Going into the third year and final year of my degree is an immensely bittersweet feeling that has led me to spend time reflecting on my university experience as a whole. I’ve had an incredible time, but there are certainly things I can now say that I wish I had known or would have approached differently. To add to this sense of nostalgia, my younger brother is currently preparing to leave for university. This has offered me the chance to impart many pearls of wisdom, having already been through been through the life change that is first year. There were lessons learned that I would love to tell my first year self if I could, but instead I am passing them on to any of you who are about to start out!
1. Say Yes!
Opportunities are in abundance once you start at university and there really is something to cater for every interest. Be confident about your passions and seek out the spaces where you can express them. You really don’t want to reach the end of your time at university realise you haven’t made the most of what is available. Don’t put things off for a later date. Don’t tell yourself you’ll sign up another time…you never know when a global pandemic could creep around the corner and throw all those plans out the window!
2. Trust your gut
Whilst saying yes is important, if a situation is giving you a certain feeling, trust that instinct. You know yourself better than anyone and are the best judge of what is suitable for you. This can apply to situations, experiences and people- red flags in any of these areas are not usually random. Don’t gaslight yourself and convince yourself you’re overthinking. In the first few weeks, you still won’t know who your true friends are and your friends from home won’t be around to guide you- you only have yourself, and you are more than capable on your own.
3. Your relationships will change
Your friends from home have so far been your greatest support system but it’s important to accept that many of your relationships will change. You’ll make promises to visit all your friends at all their universities but the likelihood of keeping all those promises is slim. You will be busy! If someone doesn’t make it to come and see you the chances are that they just had a lot on- it’s not always personal! Equally, those friends who you thought were your friends for life may just drift for no malicious reason. It’s hard to spread yourself across everyone and invest the energy into a relationship that it deserves.
Lastly, enjoy yourself! The last 2 years have gone so quickly, despite all the disruptions, and I am sure this next year will go even quicker and the likelihood of a panic Masters grows stronger…maybe start looking into that sooner!
This piece is part of a themed content week focused on getting back to university at Bristol.