When you have reached the stage of life where you are beginning university, a lot of people tell you a lot of different things about how your experience is going to be. They tell you things like, “you’ll have so many friends!”, “it’s so social!”, “you’ll never be bored!”, and most commonly, “it’s the best time of your life!”. These don’t tend to be the most useful or even honest insights into life at university.
Remember when your parents told you that dorm life was amazing? They were wrong. Dorm life is probably the worst thing that will happen to you at university. You will have to share a room with a complete stranger, share a shower with your entire hall, you’ll have zero privacy, and if you are stuck with a bad roommate, you will never be able to sleep comfortably.
While there are a lot of fun aspects to dorm life, such as the ability to socialize at all hours of the day, you have to get ready for the fact that it will be nothing like your life at home. It will never feel like your room, your bed, or your home.
How You Spend Your Time
A lot of people seem to have the idea that you are constantly busy at university. They assume that you are either constantly studying or partying, and there is no in-between. This is a big fat lie! While you do have to study a lot, and there are parties every weekend, it will surprise you just how much time you will be spending in your bed on Netflix.
This tends to be a shock for freshmen because they assume that uni life is constantly busy. However, after listening to lectures all day and getting a giant workload for the month, the idea of laying in bed and doing absolutely nothing becomes more and more enticing as the year goes on.
Most students figure this out fairly quickly, but professors at the university tend to be really amazing people. I’m sure everybody will experience a cranky professor once or twice, but the majority of them are incredibly kind and helpful. They want what’s best for their students, and you can ask them any question. They will do their best to help you.
This actually extends to most of the staff at University. People understand that it is an overwhelming place, so everyone tends to be helpful and supportive. It is unlikely that you will be placed with an incompetent supervisor; most people are very nice and helpful. I want everyone to know that they can always ask for help from a professor or member of staff, and it will be given to you.
No One Knows
One thing to keep in mind, and hopefully this will be reassuring, absolutely nobody knows what they are doing. Nobody has it figured out. Everyone is new (well, the freshman and the transfer students at least). Your first week of being on campus will contain constantly asking people where a lecture hall is, the library is, the rec room, and where all the offices are.
You will be completely and totally lost, but it’s okay, so is everybody else! So don’t be embarrassed or hesitate to ask questions. You will not only be lost in terms of your surroundings, but you will be overloaded with new information. It’s not unusual that freshmen feel completely helpless, overwhelmed, and anxiety-ridden in the first couple of weeks on campus.
The good news is all of that will fade. You will learn where everything is and get used to the constant pressure and anxiety within the first month of being there.
No One Cares
Remember high school? Remember when it mattered whether you were “cool” or a “nerd”? At university, nobody cares. There is no such thing as “popularity” at university. Sure, there are those who will make more friends than you, or perhaps you are the extroverted and social one, but bullying due to social status is very rare at University. This is because, at this point, you are all adults, in a new place for the first time, just trying to get by and figure things out. Everybody is in the same boat.
Most university students have a very paradoxical relationship with their workload. University is hard. It is very hard. You will have a lot of work to do (to be completely honest, it’s mostly just a lot of reading and writing). However, you don’t have homework every day, and you only have three or four assignments in class per semester, so it doesn’t seem like a lot of work all at once.
This is where a lot of students make the mistake of slacking off and thinking that they have all the time in the world to work on something. Eventually, things start to pile up, and nobody on campus sleeps for a week when it’s time for the deadlines.
This is perhaps the most important thing to take to university. Having good organizational skills will save your life. Nobody will be reminding you when your papers are due or when your exams are coming up. You have to keep track of all of your assignments and all of your deadlines.
We all know that most students procrastinate until the last minute, trust me, that will be incredibly painful at a university level. This is why self-assessment is important. If you are a chronic procrastinator, planning ahead and sticking to a schedule that you created will save you a lot of stress and sleepless nights.
We tend to associate clubs with high school. However, there are numerous clubs and societies in university that are a great way to make friends and future connections. Remember, the people that you are going to school with are the people who are going into the same field of work as you in the future. It is very beneficial to make good friends, so you have a lot of connections in the real world later on in life when it really matters.
This is something that a lot of students do not anticipate when they first go off to university. You are so excited to start this new chapter and adventure in your life. You are finally moving away from home. You have complete freedom! All of this sounds great, and it actually is the case. However, you will miss home terribly. Everyone gets homesick. It’s completely normal. As a freshman, when you are in your first month away from home, homesickness can hit you like a train.
You will feel fine one day and then be completely depressed the next. You will think about dropping out and going back home. You will cry and call your mom. This is normal. Everyone does it. You just have to muscle through and remember why you’re here; it’s the best time of your life.