There are so many books and movies out there that depict what university life should be like. They include the scramble and anxiety of getting ready for the big first day, the absolute chaos of moving in, and then the roller coaster-esque nature of life as a tertiary education student. However, as much as all of us would like to think that it’s a reality, where seemingly all students do is sit together and drink coffee while pretending to study, or walk between classes and have the most fascinating lectures ever, we all know that it may be a stretch from the truth. After all, a best-selling novel or Hollywood film wouldn’t be as fantastic if you didn’t give the mundane aspects of life a bit of fun, fictional creative flare, right?
Thankfully, there are now these beautiful things called vlogs and blogs, where students can actually show a far less filtered version of the student life post high school. It may not be as dramatic as the entertainment pieces we love to consume, but they are still fun and filled with lots of incredibly helpful information to help newbies and nervous wrecks transition into their new way of life. One thing that I haven’t found though (perhaps I haven’t looked hard enough or found the secret group that discusses these things), is something that can help you navigate this time before the build-up to the big bad first day of university.
So, for all of those who don’t know, I accepted and confirmed my spot at university (to be specific, Durham University in the UK) in the middle of April this year and I was ecstatic about it. I’ve spent the last year and a half in a sort of limbo, out of high school yet having not entirely transitioned into the next phase because I wasn’t quite sure what that entailed. It’s been an incredible year, to say the least. I’ve loved all the incredible opportunities I’ve had to travel and study and expand my experiences. Still, in all honesty, I can’t wait to get started with university now. As you can imagine, the Type A anxious and overly enthusiastic individual that I am, as soon as I confirmed my spot, I’ve been trying to think of all the ways I can prep and get ready. Unfortunately for me, my enthusiasm may have been a bit premature. However, I wasn’t about to let a little something like ‘it actually being too far in advance to plan these types of things’ get in my way.
I signed up for all the webinars that I could. My little desk calendar was full of general university webinars, webinars about my college, my degree, placement years and anything else I thought would be helpful. I spent every spare second scouring the university website and trying to find out every drop of information about my new home. On my very first webinar, the one telling me all about the great residence I’d be staying in for my first year and the college that would be my home until graduation, I discovered my college Whatsapp group. Now as enthusiastic and friendly as I can be, I’m actually painfully shy. The thought of introducing myself to dozens of new people makes me want to curl up under my blanket and pretend I’m nothing more than a throw pillow. There were over 200 people on this group, and from what I gathered, a lot of them knew each other already. I was coming in with a substantial disadvantage – I was an international student, I knew very little about the UK and universities there in general (thank goodness for google and a great agency that helped me get through the application process), and I didn’t know a single person on that group. As you can imagine, my anxiety levels were extremely high because if I messed up and this group didn’t like me, I’d be stuck as the sad international student with no friends for four years … I couldn’t have been more surprised.
Making friends can be a stressful experience, especially when you’re chucked into the deep end and it’s quite literally sink or swim. It’s even more nerve-wracking to do online because messages can be misinterpreted and it’s so hard to really get to know people through a medium where you can’t really interact face to face (I’m not counting voice/video calls – we all know that it’s so different when you’re actually interacting with someone in the real world). I was also petrified because I had been the black sheep in high school – I wasn’t ashamed that I stood by being different. However, it still made me sad that the result was having so few friends and people who got me. Because university is much bigger, I’d just been holding my breath hoping that I would find my people when I finally get there. Now I’ll be honest, it was a little terrifying at first talking to so many people at once that I’d never met. I still have a vaguely normal sleep schedule, unlike quite a few of my future college mates, so I’d wake up to thousands of unread messages every morning. Plus, we did have some weird conversations that I’ll just leave unexplained. However, as nerve-wracking as it was to become part of this new group, I have never met a more accepting group of individuals in my life. From the get-go they have been caring, loving, fun and always find a way to show their support – talk about the perfect college, right?
This pre-build up to starting university has been quite a challenging and anxiety-inducing period for me because so much of it involves just sitting around and waiting. I have to wait to get forms so that I can start my visa process, I have to wait before I can sort out accommodation, I have to wait before I can get a glance at my syllabus and start making plans for the classes I’ll be taking. Heck, I even have to wait to see if I’ll even be able to get a flight to the UK because of the current COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve been bubbling with excitement for months about finally being able to start university. Now that it’s so close, the fact that I can’t really do much to progress anything (and I don’t exactly know what the plans are for international students trying to get to their universities for the start of the academic year) is driving me nuts. Of course, there is the possibility that teaching might be moved online, and that doesn’t really scare me because hey, it’s better than nothing. What I’m really nervous about is if things do get pushed to online, then I won’t be able to interact with my professors as much, and I’ll lose all of those opportunities to grow as a student. Also, if university is online, then I’ll miss all the fun first-year experiences and chances to make friends with people. In short, I’m really anxious about a lot of things because I’ve been so eager to finally start that I’m worried that a little breeze will come and blow my pretty little dream away before I’ve had the chance to hold onto it.
To sum it all up, this time has been a metaphorical Ferris wheel – up one moment and down the next. I’ve been stressed out of my mind because that start date is creeping closer and closer. I still don’t have a visa, I’m not sure what I need to pack, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get a flight out, and I haven’t received a summer reading list yet. (Yes, I know it’s weird to be sad about not getting homework, but I’m a bit of a geek so leave me be).
But alongside all the things to worry about, there have also been so many positives. I was afraid that I wouldn’t even make one friend and I’ve made at least a dozen already – people who are in my college (and hopefully future flatmates) and people in my program. Each and every one of them has been sweet, welcoming and 100% accepting of the weirdo that I am, and it honestly makes me so excited to hopefully meet them in September. I’ve found so many ‘twins’ in my college I’ve started to lose track, I’ve found a fellow cottage mom who I will most likely spend many nights cooking with, I’ve found fellow Disney nerds and some of the kindest individuals (I won’t name names but if you’re reading this you know who you are – snow sticks together) I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. So yes, it’s been a bit crazy. I honestly wish I had more things to do with this time other than sit and wait. Still, the positive is I’ve got so many great new friends and my future university both looks and sounds fantastic! I can’t wait for this remaining time to pass and for things to hopefully sort themselves out so I can head off to my fabulous new home in September. In a place like this, with the people that I’ve met, I think I can safely say that I’m going to head into the best four years of my life. I just can’t wait to actually get started.
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx
P.S. Thank you all so much for reading!! I hope you enjoyed it 😊 Please don’t forget to hit that little like button and subscribe, so you don’t miss out on future posts. Also, I’m always keen to hear advice or content ideas, and I’m looking for inspiration for a new project to start alongside my new life at uni so please share your thoughts in the comments section! Also also, if you want to do a guest post, I would love to feature you so just give me a shout in the comments or contact me.
P.P.S. You’ll all be pleased to know that as part of conquering my shyness, I did an interview for an article about Durham offer holders. It was such a fun experience and the writer, Zara, did such a great job writing the article so if you’re interested, I’d highly recommend you go check that out here (click the here to read the article 😉)
P.P.P.S. Just kidding that’s all I have for today – see you guys next time xx