A reflection on university so far
Hi everyone! I’m Deanna and I’m a first year undergraduate student from Essex, UK, studying English Literature. After years of preparation, I’ve made it here, to Warwick (yay!) and am ready to study hard, and have fun while doing so.
We’re now four weeks into term two, nearly halfway through first year, and so this seems a good time to reflect on my time at Warwick so far. Here are some of my thoughts on the start of university life:
Going to university was always one of my dreams, and entirely my own choice. One could argue that the amount of university and career stuff that my sixth form threw at me would be enough to persuade me down another path, but university was always the goal for me. I’m proud of that, and entirely grateful that Warwick accepted me, although more importantly that I’ve been enjoying my time here. I had high expectations, and so far they’ve been met. My course is both challenging and enjoyable, and everyone I’ve met so far has been lovely.
Being the first in my family to come to university was not something that really struck me as a big deal until the relatives that you only really speak to once a year start sending you cards and presents. And it is a big deal. I’ve upped and moved myself, alone, halfway across the country, a three hour drive from home, or potentially even longer, given the traveller’s bane that is the M25 at rush hour. Still, it occurs to me how privileged I am to have both the financial ability to go to university (thanks Student Finance England…and mum and dad), but also the academic ability to go to Warwick specifically. But then again, it was my dream, so of course I was going to work hard for it.
Being independent, however, was not something I was prepared for. I had never had control over my own money before, never cooked for myself, and never not gotten lost on the buses. This was the thing that scared me most about coming to university, for while I may be an entirely self-assured person, I found myself reading blog posts and watching endless YouTube videos about what university life was like, making friends, organisational tips, Ikea hauls, etc. These things were a comfort, because somewhere out in the big wide world, there were people going through what I was about to go through, and being positive about it. Without that advice, I would have been a complete lost puppy when I arrived.
In the space of a month and a bit of me being here, I’d become entirely self-dependent, and that’s an amazing feeling. I’m a decent cook, and so far no microwave meal or pot noodle has entered my stomach. What’s even more satisfying is seeing my mashed potato making ability improve exponentially. In October I made my own way across the country by train when I went home for the night after a concert in London, which was the first concert I ever attended (I adored it), and only the second time I’d travelled the London tube system without my parents. I went clubbing for the first time and enjoyed it, which was surprising, given that I don’t drink, although staying up until 4am doesn’t agree with me. And while I never doubted that I was capable of these things, that didn’t stop me from feeling sick at the prospect. I was terrified of doing the laundry for the first time in my life, paranoid that I would tumble-dry something that was not supposed to be or scared that a red would get in with a white and make everything turn pink. None of these fears came to fruition however; I have so far successfully completed all of my wash-loads (except for that one time I forgot to put the washing tablet in), and to my horror, I’ve found I even enjoy doing my laundry (don’t tell my mum), although I doubt that feeling will last for long.
One thing that I was most excited about was being able to join societies, and have a far more active social life than I had at home, mainly since most things are on campus and accessible by walking. The student cinema here on campus is one example, and I am still disbelieving at the fact that I can get a ticket for £3! I’ve also taken up dancing with the Hip Hop Dance Society (charmingly nicknamed EQHO), where I attend at least one class a week, and go to their socials because if anything, they’re super fun people and you’re guaranteed a good time. I’m also active in the Korean society, who run both language and cultural classes, as well as dance classes, and it’s been wonderful and fulfilling to meet so many people who also share a passion for that culture. Ultimately, that is the best thing about societies, for they bring together people from all over the world and connect them over shared interests and passions. It brings me joy amid the stresses of such a busy lifestyle. In the weeks that I was home for Christmas, I couldn’t wait to return to campus and see all my society friends again.
2018 had been a year of new experiences, and 2019 will be too. I don’t want to think of them as new beginnings, because that seems to negate all of the hard work that got me here. Instead, I’ll think of it as the next stage on my journey, another stop at a service station on the annoying but still incredibly exciting roadways of the UK, and hopefully beyond, on a short trip through the Eurotunnel and into the world, where I aim to go.