student life

My Experience of University as a ‘Mature Student’

Written by CarrieJennifer

The Student Life section is delveing intot he lives of real life students this year, taking a look into the varried experiences current and former students have had whilst at univeristy. If you want to get involved tweet us @KTL_Lifestyle

Introduce yourself 

My name is Carrie-Jennifer Cairns, I’m 25 years old and in my first year of studying English with Creative Writing at Aberdeen University. The creative writing part doesn’t come in until my third year so I’m really excited about that.

What did you expect before coming to university and did it live up to your expectations?

I was really looking forward to Uni until probably the month before I moved. I moved 180 miles from my home, my family and all of my friends, and for most of the waiting period I was really excited however in the month before I moved I started to panic about age gaps (I’m 25, most of the people I know are 18-20) and people not liking me, and I just got really generally anxious about not fitting in.

What is your favourite memory from your first year of university?

In November 2016 alone we had 5 different birthdays, and I’m in charge of the cakes. I love to bake and to keep an eye out on everyone, and coupled with my age this is how my nickname of Grandma developed within my halls. There 160-ish people and most of them call me Grandma/Granny Carrie. And on January 25th, myself and my other Scottish friend Mhari hosted a Burns Night dinner for 15 people, (which is where the photo above comes from). We cooked a traditional, Scottish dinner of Scotch Broth, Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, and Shortbread, which everyone loved.

Where did you live in first year and tell us about your room?

I stay in Hillhead Student Village, in Old Aberdeen. My flat is called Fyfe House and it has individual bedrooms, and shared toilets and kitchens. My wee room is packed because I have so much stuff, but its cosy. And from my window I can see (and often hear) the smokers out at the smoking area which is great for my being so nosy.

Did you ever pull an all-nighter to finish an assignment, if so how was it for you?

In the final week of November, I entirely switched night time into daytime. Everyone had exams coming up and I had 2 essays and a take-home exam to hand in, followed by an actual exam. The library was packed so I started sleeping through the day and going to the library from 11pm -7am. It was quieter with less distractions and I got so much more work done.

What’s the one thing you couldn’t live without during first year?

In November I invested in a proper toastie maker, and it was probably the best £5 I’ve ever spent. I remember one night ending up with 12 drunk people in my tiny kitchen while I made them all cheese toasties.

What do you prefer halls or house and why?

I don’t really have experience of flat-sharing with friends, but for a couple of years I did live in a flat with an ex-boyfriend. I definitely prefer halls at the moment. Its so convenient. If I’m bored I nip along the corridor or down the stairs and there is always someone to talk to, plus I’ve met so many wonderful people. I wouldn’t have had that staying at home, or living in a wee flat.

If you could change anything from first year what would it be and why?

I’m pretty sure if I could change anything, future me would like to tell current me to worry a bit less. I’m in first year, its so different to anything I’ve done before and as much as I’m enjoying it I just get slightly panicky about exams. And one of the essays I should be writing right now. Also I should probably read a bit more…

Did/do you have to do a dissertation – if so what on and if not what do you do instead?

No dissertations for me this year, however my dissertation (if I remember correctly) is mainly creative writing based so I am really looking forward to that. I might regret these words within the next three years.

Best module you had to take and why?

English is my degree, but at the moment its only 15 of my credit points. I really loved English at school, and had one teacher who I think knew this and knew I was good but I sort of rebelled against and made no effort with because I was going through an “I don’t want to be at school’ phase. Currently I have rediscovered my love for English and for books. I’m also taking a 15-credit course on linguistics. Last semester I hated it because it was the basics of phonetics and I couldn’t quite grasp it, this semester is more about language and society and its pretty interesting most of the time.

Worst module you had to take and why?

One I’m studying this semester is Celtic. I took it thinking it was more to do with myths and legends, but a lot of it is ancient law and literature and its terrifying me how little a grasp I seem to have on it.

Friends you’re glad you met at university?

All my friend-group are great, and so varied. I’ve made friends from Denmark, Germany and Italy, as well as America, Spain and Sweden. They all fascinate me because my travel experiences are very limited. I went to Spain when I was five but other than that all holidays have been within the UK mainland. I tried to arrange trips abroad with friends in my teens but discovered I have a real fear of flying. So meeting all these new people has introduced to me new languages, cultures and traditions, whilst also instilling in me a desire to travel for the first time ever. I want to see where everyone lived and grew up, and to be able to go overseas to see them.

What advice would you give to your younger self before coming to university?

Up until I actually came to university I regretted not going when I’m younger so I’d definitely tell myself that waiting was the right decision. Also give yourself more time to prepare for things, don’t worry so much about what other people think of you and most importantly read as much as you can.