Things I Wish I’d Known Before University

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It’s move-in weekend. The car is packed, the paperwork is ready and Mum’s on the verge of an emotional breakdown. That first journey to University is the beginning of far more than another note under the section of your CV that reads ‘Education’. It’s about growing, and discovering who you are as a person.

In that context, it all sounds pretty scary (and it can be – but that’s okay). Yet, as somebody who’s been around the block where Southampton is concerned, there are a few life lessons I wish I’d learnt pre-Freshers which I gift to you now, and that will hopefully make your life that little bit easier!

#1: “Not everything has to be ‘your thing’ “

At University, particularly during Freshers’ fortnight, you’re going to be confronted with 101 different opportunities that all promise a chance to re-invent yourself – but that’s not to say you have to.

It’s quite easy to contract the dreaded FOMO when the entire flat are all heading to sign up for gym passes that you’re not fussed on, or obsessing over the incredible-looking night out that you’re just not feeling because you’d rather have a quiet one. It can be all too easy to neglect the things you actually want to do, in order to do what everybody else is doing. Don’t. The main thing is to ‘have a good time’ – and if that means breaking from the crowd every now and again, then roll with it.

NB: Obviously, Wessex Scene is exempt from this advice and you should all write for it. Often, and plentifully.

#2: ‘Money really doesn’t grow on trees’

We’re all thinking it – though none of us are telling our parents. That student loan is just screaming for a trip to West Quay, and could probably buy you an entire new wardrobe for every season from now until final essay deadlines. Even the most pointless, frivolous spending solutions seem like a superb investment. Don’t do it.

Three months down the line you’ll be wondering where it all went – 98%  responded ‘Jesters’ – whilst you desperately try to keep up the standard of living you’ve become accustomed to, and dread the ‘surprise bill’. Will it be water? Will it be the housing deposit for 2nd year? Spin the wheel!

I’m a firm advocate of ‘treat yo’self’, but sometimes it’s better to keep that wallet feeling heavy and reign it in on the whole spending thing.

#3: ‘Sadly, first year does count…’

Okay, I’ll start this one with an acknowledgement – it doesn’t actually count. Not towards the £27,000 piece of paper we’re all chasing at the end of those three years – but the routines you form in first year can make or break how you approach the rest of your degree.

Sure, we’re all entitled to skip the occasional 9am after staying up for one more (fine, eight more) episodes of that Netflix Original, or singing our tragic hearts out to ‘Mr. Brightside’ at Stag’s Karaoke, but try and keep up with the reading, deadlines and general quality of life needed to function where you can. It proves a lot harder to get the routine back than it is to keep it running from my experience.

#4: ‘Second year houses are aplenty’

Disclaimer: I signed a contract for my second-year house with my existing Halls flatmates just after Christmas in first year – which by the standards of what I’m about to preach is a bad idea – but arguably it was the best decision of my life.

The point is don’t feel pressured. You’ll be led to believe all the best houses are going, going, gone – but they aren’t. Take your time, make sure the group dynamic is still ‘on point’ and don’t settle for a house that’ll cause you more grief than happiness.

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Head of Events at the Wessex Scene. Often found working in the motorsport paddocks of the world, or enjoying a cafe breakfast. Self-titled comedic genius, notorious wearer of Union-branded clothing.

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