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The expectations vs the reality of university life

Her Campus interviewed final year students to see how their expectations of what university life would be like actually differed (for better or for worse) from the reality.

On partying and drinking

 “In first year, even when you’ve found yourself being sick on someone who had a phobia of sick within 2 seconds of being in Crisis, even after returning from a rag raid at 8pm with baked beans, egg and other unidentified items in your hair, it did not seem to put me off the partying.  However, third year has been taken over with nights in, stuffed with chocolate and watching Pretty Woman, although there have been the occasional times when I’ve tried to tell the taxi driver to take me back to halls because I secretly still think I am a first year.”

“I went out quite a lot in first and second year and then a bit less in third. I vowed never to have Sambuca shots again after I had about 20 in one night back in first year. A couple of my friends in halls were hilariously generous/stupid with their money and they just went up to the bar with a few of us and kept buying us 4 or 5 shots of Sambuca each. I was quite violently ill for a couple of days after.”

“Everyone knew first year didn’t count so going out 3-4 times a week seemed the norm. This ended for a while after waking up in a bush at the end of second year dressed as a Smurf. Moving into third year, suddenly we went back to thinking we are the absolute dons of uni. This soon changed however after videos surfaced of me wandering around the Union wearing plastic cups as shoes, and throwing my actual shoes at my friends.”

“I wasn’t really that much of a party girl before uni. However, once I found my one true love (the big O) this all changed. After a few vodka mixers each night, my lack of previous nightclubbing meant I felt suitably bevved to regularly attend Coco Tang, Crisis and Ocean each week and before I knew it I was rolling around on the floor at Fresher foam parties. However, the dream was soon to come to end when I began to get cocky and began downing the vodka in larger quantities. The time I was sick all over the street outside Baa Baa and wasn’t let in (yes not even the actual club – we were just going to the pre bar) was when I realised it was time to tone it down.”

“I thought I’d be going out about two or three times a week, and it has been about that throughout the three years. I’m in my element when I’m being sick all over my friends and as a ‘hardcore drinker’ I would never vow to not going out again.”

On living away from home

 “I went to boarding school for sixth form so living away from home was not an issue. I was slightly (okay, very) apprehensive about the toilet situation.  However after having been walked in on whilst in the shower, walked in on numerous boys taking a shit, and witnessing the effects of someone trying to put a whole tree of toilet paper down the loo, I just accepted that this was going to be home.  Second and third year have definitely been an overhaul of an experience; from blocked loos, to my ceiling leaking onto my bed, to constantly walking around wrapped in my duvet to keep warm, it can only be described as unforgettable.” 

“As much as I loved halls, living in houses is, for me, a much better uni experience and it’s nice being able to trash the house without the warden telling us off. We received a warning or two in halls after they found black paint smeared all over our bathroom and walls after we painted ourselves as slugs for a freshers’ event.”

“I wouldn’t say I was scared to be on my own but it did feel weird the first day or two. My halls were pretty perfect for me and was very enjoyable. My room was without a doubt more of a prison cell but some may argue that’s what I deserve. Living out second and third year has been great, albeit for one housemate who stole my things…”

“I’ll never forget that first day when we moved in to halls. Conversation was limited to asking everyone what their name was, where they were from and what course they were doing! Then trying to remember all that information. My halls were pretty nice compared to most; very thin walls though – could hear a lot through them!”

“I was really excited to be living away from home but I knew I had no idea what I was doing cooking wise and didn’t mind admitting it- everyone ended up cooking me dinner! Mum had packed me an emergency survival kit for uni which consisted of random food she knew I liked. One morning I found a pack of baguettes in the box so I ate one on the way to lectures. Eventually I realised it was a half-baked baguette… Next morning I thought I’d have another go with the baguettes. I put one in the oven, had a shower and went off to lectures. When we got back, I suddenly realised that my baguette was still in the oven 2 hours later. I’ve never tried cooking baguettes again.”

On the people

 “There was one boy who never washed anything up and just bought new cutlery and plates all the time (his money obviously ran out as he ended the year with paper plates and plastic cutlery). I currently live in a house with 4 girls which has its ups and downs. Being able to just slob around with no makeup, a high bun and your worst trackie bottoms is GREAT but tension builds easily and there can be some passive-aggressive bitchy comments passed from time to time. I like to think we’re adult enough now to sort out our problems though. On the whole, good.”

“Moving away from home for the first time was incredibly exciting and I couldn’t wait… until I found out I was sharing my room with another student because the uni had overbooked for accommodation that year. Originally I wasn’t too bothered because I thought it would give me a really close friend, however as soon as she arrived it became very clear we were complete opposites. Every night that I arrived home steaming drunk, she would be sitting on the top bunk and would always say “I’ve been waiting up for you all night, why are you so late?” She then decided that we would have times in which we were allowed our own space in the room. One day I came back from the showers to my room where I found it locked. After knocking for 5 mins she shouted “You can’t come in, it’s my 4 hours in the room.” I had to sit outside for 4 hours in my towel because I was apparently 5 minutes over my time slot. She called security (for the 3rd time that week) and asked for me to be chucked out of the accommodation. Security arrived and realised what an absolute loon I was living with, and had her move accommodation instead.”

“One guy just stared at all the girls the whole time without speaking. Another girl kept asking to borrow clothes in the first week and would refuse to give them back. All the people I live with now I absolutely love; we’ve had many hilarious nights out. We’ve had our fair share of very embarrassing and socially unacceptable dance routines as well as lots of ‘odds on’s, such as going up to random guys and hold their hand until they make an excuse to leave. I also managed to lose both my shoes on a night out …but we no longer mention that.”

“One guy spent the majority of Freshers’ Week drinking straight from a whisky bottle and was never to be seen again.”

“After a few nights out I found a great group of friends, who I’m still really close with, and I was lucky that my neighbour and I were very similar, and has been my closest mate since. There were definitely a few weirdos in the halls, and I was always very scared of the mysterious man who we saw in the kitchen once a month who was extremely mysterious but I think he was a nice chap deep down.”

“We had the issue of a language barrier with one of our flatmates. In Freshers’ Week we asked him to come out on a night out with us and he told us he was going surfing, which we thought sounded really cool until it turned out he meant surfing the web.”

On lectures, tutors and the workload

“It’s taken me to third year: second semester to have my first golden month at uni. Other than this month I believe I’ve only ever had one other golden week. Sadly, I haven’t fancied any lecturers enough to boost my attendance although certain ones have definitely encouraged me not to attend theirs. So no, I didn’t attend lectures as much as I believed I would!”

“I thought I would go to about 70% of my lectures throughout the first year, turns out it was probably less than 10%, due to the fact I had a medical condition of not being able to get out of bed. It was a very comfortable bed (it wasn’t…it was broken.)”

“With regards to hot lecturers, I can’t say my course delivers an endless list of attractive female staff. What tends to attract me more in a lecturer is their voice – if they have a good voice to listen to, then I’m more likely to go!”

“Seeing as I only had about 14 hours of lectures in first year I set myself the challenge of never missing anything (succeeded bar one lecture) but this led to many hilarious 9 ams where I was definitely still drunk and when your lecture includes images of artists pulling scrolls from their vaginas you cannot help but laugh, or even fall asleep and shout out something hilarious half way through.  Thank God we do not have to put the total about of alcohol consumed on our degree certificate.” 

“I am a self-confessed lecturer lover and over my three years I have developed some very real crushes on several of my lecturers. Although these were never acted upon, it has led to the development of a “seminar voice”, which my friends have described as a much softer, sultry version of my real voice that I put on when answering questions in seminars. I am genuinely unable to recreate this voice except when in the presence of said lecturers and I am completely unaware I’m doing it. It must be love.”

On money

“The student loan was definitely a complete life saver but it has also definitely urged me to go on a few more shopping sprees that I would have imagined- but it has also left me at the end of term having cereal for dinner and finding even Aldi’s prices painful.” 

“I once bought a sofa with my loan, but it was for my mum and she paid me back after!”

 “Since Freshers’ where I swear I used to lose (or potentially spend) a casual 60-80 quid a night- I was probably feeding every homeless person takeaways or something- I’ve learnt to tone it down. Some of my friends still fall into trouble though and check their bank balance the next day to discover £100 or so lost to VK’s.”

“I always vowed I’d never take my card out on a night out. You suddenly think this card is an unlimited supply of drink card because you’re not handing over cash anymore. This all changed on my birthday. I took my card out because mum had put £100 in for some drinks for me and my friends. Apparently upon arriving at the club I bought 60 jagerbombs for my friends and 2 bottles of champagne. A nice £380 came out of my bank that night. To make it worse, my friend said his bank balance was also £300 lower than the previous night. Who knows what else we decided to buy…


Edited by Amelia Bauer

Photo credits:

The Lad Bible 

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