My first year at university were pretty eventful. Naturally I experienced ups and downs, and feel I am much more well rounded as a person overall as a result of it. Remembering my fresher self now, excited for this new chapter of my life, I cringe a little. Not because it is embarrassing to be keen, but because I now know, there was not much to be keen about. I don’t mean this at all in a pessimistic – ‘I hate uni, I hate Warwick’ way, because I do enjoy university a lot of the time, I mean it in a ‘uni is not all that it is cracked up to be’ kind of way. The ‘university experience’ is glorified and advertised year after year, shoved down our throats by teachers and parents alike, with many claiming the experience alone is worth the major financial debt students put themselves in to partake in it. So here are all the down sides to my personal university experience so far, since not many others are publishing their own.
Let me set the scene a little. Black girl comes to elite, predominantly white, Warwick university from a relatively poor inner city London background off the back of a alternative course offer (studying Sociology by the way, but that’s a story for another day), knowing only one person upon arrival. Black girl experiences imposter syndrome as she sees how academically strong everyone is. Black girl joins cultural societies in a bid to find people similar to her and is greeted with performative poverty and groups far removed from her reality, trying their best to understand and be a part of the monolithic ‘black culture’ so connected with her own working class identity. She struggles with mental health issues feeling claustrophobic on campus most of the time – she seems fine. Seminar tutors don’t recognise her, she doesn’t either. She wishes her life was as good as everyone thinks it is. Between all of this however, the good parts of university that everyone bangs on about somehow keep her from dropping out altogether, her new friends, the nights out, the course itself and all the little things they choke us with before we come. So if you’re like me (I am her by the way), a part of any sort of minority, prepare yourself for disappointments like these, just don’t let them knock you the way they knocked me.