A Breakdown of my University Experience

There were times when I really thought I wouldn’t be able to complete four years of university, so to be sat here writing this now with a degree (classification pending) gives me a huge sense of achievement.


With this in mind, I thought it would be useful to summarise my experience and give an overview of each year, as well as some advice…


1st Year

First year is weird. The excitement of moving away from home to study the subject you are most interested in is mixed with the fear of having to make new friends and adapt to university life. Although I did enjoy my newfound independence and social life, first year sometimes felt a bit lonely - despite being surrounded by people. I felt like I knew a lot of people, but I didn’t actually have a really close group of friends. I also didn’t particularly enjoy my course that year due to the limited module choice and variation; my marks were very average and I felt out of my depth. 

If I were to give anyone advice for their first year at university, it would be that eventually you will figure out who your friends are, don’t stress about the academic side too much and enjoy yourself as much as possible (something I wish I’d done that a bit more!). Also, remember to persevere and give it time, everything will work out eventually.


2nd Year

For me, second year was when I really started to love being at university. I really liked my living situation, and I felt like I knew who my close friends were. I also enjoyed most of the modules on my course for that year and my coursework marks dramatically improved from the year before. This was most likely because my mental health was a lot better and I learnt how to manage my time. I also started to explore the city a bit more, which made me feel more comfortable and at home in Nottingham. 

This year was definitely the turning point for me. My friends and I realised that whilst it looked like everyone else was having the time of their lives in first year, we actually all felt the same. I also looked back at some of the mistakes I’d made in first year, and tried to rectify them to make second year a lot better.


3rd Year – Year Abroad

This was a strange year, whilst I look back on it and am glad I did it, it also presented me with some huge challenges. The first half of the year, which I spent in Portugal, was probably the worst my mental health has been during my four years at university, and I dreaded going to Peru for the second half. Luckily, Peru gave me some great memories and changed my mindset completely.

Despite it probably being one of the hardest years ever for me, I would recommend doing a year or semester abroad to anyone. It challenged me and made me stronger, and overall I do have very fond memories of it as well as some great travel stories!


4th Year

After not being in Nottingham for over a year I was quite nervous to go back. Most of my friends had graduated the year before and it felt strange going back to being in lectures with people I hadn’t seen in ages. Of course, the fact that this year counted for most of my degree was also quite stressful. Without a doubt the social aspect of university changed and I definitely went out less. And, although my friendship group was smaller this year, I felt content with the people I was surrounded by. But obviously, the year was heavily disrupted by strikes and the pandemic, meaning that my time at university came to an abrupt end.


Despite some parts of university life being challenging, I’m gutted that it’s ending. So, my advice to anyone who is about to start university or who is currently a student and struggling a bit, remember that you are stronger than you think you are and I promise that everything will fall into place.