University gives you the freedom to…
…build new friendships.
When I left home to study at Warwick, my older sister gave me this advice: “Don’t worry if you’ve not got your life sorted by the end of the first term. My best friends in Second Year were people I didn’t meet until well after Freshers’ Week.” Get to know lots of people in your first few weeks, join all the clubs you want to, try out new things – but remember, just because you’re one person in the first few weeks of university, doesn’t mean you and your social circle can’t keep growing as you go through university.
(Joining sports clubs and societies is a great way to keep meeting new people throughout your time at university.)
…explore who you could be.
I came to university with a good idea of what I wanted to do differently. At school I was shy – at Warwick I would be outgoing. I liked the idea of going to church, but I was too nervous to go alone – my second day at Warwick was a Sunday, and there I was listening to a pastor. In Sixth Form I was unsure of my sexuality – at Warwick, I would stop trying to define myself and start listening to my heart.
From the moment you step into your First Year accommodation for the first time, you loose the bonds that you form over the years as people get to know you, so you have the chance to reinvent yourself, to choose who you really want to be. It’s both refreshing and daunting to meet so many people that don’t yet know your personality nor your backstory. Personally, I struggled with the idea that I needed to prove myself: my schoolfriends knew how smart I was, but these new flatmates? They hadn’t made up their mind yet. On the flip side, I was free to be the person I felt I was inside, because nobody there knew the old me.
(This was me on my first night of uni. It was my first time in a club that wasn’t smaller than a classroom!)
…try new things.
A teacher at school gave us her advice in the form of a threat: “Don’t waste the opportunities at university like I did.” Cling onto these words. Not just at the Societies and Sports fairs, where you’ll be inundated with leaflets advertising dozens upon dozens of new activities you want to try – but also at the start of each term when clubs offer ‘refresher sessions’, and when your friends invite you along to ‘circle’ with their society or see what their club’s all about. Being at the University of Warwick is like being in a condensed city, where a multitude of opportunities are right on your doorstep, easy to take up and at a fraction of their usual price.
(This is the University of Warwick Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team. Before university, I could barely throw a frisbee, and yet somehow here I am!)
Planning for Freedom
University life affords most people one heck of a lot more freedom than they’ve been used to. If you’re coming from school or college, you go from a rigid schedule to absolute chaos. Stay up beyond 3am socialising then get up in time for your 9am? Sure!
In my opinion, it’s worth considering how you intend to use that freedom before you get here. Will you be partying all the time, or focusing primarily on your work? Are you going to learn new sports and skills or do you intend to carry on with the ones you already know well?
Useful links for planning what your life at university will look like: