There are little to no magical epiphanies revealing exactly where you are meant to end up and who you are to become. In the many open days that I attended, I thought I would fall in love with a university and that would be that. So, obviously, I found that it wasn’t as I had expected at all. The truth is, Southampton wasn’t the perfect university for me right away. In moving in and making it mine, however, it became just that, and I haven’t looked back since.
Everything will seem strange and foreign to start with, and this is because everything is strange and foreign. Think about it: this is a place you’ve perhaps never been to before in your life. The buildings look tall and scary, and the campus looks next to nothing like your sixth form college. I can tell you that when I went to Southampton’s Open Day, I remember looking at this odd-looking silver statue in the courtyard of my halls (Glen Eyre), and thinking, gosh, this looks nothing like I thought it would – as if I were meant to see this place and experience déjà vu right away (but as I said, there really is no magical fairy tale moment). In actual fact, this sculpture was the background of the photo of my first flat night out in freshers’ week. The library, which from open days I remembered as a collection of odd tables and mini study areas, soon became cluttered with memories, my favourite reading spot, and the place my friend and I absolutely lost the plot at 2am trying to get an essay done in time.
Here is the point I am trying to make – a university becomes yours if you make it yours. It becomes home if you make it your home. A whole world is waiting for you, and the fact that you don’t know anything about this world yet should excite you, not scare you. This is NOT to say that I dealt with my impending move-in day smoothly at all. Honestly, just writing that down makes me want to laugh. The weekend before move-in day, I made my parents drive me to Southampton so I could have another look around. I was worrying so much about whether I actually wanted to study here, I dealt with the unknown in completely the wrong way. I wish now that I had just embraced it, because the truth was that my mind was no clearer at the end of that weekend than it had been beforehand. As well as wasting my parent’s petrol and patience, it wasted so much of my own time, too! If there is anything I can say to you now, as a student about to start their fresher’s year, it’s that you can visit all of the help websites you like (trust me, I found them all), ask all of the staff you can find, and worry all summer long about whether Southampton is the right fit for you, but at the end of the day, Southampton will be the right fit for you if you just let it be. Those places you walked around on open days will be full of memories by the end of the first couple of weeks.
What I am trying to say is that there may not be any set reasons why you chose the University of Southampton. The reasons I chose it, in all honesty, were neither ground-breaking, profound, or well-thought out reasons at all. I did the walk from the halls I was going to be staying at to my campus, and I saw a squirrel – tens of squirrels – running skittishly across this beautiful woodland path. And that was it. I could see myself there, and that was enough of a reason for me. When I was online checking out the societies I could join, I couldn’t help but be in awe at this completely new person that I could become. For me, learning all of these new skills, in this completely new environment (surrounded by an abundance of squirrels) is the reason I chose Southampton. And now, it’s only a tiny proportion of the reasons why I love studying here. Embrace it, and I hope you grow to love it as much as I do.