A letter to my first year self

PUBLISHED 03-June-2020 · UPDATED 04-June-2020

Hey first-year me,

The first year of university can be quite a chaotic whirlwind.

So, first things first: upon arrival, don’t forget to breathe. Crack open the window, wedge the door open with that heavy box that will shortly be heading to the kitchen and breathe. Your family have just driven off into the sunset so it’s just you now! Until those American flatmates knock on your door that is, before you’ve even begun unpacking. But allow them to sit in your room as long as possible. You’ll look back on those two hours where three random strangers assembled in your unboxed room, teaching them different British catchphrases.
Hold that memory tightly.

Embrace the fact you are completely clueless, because everyone else is too. You don’t know where the student health service is, nor the nearest cash point. But you’ll figure it out. Everything is figureoutable. The silver lining of this is that it is a chance to make friends. Say hello to literally anybody. It can be overwhelming awkward, but you really have nothing to lose. It’s not like they’re going to ignore you, and if they do, you don’t want to be friends with people like that anyway. Ask the person in the queue behind you, ‘Is this the right place for enrolment?’, even if you’re certain it is, because they’ll probably be wondering the same question and they’ll appreciate someone talking to them. You never know, that first conversation might blossom into a wonderful friendship for years on end, or maybe just a friendly face you see around campus. Nevertheless, you have nothing to lose.

Dance. Dance until you are beetroot in the face and dripping around the hairline (just make sure you get pictures with your friends or snap a few selfies before you get in this state when dancing to This Charming Man by The Smiths). Dance even if you don’t feel like it, and always dance even if you have a 9am lecture the next day. Nothing will compare to the camaraderie of happiness that you feel when at your cheesy ‘indie night’ at the student union every Monday. Likewise, nothing will compare to the 9 am lecture on Tuesday morning.

Don’t splurge your newly welcomed student loan on entire new outfit for the ‘2019 Freshers Ibiza White Theme Party’. Not many people will actually wear white, and you’ll only end up spending a few hours in there before chucking a luminous yellow VK down your front anyway. Just don’t do it.

You NEED to drink way more water than you think you need to drink. You’ll need to drink more water than alcohol, so at some points that might mean gallons of the stuff. It is easy to forget to do the most important thing that keeps us alive whilst having all these new emotions and to-do’s thrown our way, but persevere with the new taste and remember to gulp it up. Everything is much better when you drink water; your digestion, concentration, skin and you won’t even get morning breath. If only I’d known that my whole life.

RELAX. You can afford to relax a bit compared to your year of A-Level intensity, but not too much. First-year is a good time to lay the foundations for the rest of your degree; whether that be the knowledge of signing out a library book, or several, you’ll be thankful for it in the future when it all gets a bit more serious. But it is ok, it will be less serious and scary if you lay the groundwork now. Regardless, you are going to turn up to seminars sleepy and sometimes you won’t understand a single word of what was said during them. This might go on for a few weeks; it might make you question your intelligence and doubt your entire degree, but then something will come. You will contribute an idea and it will be worthy of a round of applause. It’s all a bit foreign and scary, but you’ll never be able to derive some sorting system to make all the cogs turn perfectly. You may have to fake it till you make it and completely wing it, but it will still pay off.

First-year of university might not be as good as it is hyped up to be. It might be much better, or much worse. In fact, you’ll probably look back and think it was really difficult; the new deadlines, expectations and your degree, in general, is all rather tricky to manage when all this new life stuff is happening. This is a year to discover; your new city, yourself and everything in-between. You’ll learn more about yourself than you will about your degree, and that’s ok. The good and the bad, the tired and the energised, the lonely and the comforted. Whatever happens, you’ll stand a bit taller than you first did when you drove through the gates. Let’s call it growth.

If you try take a funky pint glass from your local pub, do it discreetly.

Yours truly (literally),
Grace x

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