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Kristen Bryant / Her Campus
Life

Here’s How My First Year of Uni Really Went

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I had high expectations for how my first year at university was supposed to go. Although I did have a lot of fun and have made wonderful friends and memories, I was hit with more challenges than I had expected, making my first year one hell of a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, laughs, mental breakdowns, triumphs and failures.  

Maybe I read too much, but the way I anticipated my first year of university was heavily influenced by literature and pop culture. I was prepared to venture into the “party life” of drinking, clubbing and hook-ups. I figured my roommates would become my core group of friends and we would all rent a house together next year. I imagined going to football games, celebrating homecoming weekend, playing beer pong in the streets and maybe even finding someone compatible to be in a relationship with. 

None of these things happened to me and I was disappointed that I could not push myself to do more and find a balance between being a young adult and having fun. 

I would say that I received a huge reality check. There was a lot on my plate between working, studying and dealing with both physical and mental health issues. I didn’t consider that these factors would prohibit me from living my best life at university.  

Consequently, I have felt like my first-year experience was the result of me failing to live up to my expectations and I have been critical of what I could have done differently. 

For instance, I wish I could have said no to an extra shift and gone out with friends instead, but then I would remember that I needed the money for weekly groceries and to pay my bills. I wish I could have ignited a spark of energy in me to go out after a day of classes and studying to party and dance until I drop without feeling guilty about missing schoolwork. I wish I could’ve gone out to clubs without the worry of getting COVID. These are all factors I can control by changing my mindset to be more forgiving of myself and not striving so hard to be perfect with everything I do.  

Next semester, I plan on saying no to extra shifts; I already work four times a week. I plan on going out more, as a few nights off from studying could benefit my mental health. I plan on going out dancing at the clubs because I need to learn how to live my life without being constantly anxious about my health.  

As for the factors I can’t control, I will have to learn to accept that I am trying my best, despite the difficulties that particular circumstances may impose. I believe that by being more understanding towards myself, I will be able to create more realistic expectations and goals for this upcoming fall term. 

I need to lower my expectations of how I think these experiences are supposed to go and learn to live in the moment. I will be much happier and more satisfied with myself if I can let go and enjoy this period of my life rather than place unrealistic expectations on myself and my experiences in university.  

Although the expectations I had of myself suffered and I had issues with adjusting to the reality of university life, I’ve now begun to realize that I should be proud of myself. I’ve learned a lot more than I’ve realized, and this self-growth has been valuable to me, even though it came at a cost. 

Ashley Barry

Wilfrid Laurier '25

Hey hey! I'm a first-year student at Laurier, working towards my BA in English. I'm an avid reader, wine consumer and vinyl record collector. I also enjoy long strolls through the bookstore — always at the expense of my bank account — and attempting to make Pinterest-worthy lattes with my espresso machine. I'm a passionate leader and writer and am ecstatic to be part of Her Campus!
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