Isolation, curfews, online teaching and groups of six. Although an accurate description of university so far, it doesn’t cast a very positive light on a new exciting, independent life. Instead, let me rephrase: new friendships, the enjoyment of learning, nights out & the exploration of beautiful places. Yet, reality is somewhere in the middle, always striving for a balance. Every new chapter has its ups and downs; however, this start has definitely been different.
It wasn’t like I was walking in blind; I knew university life would be unique, it didn’t mean the buzz, nerves and anticipation of a new place were less exciting, just far from ‘normal’. Anyone expecting pub crawls, clubs and large group meet-ups were likely to be disappointed as they were replaced with zoom quizzes, coffee mornings and online lectures. But with expectations readjusted, it has been great fun. In some ways the strange situation has arguably been a blessing in disguise, favouring my more introverted, ‘not-a-fan of large crowds’ personality. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy nights out, but I’d rather be at a pub with some friends – back by 10-10:30pm; than a night ‘out-out’ in a club surrounded by strangers until 4 in the morning.
But let’s remind ourselves that Uni is not all about going out and getting drunk, far from it, and that this ‘new normal’ has definitely presented some challenges when it comes to making new connections. The surprising incidental conversations you would have after coming out of a lecture, casually grabbing a coffee after a seminar or merely working in the library are more difficult or…frankly non-existent. But equally it is not impossible to meet new people and have a great time, instead it pushes you to be more proactive, arrange to meet someone and go for a drink (before 10pm of course). It builds up self-confidence, makes you manage your time and helps you to appreciate what is on offer.
That all may sound lovely, but sometimes everything just goes tits up. As Uni introduces you to the ‘adult’ world of cooking, laundry, shopping, budgeting and work deadlines: sometimes you just have pretend like you have your shit together. For me, this moment came at the end of my first week in Aldi – a bad combination of groceries, rain and bus timetables. Let’s just say the afternoon that followed was filled with Netflix and biscuits.
Besides all of that, this first half of term has reminded me of my love for English, and the joy of learning and engaging with new texts, ideas and people. It has also presented new friendships, great people to make new memories with and encouragement that this new ‘independent adult’ life whilst sometimes daunting, is equally exciting. Having full control over your decisions and lifestyle choices, allows you to shape your future and do things in the ‘now’ which you bring you joy…the hangover is worth it, right?!