By Harriet Buttery
- Expectations are unusual and have never ceased to fascinate me in how they work; high expectations can shatter the illusions of life long dreams whilst the opposite permit life-long memories and experiences to unfold before our very eyes. University as a whole surpassed all premeditated thoughts I ever had in store for my own experience; as I am now, I have the realisation that if my three years had of unfolded as I had wished them to as a naive 18 year old, I would now have been sorely disappointed.
Three years on, my first year exists to me as a vague fragment of life which I look upon as the greenest of all my days so far- and for some reason, I will always be sat on the fields of our halls of residence with strawberries, music and good company. However, contrary to the opinion of my rose tinted spectacles- first year is, was and always will be a year in which you will experience an all-encompassing spectrum of emotions; you will at once be in a fresher’s bar in the company of scantily clad, educated hooligans having the time of your life- fuelled by all the devilishly cheap alcohol in the world, whilst also seriously contemplating where all life’s order has gone and what on Earth are you going to do with your life.
I recall a feeling of isolation in the initial few weeks. Nobody really knew who you were, where you’ve come from and above all: what accent you were in possession of. You will tire of the cliché conversations which consist of what course you do, where you’re from, what you did in your gap year as well as the sporadic interjection of “OH, I know someone from Sheffield” (needless to say I never knew that one person they knew from Sheffield). People will walk in, they will walk out, you will sit with them on the bus and you will maybe even spend a whole night in their company with a host of other people you will never speak to again in your life. However, as the days progress, you will find you have formed bonds with these strangers, and as days turn into weeks you have found your surrogate families. Albeit, they may not be the people you throw your caps in the air with on that very distant day- but they are your comfort, your source of laughter and your safety. As you reach the month hallmark, you will surprise yourself how so many of those worries have dissipated into thin air and how accustomed you have come to- among many things: three nights out a week, hangovers, vague lecturers and the Harvard Referencing system.
If I were to bestow any advice on how to survive first year, I would firstly say that you should arrive with an open mind-you will never again find yourself in such a vastness of potential. In equal measure, I would say immerse yourself in your course and as many extracurricular activities as you can humanly manage- save yourself the humiliation of having to sell a half attempt at badminton classes four years previously as a passion-filled outlet of yours on the devil-ish job applications which are sat waiting for you on the other side. And last but most certainly not least, cherish every single minute of it. Finding myself in the “real world” three years on, I can safely say that it is a year of blissful freedom- to be as young, beautiful and intelligent as you ever will be, void of any of the real world’s problems. Make your first year the platform for three wonderful years that will live with you until you’re old enough to refuse that you ever could have done such things.