Having survived my first semester at university, albeit somewhat haphazardly, I like to think that I have already learned a great number of things with regards to surviving the ‘outside world’. In what I hope will become something of a ‘how-to’ series, I will share my snippets of advice alongside my first-hand woes that naturally stem from a girl who has yet to master the art of living smoothly.
A lot can rest in first impressions- it is the difference between being ‘that intelligent female who knows a lot about 17th century literature’ and being ‘that girl who parades around with yesterday’s lasagne stuck to her face’. And never are first impressions quite so important than when you start university; when every impression is both first and nightmarishly immortal. It’s not breaking news to reveal that a drunken slobbery kiss the night before is a terribly awkward encounter in Tesco’s the day after.
But even those ‘did I really lick his face last night?’ encounters do not compare to the events of my first day of higher education. It started with the mishap we all dread- walking into the wrong class- complete with a sorry face of pleading embarrassment together with lost eyes longing for a hug and a forgiving cup of tea. The mathematics seminar group looked almost offended when I asked if this was the literature seminar. It wasn’t.
But all hope was not lost.
I turned around to see a young man waiting in the seats opposite the room I had attempted to enter. He was witness to my shortcoming and in a blaze of nervous adrenaline I blurted out my unrefined introductions. ‘Are you waiting for this room?’. I was relieved to learn that he was indeed waiting for the same class as me and- seeing a fine opportunity to start my quest for making friends- I began to chant my pleasantries.
‘Oh! That’s so cool! Where are you from?! That’s awesome! I’m from North Yorkshire! I really like your jumper! Do you have any plans for tonight?! That sounds awesome! Me? Oh! I need a night off, had a bit of a mad one last night that ended in me and my flatmates comparing dolphin impressions in the kitchen! …So, is it American literature you’re studying?’
‘Oh no’ he said.
‘I’m teaching it.’
And that is how not to make a fruitful first impression with your lecturers.
Yesterday I befell an inevitable ageing that, as always, provides me with the troubling realisation I am getting old. Yet, as my optimistic flatmate and dear friend consoled me on several occasions, I am no longer an ‘old’ teenager but, rather, a ‘young’ adult. But perhaps that is just an unconvincing attempt of a girl who is half way to forty clinging onto youth like a squirrel to a shining acorn.
But a change in age seems only fitting in my world that, in the past few months, has changed entirely; it seems almost crazy that I am nearing the final few weeks of my first semester at the University of East Anglia.
I awoke on my birthday to a shower of felt-tipped confetti, a bundle of flowers and a room of friends. With a mouthful of cheesecake, an armful of hugs and earful of The Beatles on blast, turning twenty was, in a most shocking turn of events, a most blissful of occasion.
University, thus far, has been a dazzle of successes and failures and the shortness of this post can not reflect the abundance of adventure and the exquisite moments I have had here. In finding friends who are impossibly amazing writers and poets, I am in a sea of limitless inspiration and encouragement. Though living in Norwich still proves to overwhelm me, it is a place I am most glad to have found myself entirely lost in.
Above photographed is my room’s door! How is it that I might have been so lucky as to twirl my fingers around its creators hand?
In only a number of hours I shall be leaving my home town with the destination of university. My suitcases have piled up alongside my nerves and I am quite assuredly terrified.
Though it has been a long time coming, I can not say that I feel totally prepared, for indeed, I don’t entirely know what to expect and therefore what it is I have been preparing myself for. I’ve spent my life in the same old town with the same faces and the prospect of change never fails to leave me a little scared.
My nerves, however, are churning amidst a flurry of excitement; I am truly looking forward to meeting new people and experiencing life outside of my little old town. All my farewells leave me knowing I shall have a great deal to miss in my upcoming adventures…
…but an adventure it will be.
There’s not much I shall expect to miss more than this little kitty.
I would estimate that I have least 43 epiphanies everyday. Some are inevitable insane like my decision to take maths at A-level or waking up at half 6 each morning in order to see more of the day. (Both of these, as you can imagine, didn’t end too well!)
I find it very difficult to trust myself. A thought entirely formed in my frazzled head doesn’t always feel like one I should go by, not least dedicate time to.
Yet, on the rare occasion, my leaps of faith turn out for the better.
For example, one of my new years resolutions (yes, I occasionally conform to society’s trivialities!) was to start only drinking water and whatever the date is today will be the number of days I have stuck to it.
Although that means I have given up my beloved cranberry juice and my bladder appears to take great joy in waking me up at crazy hours in the night, I have already started to feel better for it.
Not so long ago I had a potentially life-changing epiphany. I spent many hours and days arguing with myself, trying to convince myself that it was just another of my crazy ideas spouted from a mind that isn’t always the most solid. But, there was no talking myself out of it.
After the reassurance and even encouragement of my family, friends and teachers my one-off epiphany I had at 3 in the morning has now turned to reality.
Although it may not seem like a big deal, in fact the more I think about it, the less big it becomes, I have decided to spend another year in my home town before leaving for uni.
This isn’t because of my grades nor is it due to some aspiration of mine to see all corners of the world before my nineteenth birthday.
I’m doing it entirely for myself.
Before I leave my home I want to be the best person I can be and I know what I need to change in order for that to happen. I want to undo my mistake of taking maths and complete an A-level in art, amongst other things.
I now feel a lot less pressure and I’m happier for it.
Just don’t be afraid to occasionally trust your early-hour epiphanies, even if you know that they will seem even a little crazy the next morning.
As a British citizen, modesty has become almost a second language to me. Here, if you even find yourself wanting to share the news of your pet squirrel’s second place in a grooming competition, you will be labelled a snob and have your name removed from every scone-party guest list accordingly.
Well, it’s something like that.
This has proven to be a real issue lately as I am taking just another step into adulthood via the creation of my personal statement.
Basically a C.V., the personal statement is every egotist’s paradise as you’re expected to write around 500 words that should somehow convince another human being of your excellence.
This is the time when occasionally walking your grandma’s dog becomes ‘volunteering for the elderly’ and playing a game of cricket for your school when you were 12 becomes ‘having an active role in the school’s sports team’.
But just as I thought I was running out of things to write myself, I just happened to stumble upon this beauty…
… looks like I’ll be bouncing my way to university!