What I've Learned In Second Year

1) This is what living by yourself is really like, not first year 

Last year, I was lucky enough to live in Jack Martin, with my own bathroom, a spacious kitchen and a decent-sized room. At the time, I remember thinking the hardest thing about living away from home was having my mum’s dinner replaced with my own, mediocre cooking and needing to do/ pay for my own laundry.

Moving away from campus has been a true cultural shock. On campus, I was used to being in a state of constant warmth. No need to wrap up in layers or make several cups of tea. Well, guess what? Houses don’t magically heat up (!), and heating can be very expensive. You’ll have to negotiate with your housemates when the heating should be on, deciding whether you prioritise a warm house or cheap(er) bills. This can often lead to disagreements, with at least one person suffering from the cold. My advice for those of a cold disposition is to buy a portable heater—you can find them for less than £15 and it will avoid major feuds.

Showers also can be a cause of much grievance. Not heating up, constantly changing temperatures, too weak… you name it. Of course, there are the few lucky ones who are blessed with a fully functioning device. For a lot of us, though, several calls/emails to the landlord are likely to occur before this.

Like warmth, tumble dryers also aren’t an intrinsic part of every home. If your house if of a cool climate like mine, you will most likely need to arrange your washes so that the clothes won’t be needed until at least two days after. Unfortunately, ‘I had no dry clothes’ will not land you an authorised absence.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger though, right? These experiences are all unpleasant but learning to overcome them (and trust me, you will) will be extremely rewarding, leaving you feeling that little bit more prepared for adult life.

2) You can’t just go out whatever day of the week (sorry)

This one is perhaps more pertinent to humanities students, whose contact hours are few and far between. Last year, going out was often a priority. Your timetable would be arranged according to when the good events were. No one went to a Thursday morning lecture, Wednesday was POP. If you were hung-over the next morning, you could quite easily spend the next day recovering in bed with the assurance that others in your seminar would be doing the same. Otherwise, you could roll out of bed ten minutes before your seminar, put on some trousers and just sit quietly, nodding and trying to keep your eyes open. 

This is no longer an option when you’re living an hour away from the university and relying on the U1 to get to class. A 10 am start means an 8am alarm. Getting the morning bus hung-over will mean you’ve already crashed by the time you get to uni, and with off-campus accommodation you can forget a power nap in-between class. Plus, your grades actually count this year, which gives seminars a whole new meaning. Unfortunately, this year your going-out pattern will have to accommodate to your university timetable. Morning start on Wednesday? No Tuesday smack for you.

On the upside, this will force you to find new ways of keeping your evenings occupied. A nice homemade dinner, a drink at the nearest pub, a movie/ games night with your flatmates-- all are great alternatives to a night of purple-drinking and circle. 

3) FOMO is silly 

Of course, FOMO is a normal human sentiment and we all-- children, students and adults-- suffer from it from time to time. But it seems to hit particularly strong during first year, when EVERYONE appears to be going to EVERY event. With the constant refrains of ‘first year doesn’t count, make the most of it’, it’ll be hard to listen to your inner voice reminding you of your sore throat/headache/ deadline. But after a year of often half-hearted trips to Leamington, you’ll realise that there isn’t really that much to miss out on. Not that going out isn’t a lot of fun, but that it’s not worth sacrificing your health, sanity, or student account for. There’ll be a similar if not identical event in a week’s time.

In second year, you’ll learn to leave the bubble both in physical and figurative terms. You don’t have to be where everyone is, because not everyone is at the same place in the first place.

4) In friendships, quality not quantity matters

This point might seem obvious but it sometimes gets brushed over in freshers. There are so many different Facebook groups and chats, so many new societies, tours and balls, so many flatmates you haven’t yet broken ties with. At first, you’ll probably want to get to know as many people as possible. You’ll rarely ever feel lonely on campus, constantly bumping into people you know—be it at Rootes, the Health Centre, or Cannon Park. There’ll always be something to do, someone to pre with or chat to in the kitchen. 

In second year, things are different. Away from the bubble of campus, you’ll learn to reach out more to people, to find those on who you can truly rely.  You’ll see friendships become much stronger for this. You won’t just bump into acquaintances everywhere you go, you’ll have to actually make plans, organize when’s and how’s. Moreover, you’ll most probably get closer to the people you live with—cooking together, sorting out housing issues together, cleaning up after a house-party together and witnessing each other’s meltdowns. 

5)You can’t really write an essay the night before 

Or the night before that. In fact, you’ll probably have to at least think about it weeks before. Essays will be longer, more demanding, and, most importantly, will actually count. Yes, starting an essay weeks before means work will be far more time consuming. But it also means that those strenuous, soul-crushing all-nighters won’t have to happen. You’ll learn to submit essays more than 10 minutes before the deadline. Trust me, actually getting sleep the night before that Tuesday deadline is definitely worth it.

6) No-one quite knows how to adult yet

Second year is a little bit terrifying. You’re settled in now, your grades count and you are almost halfway through your degree. You are basically an ‘almost adult’. You’ll have to start seriously considering adult stuff, like internships and year in industry placements. You’ll have to actually think about the future. At times, it will seem like everyone has got their lives sorted, that all your friends are way ahead of the game and you are the only struggling to keep up. Do not be fooled. Everybody’s scared, no one really knows what they’re doing and you’re all just trying to get by. Focus on immersing yourself in the wonderful opportunities university offers before it’s over. Think about the future, do what you can, but don’t let it take over your present wellbeing.