1. Fitting In
Without sounding too proud, I didn’t think this would be a problem as I’m generally quite a chatty, confident person. Little did I know that my first day of Uni would be spent floating around some benches, pretending to read a book in the gaps between classes, desperately looking around for others in the same situation. Fact: I’ve eaten lunch in the toilet before a la Katie Herron in Mean Girls. Foul experience. It seemed that after the first week, everyone had formed a clique rapidly, and I had missed my chance. I joined the cheerleading club for a week but hated it because the girl who ran the classes was like Miss Trunchbull on speed. Very few of the girls had any gymnastic experience whatsoever and she had us doing tosses and all sorts on a hard wooden floor. Needless to say I didn’t go back.
BUT here’s the biggie: Everyone from further away in the UK or international students spent their first year in halls of residence. After the first night out they were all best friends, joined clubs together, got jobs together… At this point I was still trying to work out how to get in the library. Instead of living in halls and flourishing in the university environment, I got a flat with my friend from school who was at a different university. Don’t get me wrong, we had the best time, and we went on lots of nights out, but with friends we had from home.
Two years later, my boyfriend came to the same uni and as he is from my hometown, he had the same problem. We literally just kick around with each other, the saddest of all sad acts. I’m past the point of caring. Friends are for losers. (denialdenialdenial)
The point of the story is, to any perspective students reading this, my advice to you is to go into the University’s halls, even if your parent’s house is two minutes from campus. It’s the best way to get involved.
My idea of independence was cooking for myself, maybe a bit of cleaning here and there… mostly partying… But the reality was that before term started, I received an email saying I had to make up my timetable for the year. It was no easy task. The University’s website involved a degree in itself just to work out how to find the class you wanted to add. Everything was in codes, a random array of jumbled up words and the search bar wasn’t working properly so I had to search through EVERY SINGLE RUNNING CLASS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW IN 2011 to find four shitty English and French Classes. The system crashed and nothing saved, and even once I thought I had put everything together successfully, a little notification popped up that told me I ‘wasn’t qualified to enrol in this course.’ Great, Glasgow, thanks. After accepting me a few months ago you’re going to chuck me out again.
They didn’t, obviously, but here’s the moral: independence rears its ugly head in unsuspected ways and makes your life extremely difficult.
For the first few months, you are under the impression that a few lectures a week and a bit of reading here and there will get you through. You develop techniques that makes it appear like you’re doing more than you are (bending the spine on books before you turn up to a tutorial.) In the meantime, your sleeping pattern becomes diabolical. I used to stay up until 4am and end up on those dark corners of YouTube that you didn’t know existed. (Salad fingers.) I would then sleep in until 12pm, missing my classes despite living practically on campus. Then, exams come around, and the objective is to cram as much information into your little fried brain as humanly possible. The result is that you don’t actually learn anything, but retain info long enough to write it out on a piece of paper before it disappears again.
4. Grade Requirements
Alright. It’s never just good enough to pass is it? We want C’s to continue to the next year, they tell you. Then they up their game. They want B’s now. All the while you thought your 42% in a French grammar test was quite commendable…
5. The Snakepit that is The Library
Around exam time, all 14 floors of the library are very tense. It’s quite an experience. People will fight you for a computer. Then, there are those who come in with their own laptop and UNPLUG the computer in front of the to continue their work. Oh, lord, the anger. Students actually created a Facebook page to moan about ‘desk hogs’ (and also to ogle women and ask them out anonymously. See? Snakepit.)
6. PR people and flyers
I don’t fucking want to go to your EctoDiscoHipsterIndieRave.
7. Working things out on your own
See point 1: this is why you need friends. The amount of deadlines and meetings and general knowledge I’ve missed would alarm you. Make at least one nerdy friend who knows exactly what’s going on at all times.
8. Hungover seminars
I’ve overheard people say ‘Yeah, man, I was soo hungover in today’s lecture, I don’t even know how I do it, I’m like, crazy, man.” NOT COOL. This is not cool ever. I have once left a tutorial for a tactical chunder in the bathroom before composing myself and returning to the room, making everyone tipsy with the pure alcoholic vapour reeking from my pores. There are lessons to be learned here.
9. Feeding yourself on £8 a week
When you loan comes in, you buy some clothes, have a few fantastic nights out where you even buy ROUNDS for people, or buy a drink that isn’t on the £1 offer. By the end of the month, the cupboards are looking sparce. You’ve already popped down to the reduced aisle at Tesco at 11pm a few times but it’s running out… I specifically remember making dinner one night that consisted of a heated can of chopped tomatoes with some boiled carrots and tuna. Cupboard food is rank.
10. Your actual degree…
At the end of it all, I’m leaving here with a degree that proves nothing other than I can read books quite well.