I am about to leave university after three glorious years and I could not have asked for a better experience. Although the essay writing and the study of English Literature has been a blast, the best things I learnt from university are not based on academia. With rising tuition fees, society frequently questions whether attending university is ‘worth it’. I mean, what if after paying thousands of pounds you don’t get a highly qualified job after graduating? I would argue, and I’m sure many students would agree, that the best parts of university are outside of the lecture theatre and that getting a degree teaches you more than just your subject, it prepares you for the adult world. Here are eight things I have learnt from my degree, none of which are connected to my educational study:
How to ‘adult’
Living at home with your parents does not prepare you for moving house and living independently. You get fed, given money and driven around; you rarely have to think for yourself or make major decisions. But when you start university, everything changes; this is a chance to learn to be independent. You learn how to cook, wash your own clothes and keep a house clean, you learn to time manage and complete work without parental influence. You have to arrange your own transport and ensure that you and your friends get home safe. All these seemingly small everyday things prepare you for life away from the safety of home.
When living away from home it is sometimes difficult to remain in contact with everyone you left behind. One thing that university teaches you is how to maintain connections with the important people and how to know when you need to distance yourself from people you no longer need to associate with. University teaches you who you can live without, by testing relationships through separation and the making of new friends. Going to university alone means that you do not have a back-up plan; you have to rely on yourself and your new friends to help you to navigate any dangers and the potential disasters that come your way. Deciding how to get home, how much to drink and deciding whether you need to see a doctor or to visit A&E are all things that land on your shoulders at university. I know that for me, deciding how serious medical ailments are without my Mum present was one of the hardest things and something I had to learn from.
You are the only person from your school in a huge new city with thousands of strangers and no directional sense. I don’t mean decisions like what to have for tea or whether you should spend your last fiver on a McDonalds or bleach for the vomit on your carpet. I mean bigger and more influential decisions than that. At university, times can be tough both emotionally and physically. What with prevalent hedonistic drinking and living with people you don’t know, being mature and making the right decision is something that you soon learn to do.
If there is anywhere more accepting than university to have wild and prolific sex, then by all means let me know. University is a hotbed for promiscuous activity and any kind of sexual act is usually celebrated. Whether it is the chart in your kitchen detailing how often you and your housemates get laid or your housemates cheering at the noises through your paper thin walls, university allows you to be sexually free and improve on your bedroom gymnastics.
Stereotypically, students are poor. With bad accommodation and the threat of beans for tea, the typical student has to stick to a weekly budget.
I just checked my bank balance and now I want to cry #poorstudent
— Aline de Montmollin (@Aline_0193) May 21, 2015
Given control of their own finances for the first time, a bank account full of your newest student loan can be both a beauty and a curse. Learning how to save your money for rent and food, rather than squandering it all on alcohol is a valuable lesson university teaches you. I’m telling you, those yellow reduced stickers are a thing of beauty.
Making new friends
With most of my primary school friends entering the same high school as me, the last time I had to make friends was as a four year old. At university, you are in the middle of a terrifying arena of powerful fun, a place in which you need to find like-minded allies in order to enjoy the experience. It teaches you how to find caring, trustworthy friends who will look after you, but finding the right people can be a challenge for students who are used to the comfort of childhood friends.
Having the time of your life.
Enjoy every second of it while it lasts.
Now i understand what they meant by “enjoy uni life”
— Joseph (@JoBrooooo) May 12, 2015