university environment.

8. Being sick sucks

Being sick at uni fucking sucks. It’s not like primary school where you get to sit in front of Disney channel sucking lemonade popsicles for a week straight and then returning to school feeling like you haven’t missed a thing. Being sick at uni is having to look after your own sorry ass because your mum isn’t there to nurse you back to health. Not to mention cough medicine costs an absolute bomb and taking a few sick days from uni is inevitably accompanied by stressing about any important content you’re missing. So don’t get sick. Take your vitamin C kids.

9. Home will always have a place in your heart

I always used to hate on my home town. We suffered two big earthquakes when I was in high school, and as a result the city became one big messy construction site. It felt like I was living in a hole with everything falling around me. It took me leaving my home town to realise how much I appreciate it. Going to a new city for university meant that every time I came home I felt this strange sense of comfort and reassurance in the familiarity. I now know that wherever life takes me, and no matter where I may travel over the world, that I will always have a connection to home, a small part of me will always be tethered to this place.

10. University is more than a degree

Whenever it seemed like I was having too much fun at uni, or focussing too much on my social life as opposed to my academic life, my parents would always remind me “you’re there to get a degree”, which is true. The sole motivating factor that brought us all to this place was to get a degree. But, in saying that, can’t we also acknowledge that university provides us with so much more than just a degree?  When you take into consideration all the things I’ve learnt from my uni experience, shouldn’t we appreciate the fact that we are not just at uni to obtain a higher education, but also to gain life long friends, to learn to accept other people, to cooperate with flatmates you may not like, to learn how to cook and look after ourselves, and survive on a tight budget, to figure out who we are and what we want from this life. I dare to say that all these extra bits that are part and parcel of the university experience have been more valuable to me than my degree ever will be.

To all of you students out there still battling through your degree, keep going. You got this.

Love from a fresh faced graduate,

S x x

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