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Thursday, 12 October 2017

10 Things I'd Tell My Younger Self About University

university of Leeds graduation
Hello hello! Today I thought I'd do a post featuring the 10 things I'd tell my younger self about University. I know a lot of you guys are just starting University or maybe pushing through second year, thinking about doing a year abroad or even battling with third year dissertations, I thought this post might help you. I graduated in July last year (read about my graduation day) so thought I'd do this from a looking back point of view. 

University is about much more than just studying - I honestly think University is a brilliant way to get life skills. It's about much more than walking out with a degree. I made friends, met my boyfriend, moved abroad (which gave me the best life experience, ever), moved away from home for the first time. I got to know more about myself and I grew as a person. I look at the person I was in first year and even my 4th year, in comparison to who I am now and I am so different. I've been shaped by the people who have come into my life, the people who have left my life, the opportunities I've taken and the things I've been through recently. I kind of wish I could go back, meet all those people again and show them who I am now, years on. 

Don't flunk it - Having said that though, it doesn't mean you should flunk your grades. You're paying a lot of money so make sure you actually work hard. It's cool to work hard at University. I was in awe of intelligent peers smashing their grades. I also watched so many intelligent people fail their years because they took the social life aspect too far. Yes, have fun but at the end of the day, when you're applying for your dream career, nights out don't come into it.

You may meet your soul mate - Don't put pressure on yourself to meet 'the one' at University but I know a lot of people who did. I happened to meet Matt in the first week of freshers, we were in the same building and the lift doors opened on us and we've been best friends ever since, eventually to boyfriend and girlfriend. I always wonder what would have happened now if those doors didn't open. I tried to move halls too before I started University, meaning I wouldn't have met him. That's some serious fate right there. When I was in my first year of Uni, dating apps weren't even a thing (I'm not even old, I only graduated last year!) but by my second and third year apps like Badoo were all over campus! Helping likeminded people meet and actually, stay together! I spent hours of fun helping my friends go on dates and lots of them were very good. It's anti-cat fishing element is the best though as it means it's safer. Don't sweat if you don't meet 'the one' at Uni but there are certainly lots of eligible partners! This doesn't just mean relationship partner though, you could meet your soul mate friendship wise too! I'd definitely suggest joining clubs, societies and getting involved in acitivites. Get out of your comfort zone and you never know who you may meet. I hate doing things alone and feel like I'd have met more 'soul mates' if I did more things alone and wasn't so nervous. I always look back and think how many incredible friends probably passed by me on campus and I didn't even get the chance to speak to them or know them. 




Use the Universities facilities - As I mentioned, you've paid a lot for it so make use of the facilities. Whether that's the free counseling Universities offer, the cheaper gym membership, or just the one to one contact hours with the lecturers. I didn't use the library once until my final year and I would rarely meet with lecturers. It was only when doing my dissertation that I realised how valuable their opinion and knowledge is. The lecturer that helped me with my dissertation was amazing, I have so much respect for her and she made me, dare I say it, enjoy my dissertation! 



It's good to be 'a geek' - I know I've touched on it briefly but it is good to be a geek. I loved seeing my friends doing well with their grades and it inspired me to do better too. Whilst first year didn't count for most, I knew I wanted to do a year abroad so I put a lot of energy into my first year in order to get into a good University for my final year. 

It's not like the brochures - I filmed a 'things I wish they told me about University video' and I have to say again, don't be fooled into thinking it's like the brochures, where everyone is friends. I felt like I spent the whole of University longing for 'that' friendship group and it never happened. I'd see big girl groups in my halls and wish I was friends with them but most people at my University knew each other from school so I think they already had strong friendships formed or mutual friends. I didn't have any of that and thought starting from scratch would be okay but my halls were so segregated and difficult to make friends, unless you had a strong group in your kitchen area. I have some really strong friends in my life from Uni but I don't have 'that group'. Maybe it wasn't meant to be and I feel lucky to have a handful of epic people in my life through University. I am left with amazing memories though from the friends I did have whilst there but people drift afterwards so you think someone's your best friend and whilst the memories won't fade, people go and do their separate things. I broke up with a boyfriend which meant most of my male friends went with him which is sad but it's the way life works, I miss the fun times we had but I'm sure if I saw them again we'd get on just as well. Read: why it's okay to lose friends.


Be open minded - When I first got to University, I'd been stuck in the same high school friendship group for years and was quite closed minded. I expected to only hang around with similar people and as much as that friendship group are great (actually, as we've all grown up and don't see eachother as much, I'd say stronger), breaking away from the norm and meeting totally different people changed me, helped me grow as a person and made me more open-minded. 

Balance is key - You guys know I talk about balance with food and exercise a lot but what about with University? Yep, it's key still! I think it's about balancing working hard, smashing your deadlines but making friends too. In first year I always regret being so busy with a boyfriend and my blog that I didn't socialise as much as I should have. I went out with my flat a lot but didn't join any societies and genuinely think I'd have met lifelong friends if I did. I wish I pushed a bit more to make friends rather than expecting to just fall into friendships. I don't ever believe you should force friendships but I think I could have been a bit more active in the communities. When I finally joined an enterprise group in my 3rd year, I finally met some incredible, like-minded people. 

It's okay to feel lonely - In my first year I went through waves of upset. I wasn't even far from home but for some reason I often felt lonely and sad . It's okay to be nervous, to be scared and to not know what to expect. I was going through a lot of stuff with family issues, stuff I couldn't get my own head around and I felt as if I'd be judged when my house mates walked in and saw me hysterically crying in the kitchen, or they'd judge what I'd been through. I remember randomly crying most nights to my ex about it but never really explaning what was going on or why I was crying. Bottling it up isn't a good thing. In my final year, these things were affecting my grades and I just didn't feel like I could work, I was emotionally drained, so I went and opened up to a team within my building at University and they were so brilliant, they advised me of extensions I could do and things they could put in place to make me feel safe, happy and comfortable. Talking really is key. I felt more comfortable talking to strangers who were trained in this stuff than burdening my Uni friends. There are some amazing people at University who will talk to you and help you, with confidence, no matter what you're going through. Having a bad day? Here are 10 things you might need to hear today

Embrace it - Last but not least, it flies by so embrace it. For me, moving away from home was the best thing I did as I was able to learn to stand on my own two feet, be independent, be inspired by new people from all walks of life, have those crazy nights out and late night cries. I missed my Mum so much but it did really help me grow as an individual. Going on a year abroad was something I didn't want to do at all but I'm so glad I forced myself to do it. It's where I really met incredible friends, people and made memories for life. I feel like it filled that gap, the gap of not meeting loads of people in my first few years of University. University offers amazing guidance, teachers and facilities, I wish I used them more in my first few years. 



You can do it, it might not feel like you're going to pass because you know what? It's hard but push and you will. I still look back and can't believe I did it. You can do it. I did 4 years and it was over in a flash. I do actually wish I could go back, as the person I am now, and do it all again. I have so many amazing words about the University of Leeds. It truly is the best of the best, in terms of people who go there, facilities, Leeds as a city, the teachers. I feel so happy that I chose Leeds and McGill in Canada for my degrees. 

Thank you so much for reading! Do you have any tips about University? 

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Lots of love, Em x

Thanks to Badoo for collaborating with me on this blog post. As always it's 100% my honest opinion. 

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