What I like most about university life
I love being able to do my own thing. This particularly applies to food – I can cook whatever I fancy whenever I want, rather than eating the same things as my family at the same time every day, especially as I enjoy different types of food. I have to rely on myself for everything, and it’s an empowering (and slightly scary) feeling. It’s not like I’m alone; I have an amazing group of housemates and we always look out for one another. But it’s still my responsibility to get out of bed on time, make my own breakfast, plan my day, etc. It’s the same back home in a way now that I’m older, but at uni my mum isn’t going to be there to wake me up if I oversleep.
There’s always something to do, and so you’re always busy.
For me this is both a good and bad thing. It’s easy for me to incline towards doing nothing at all with my time, but while at uni I have so much on my schedule that it’s impossible to spend multiple days lazing around. Most of my commitments are to my degree and my dancing – for which I have nearly daily rehearsals that I can’t miss because it’s a team effort. Being kept busy like this is good for me because it means I’m making the most of my time at university, and because I enjoy it so much I don’t want to waste a single moment. But it also means that I have little time to myself. I’m a very introspective person, and I remember in the past while I was at school and less busy, I would spend my evenings writing my book, watching TV, reading for fun, or simply just thinking. Now I barely have time to stop and think about what I’m doing tomorrow. Sometimes I just want a day indoors tucked up in bed, but I know that it can wait until the holidays.
New opportunities you wouldn’t find at home.
I recently met up with an old friend from back home who recently started his first year of uni in another city, and he was telling me how much larger the world feels now that we’re out of our urban commuter town. He has been able to explore his passion for film and get involved in projects with people who also like the same thing, and I have discovered a passion for dance. You get to have interactions with people that can help you to better understand yourself. Whenever I go back to my hometown now, it still feels like home, but part of me has outgrown it now that I know what else lies out there in the world.
Being treated like an adult.
It may seem bizarre at first, but having an adult relationship with your professors is part of the transition between school and university. It’s true of my department at Warwick that students are often on a first-name basis with their professors, and indeed they are no different from the students save for experience. I’ve often found myself having completely normally conversations with professors about things with which I could talk naturally to any adult, and it’s really nice to be out of the school environment in which there was a far more strict superiority level between teacher and student. I’m still trying to shake off that mindset. I was always ‘the quiet one’ at school, perfectly well behaved and disciplined, but now that I’ve left school, I’m in a position to question everything; I’m far more critical of rules and customs. Literature degrees teach you to recognise the systems that underlie the way in which we live, making me more aware of the world, and the way in which I have been raised. Funnily enough, I’ve been living through my own bildungsroman.
Flexibility of my time.
Having fewer hours than at school means that I can organise my timetable in a way that suits me. As a literature student I have less than ten hours of class contact a week, which is standard across most humanities degrees, and means that a lot more emphasis is placed on self-study (and doing a lot of reading). I can do this reading whenever I want in my free time, which means I work it around my social activities.