In such a short time, I’ve learnt more about life and other people than I have in the past ten years. In fact, I’ve probably learnt more about myself than I have in my whole life. Coming home has given me a chance to reflect on a few of the things I’ve learnt during the last couple of months at university.
1. People don’t magically become mature upon arrival. I was really disappointed to find that people don’t automatically become responsible adults when they go to uni. I naively believed that people would know how to take care of themselves once they left home. But I can’t help feeling a little disheartened when I think about the massive pile of dishes people leave in the sink and bits of food on the counter-tops thinking their mothers are right around the corner to clean up after them.
2. Not everyone is considerate of others. On the same note, I’ve found out that a lot of people don’t realise that some of the things they are doing are making others suffer. Perhaps ‘suffer’ is a bit strong, but I mean it in the sense that they are making other people’s lives a little harder to live. The dishes are one example. Another would be the loud drum and bass that goes on until 4am on weekdays when some other people (*cough) have early morning lectures almost everyday.
3. Some people come to go to uni, but don’t go. I’ve seen a lot people put the education that they are supposed to be getting from university at the bottom of their priorities. For some reason, they’ve have decided to pay thousands of pounds and travel miles and miles away from home just to party or sleep in late. I’ll be honest and say that it’s difficult for me to empathize with these people, I know people can’t be perfect all the time, but it’s still hard for me to understand the thinking that goes behind these decisions.
4. There’s still peer pressure out there. Another hard lesson I learnt is that peer pressure doesn’t disappear after high school. It’s just become less obvious. Instead of directly asking people if they want to try something, there is just a general feeling that you’re not cool or ‘living like a proper student’ if you don’t try everything or suffer from crippling hangovers every other morning.
5. I can’t change who I really am. So enough bashing of other people, lest you think I’m on a high horse. Before going to uni I really believed I could become a hip, cool, laidback person that looked great and had a fantastic time. But uni isn’t like that in real life. In real life, there are deadlines, budgets and limited time. I can’t spend entire evenings going out and I can’t avoid all my lectures and assignments. In the first couple of weeks I really tried being a party-loving student, but after a while it just got too repetitive, too expensive and too tiring. In the end, I realised what was important to me and became myself again, someone who loves to party – but also someone who is driven and loves learning.
6. There’s no substitute for elbow grease. In my course, if you don’t prepare, you don’t know the answer. And if you don’t know the answer, you’re buggered. There’s no getting away with it, and you can’t waffle your way through a question or skim read material you’re supposed to have memorised. I’ve learnt the importance of proper preparation and revision techniques through experiencing the consequences of not doing it. Sometimes, there’s just no getting away from the un-glamorous-ness of pulling on a hoody and hitting the library.
7. You get back what you put in (and more). I’ve learnt that any experience becomes as good as what you put in. If you put in lot’s of passion and effort you’ll be greatly rewarded with good grades and have a fantastic time. If you constantly expect things to be boring, difficult or not up to your standards then it will inevitably turn out that way. But if you give things a chance, who knows, it might turn out better than you expected.
I learnt all of these lessons outside of the classroom. The fact that most of them are negative is actually a massive positive. I really feel I’ve gained some valuable life experience that they don’t teach you in books. I can take all of these difficulties and complain about them, or I can use them to learn about others and about life. Here’s hoping I’ll learn many more difficult lessons in the years to come.