My university career thus far can be broken neatly into three bits:
1st year, when I slammed my foot on the accelerator and rolled the windows all the way down.
2nd year, when I stalled and couldn’t remember where first gear was.
And 3rd year, where I have now stopped caring where any of the pedals are and would much rather just freewheel down a hill and see where the road takes me.
Like any first year, I got things wrong. I assumed things that weren’t true and made mistakes that almost cost me a grade, but just like any other first year, I grew and gained enough experience to debunk the assumptions of my first-year self.
Myth: The people you meet in freshers week will be your friends for life.
Fact: Out of every person I spoke to during my first year, I only regularly meet with one of them now. There are the ones I exchanged names with at some society or another and forgot their faces by the next morning, there are the almost-friends that never worked out, and there are the classmates that I’m friendly with but rarely see outside of seminars. It’s impossible to count how many times my younger self latched onto the first “hello” out of a new person’s lips and flashed forward through the years of our blossoming friendship until we were both old and grey. When we lost touch and never met up again, I was, inevitably, disappointed. I was also disappointed to reach second year and realise my social life wasn’t all that I had hoped it would be by this point, but within the second semester, by sheer chance, I met some great people who I can see myself being friends with for a long time yet. Acquaintances come and go, and you shouldn’t get wound up in holding onto every person you speak to. It takes a bit of hard work, a little perseverance and a lot of patience, but eventually, the right people will come along – even if it takes you until third year to find them!
Myth: Tutors and advisors will be able to help you out 100% of the time.
Fact: Sometimes, you need to have your own back. While tutors and advisors provide a great support system for your academic studies, they too are people who live busy lives. Sometimes, you will be amidst a crisis with only an hour until essay-deadline, crying as you wait desperately for the beautiful sight of Inbox (1). But sometimes, your tutor will not make it to your email in time, or like humans do, they might forget to reply. It’s times like these you need to take matters into your own hands and know that you are responsible enough to find a fix and no number of unread emails will stop you getting that A grade. So if the situation calls for it, use that integrity of yours and take matters into your own hands.
Myth: Your seat in the library is Yours and will always be there for you.
Fact: There’s no easy way to break the news on this one. Sometimes you will arrive at the library ready to work and have your work ethic crushed by the sight of a stranger in your favourite spot. It sucks. Glare at them from across the room if it helps you feel better.
Myth: You will frequently attend every society you signed up for at freshers week, and they will become your new second family.
Fact: You will never be able to keep up, or even try out, every single society you signed up for during fresher’s week. Some of those sign-ups came from a place of genuine interest that just didn’t work with your timetable, and others were just bad mistakes that are better forgotten. Even then, once you narrow down the societies to those that work with your busy student life, you might find you just don’t enjoy the activity you signed up for, or you don’t click with the people, or maybe you find you just don’t have time for that seventh society and synchronised swimming was the one that had to go. You might turn up for the first social event of your preferred political party and hunt around Liar for an hour in search of them, or you might sign up for a society and never hear back from them until third year, but eventually, you will find your clan. Stopping and starting and switching around is absolutely fine, and no one will judge you for jumping between societies like a bee between flowers because the real beauty in the fresher’s fair is the opportunity for experimentation.
Myth: You will be the epitome of organisation, and those notes will stay pristine all year.
Fact: By week four you’ll have given up the facade of neatness, and you won’t be able to read any of your notes. You will also substitute getting ahead on essays with endless hours doing personality quizzes, but procrastination is all part of the university package. As long as you get the work done, you’re allowed to indulge in finding out what flavour of crisps you are based on your zodiac sign.