University: Expectation v Reality

I have never done a post like this before, but someone requested it on Instagram and I thought it was a fab idea. There are so many things about university that I just didn’t know, or I expected that completely different was going to happen, so I wanted to shed some light on what I have found. I have been trying to think of a way to share some of my experiences and I think that this is the perfect way to, because I think that people do expect certain things from uni that just don’t happen. Before we start though, I just wanted to say that my university experience is not the ‘normal’ and I have really being enjoying uni, so this is going to come from quite a negative place. Thats just me being honest! However, do not take what I am saying as final. Everyone has a different university experience and this is just a lighthearted way of sharing mine. 

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Expectation: You will be so busy with a full timetable.  

Reality: I currently have 8 hours on my timetable each week, and a lot of them are not registered and non compulsory.

Its actually insane how much spare time I have at the moment, we have a lot of reading and extra work to do but my actual timetable is incredibly bare. That is 100% the biggest thing that shocked me when I came to university as I went from having 20ish contact hours a week to 8 hours. I feel like there is such lack of structure now as since before I can remember I have been going to school from 9-4 Monday to Friday. Its insane how you are paying over 9 grand for something I see for a maximum of 8 hours a week, and even most of them are non compulsory and on lecture capture (that you can watch from the luxury of your own bed… a bad habit to get into but a great one at the same time). I wouldn’t have even moved to uni if I had known that a year ago. My biggest tip would be to enquire about how many contact hours you have actually got for your course on open day and see if it impacts your living decisions at all, as I really wish that I had known how little I would actually be there each week. In hindsight I would have just commuted from the very beginning, as I usually have 2 days off a week anyway (plus weekends) and I only live an hour way, I could have just stayed at home and come in for 3 days. It would have made so much more sense than paying for accommodation I’m barely in, as I just go home anyway due to all the free time I have. Ultimately it depends on your subject, I know that the more hands on science based subjects have plenty more contact hours but it is definitely something to ask on the open days before you commit to an accommodation decision. 

Expectation: You are going to meet your friends for life at freshers 

Reality: This is not always the case 

You meet friends along the way, and I certainly didn’t meet everyone I know now at freshers, so don’t be disheartened if you didn’t have the best time at freshers week. You will make friends even if they don’t all happen in the first week!  I felt bad at first that I wasn’t making friends but then as soon as I stopped forcing it, I made friends with more people who I genuinely got along with, as opposed to just forcing friendships together because ‘I need to make friends’.  I certainly didn’t! I definitely didn’t meet my ’squad’ at freshers and instead have made friends from all different places, and thats the case for most people I think.  Even now, I don’t think I have an actual friendship group at uni and instead many different friends from many different places (course friends, people in my block, friends at my boyfriends uni etc). Theres still people that I’m meeting and getting to know even now after being there for 5 months. I know that a lot of people would claim to have a friendship group, but don’t think that it is the normal because its not. Its just luck if you are close to the people that you live with! 

Expectation: It is going to be a huge step up from A levels 

Reality: Not really…

Im just going to say it now… I find my degree significantly easier than my A levels, which might be a nice breath of fresh air for A level students reading this. I found that A levels were the most intense studying period of my life, and I am not naive to believe that my degree won’t get to that stage but so far in semester 1 I would say it is not really that stressful. I can easily get all of the work done, and I don’t think the content is a huge step up either. For me, the difficulty of content fluctuates and some modules I am better at than others. I have found that I struggle with the subjects that I haven’t done the A level in, and thats natural, but if I have studied it previously I haven’t found it to be very manageable. Expect to do a lot more work if you are starting from zero, for instance I am having to work very hard at philosophy assignments because I don’t understand what is going on and I find it really difficult, so I feel like I have to constantly catch up whereas my economics module is practically just going over A level content that I have already done. Overall I don’t think its harder though, I had a lot more moments throughout A level where I didn’t have a clue what I was doing compared to my first semester at university. If you can get through your A levels you can do a degree, trust me! The only tip I would give you is LEARN HOW TO REFERENCE. You barely have to use it at A level then you are thrown in at the deep end during your first assignment when they expect your referencing to be perfect… which its not going to be. Spend a few hours in summer learning the basics and you will thank me later. 

 Expectation: You are going to be fine living away from home 

Reality: EVERYONE is going to be homesick, no matter who you are 

I knew that I was going to come home a lot, but I completely underestimated how much I would struggle with homesickness. I have always viewed myself as quite an independent person and I thought that university would be ‘good for me’ (which it has been to an extent), but I definitely haven’t flourished like I expected in this environment. I miss home so much! I think everyone is like that though, some people worse than others, but everyone will have had a moment where they want nothing more than to come home and be with their family and friends. Nothing beats being at home for Christmas! 

Expectation: You are going to cook every night 

Reality: You are going to learn the value of a super noodle 

This is a very important one to remember! So many people go to university thinking that they are going to cook lots of healthy dishes, freeze meals for lunch the next day, meal plan each week and go to the gym every other day. And to them people I say put your expectations of yourself in the bin, and get back to student life! But no matter how on the ball you are, you will never cook for yourself each night, either by getting out that ready meal from the back of your cupboard or ordering a Mcdonalds on Deliveroo (yes I have done this numerous times). I cook for myself a lot and I have really enjoyed cooking, but equally when you have a lot of work to do or a particularly busy day then you are going to get them super noodles or a packet pasta from the cupboard and you are going to absolutely love them.  Super quick, super tasty (well kind of) and most importantly no washing up. Bliss! 

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So these are the ones that I have thought of so far in semester 1, and if I come up with anymore in semester 2 I will definitely do an updated version of this in the summer. Mine are all pretty lighthearted but i thought it would be a good way to shed some light for non-university students and give fellow uni students a bit of a giggle. I really want to hear your opinion and some of your answers as I bet there are so many that I haven’t thought of, whats one thing you wish you knew before uni? 

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