Life lessons university has taught me – OurWarwick

Life lessons university has taught me

University may be about attending classes to achieve your degree, but it also teaches you a lot of big life lessons. You never sit formal classes in how to live. There are things that can only be learnt through experiences, and university is one big experience. Here are some of the lessons I learnt at university:

Everyone moves at their own pace in life

I see posts online from people I went to school with. Some of those people are having children, some are married or engaged, some already have their own house. Meanwhile, I’ve just graduated, I still live my parents, I don’t know how to drive, and I’m looking for my first full time job. Occasionally I get the feeling that I’m ‘behind’ in life, but that thought has no real basis beyond conforming to society’s expectations, and I have to remind myself that there is no need to conform. I can move at my own pace. Success means different things to different people, and there is no time limit on success. You can keep achieving until you die, regardless of your age. Comparing yourself to others only hinders your happiness in the present moment.   

The world is far bigger than the country you grew up in

Before coming to university, I’d never lived outside of Essex; the county I was born in and grew up in. I’d only been abroad once, on a school trip to Washington DC for three days. The school I attended wasn’t very racially diverse. Then, coming to university, I met people from all over the world and suddenly realised that the world has so much to offer. I became interested in languages and now I’m determined to be a polyglot one day. I applied to go on a year abroad and got a place at Seoul National University in Korea (although I couldn’t go because of the pandemic). It’s set my sights far beyond the place I grew up in.  

You’re not going to stay in touch with everyone

I’ve started to think of life like a TV show. Each season introduces new characters to the cast, and some depart the show. In the same way, people come and go through your life. Primary school to secondary school to sixth form to university and to life beyond graduation, you’re going to have different people around you for each. The closest friends remain, but others may not.

University has taught me that if I want to keep people in my life, I need to make a regular effort to keep in contact with them. You’re no longer around people constantly like you were at school. Now, people have different timetables and commitments. Organising a time to meet becomes harder. It’s especially harder now that most of my friends have graduated and scattered across the globe.

My mum always tells me that I’m fortunate to have social media so that I can keep in touch with my friends. Make use of it. Post on your Instagram stories to keep people updated with what you do, even if it’s a minor thing like sharing a picture of a cake you baked. Respond to other people’s posts and strike up conversation.

Adult responsibilities will be both exhausting and fulfilling

Taking out a student loan is a big deal, for it is likely going to be the first time in your life that you have control of a large sum of money. With that comes the responsibility of spending it, and having to make choices about your lifestyle. When you move into a student home, you have to pay rent and bills. You’ll have to make phone calls to broadband companies. Things will go wrong or be inconvenient. It’s frustrating, but it’s also a sign of your independence. You have to take things in your stride. You can’t rely on your parents anymore, and while it may seem scary sometimes, being independent is also the most fulfilling thing you can do.

  • Stephanie Cheng

    This was a great blog Deanna! Thanks for your insights and congratulations on your graduation.


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