Student panel: The reality of university life

Posted: 23 May 2019 - 08:48
Uni life
We recently asked our panel to give their views on uni life. Is it everything they expected? What's the best thing about going to uni? What advice would they give to students starting university in September? We've captured their responses below.
Simona Hromadová 

Before I came to Glasgow, I had imagined how my life would look like – my flat, university, friends and social life. I expected to have it all from the very beginning. To my surprise, it took me a while to get used to my new life – the culture, language, university and people – everything was so unfamiliar. I missed my old friends and family – and this is something every international student must deal with. I definitely hadn’t been prepared for this – not having good friends but having plenty of free time. 

However, as the time progressed, I met all those wonderful people – at work, in societies and on campus – and learnt to say yes:

- Want to go out? – Yes.
- What about a martial art taster session? – Yes. 
- Do you want to dye your hair? – Yes.

This approach took me to trying whole bunch of new things, taking up a new hobby and, of course, trying to do my best at uni (which reminds me I should learn how to say no to procrastination and yes to time management and go back to the Accounting & Finance revision, because my exam is in a few days).

So my advice is aimed for all those international students there, who are currently watching vlogs, reading blogs and picturing their uni life. Do not expect it to be something you have experienced before – it won’t be. And it’s only up to you how well it will turn out. If you put only 20% effort in, expect only 20% results. If you want uni to be everything you have dreamt of go out, join a society, meet new people, be open to all crazy ideas and most importantly, always say YES.

/files/simona-hromadov%C3%A1-1">Simona Hromadová

Simona Hromadová

/files/uni-life-0">Uni life

Uni life

Katrina Scotford

University has been a challenging yet rewarding experience that, while possessing some surprises, was also largely what I was expecting. Uni is a large jump from high school and demands quite a bit of dedication in order to succeed, but the chance to do so is one that should be relished because it is such a unique occasion.

Some preconceptions I held before coming to uni were that it would be isolating and difficult to engage in all uni life had to offer. Upon arriving, I realised this couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Because Durham is unique in that it offers a collegiate system, this special feature allows full engagement with very little chance of feeling isolated and left out. Both the uni and the colleges hold Freshers Fairs where everything that is available to get involved in is on display- from university pole dancing to the college bee-keeping society. Because all of these opportunities are advertised from the first week, you are able to sign up for things you may not have been expecting, and delve into interests that you never acted upon prior to coming to uni.

Another aspect of the collegiate system is that you quickly come to know a vast amount of people; more so than if you were living in university halls of residence. Each college becomes a home, and is so much more than a place to live. You dine and socialise with hundreds of other first years, coming to feel like this place you are living is a community where support is readily available from many different places.

If you are living in university halls of residence (Durham, Oxford, and Cambridge are the only unis that still have collegiate systems), then some things I would advocate are getting to know the people in your hall and even your building by hosting a chill evening in and sharing some pizza. The more you initiate social activities, the more likely you are to get to know people you otherwise would not have.

Coming to uni, the largest shock was the ability to start over. Since everyone is new at uni, it is the perfect moment for a clean slate. It is an opportunity to explore who you are and push outside of your comfort zone to try things you wouldn’t have previously thought of. If you want to try becoming more outgoing, or pursue that nagging interest in rowing, uni is the chance to act on such impulses.

Personally, the top characteristic of uni has been the independence and friendship that you cultivate along the way. No matter how far away you come from the attend uni, every person is living in an unfamiliar town with strange people and because of this everyone leans on each other.

The biggest piece of advice I could give out would be to get involved with as much as you humanly can. Go to all the Freshers Fairs and sign up for anything and everything you have even the slightest inkling of interest in. Chances are you won’t end up going to the practices and meetings for everything, but you can always try them all and then slim down the list to what you enjoy the most. The more involved you can be, the more you can expand your breadth of friends and acquaintances, getting the most out of your uni experience.

/files/katrina-scotford-0">Katrina Scotford

Katrina Scotford

Charlotte Dyer

Going to university so far has been nearly what I expected it to be. I knew what I was expecting in terms of what the course had to offer, although I was not expecting how close together a lot of the assignment deadlines would be. I had 3 which had to be handed in within the space of a few days!

My biggest reality check was how expensive everything is, especially food. Sometimes I struggled to make my money last till the end of the term.

The best thing for me about university is meeting people who have the same passions as you and are motivated to do their best, which didn’t happen much during college. 

One piece of advice that I would give to students starting university in September this year is to not worry about how other people are doing academically and focus on your own grades. Don’t feel down about someone doing better than you, when you have tried your hardest. I would also suggest to them to try and pace out your maintenance loan as the money can go quickly, try to set limits on how much you plan to spend each week until your next loan payment.

/files/charlotte-dyer-0">Charlotte Dyer

Charlotte Dyer

Jason Laryea

When you think of university you think of fun nights out, complete freedom and timeless memories. This is what I expected and one thing that I have learnt first-hand was that if you want something you have to go for it; yes, university is full of like-minded individuals and interesting characters, but you still have to be proactive and create the student experience you want for yourself. This was one key reality check for that I would encourage prospective students to remember- yes you have complete freedom but being in a new city its easy to expect everything to fall into place and this was my biggest shock, not everyone is willing to be social and if you’re anything like myself you can easily take this as a sign to mind your own business- but trust me people are feeling the same as you they just won’t say it so be proactive.

Money. The five-letter word that no one has any clue about how to control, your student finance is NOT, and I repeat NOT for you to spend on unnecessary things trust me I am speaking from experience. Remember to budget yourself and put money aside for your rent, the main purpose for your student finance, food and household items. After you have deducted costs for all of that then you can think about going out. This is one piece of advice that if you’re going to pay attention to it should be this - MONEY GOES JUST AS QUICKLY AS IT COMES - so please budget yourselves. If you need any help doing so there are online budgeting sheets and I am sure your student services can help you in that aspect as well; also make sure you check if you are eligible for any bursaries or grants specifically from your university because universities love to hide these money gems and only the only the proactive will find it.

Aside from finances, one thing I have learnt is that not every lecture will be helpful and not every professor will be the greatest in the world so learn to use your library to your advantage even if you are in your first year, start early because in your later years you’ll thank yourself!!! With lectures in mind I will say that you are not doing yourself any favours simply copying the slides try and deduce the relevant information into notes for use later that way they won’t be so daunting when it comes to revision.

To round off, university is rollercoaster and no one can ever truly be prepared for it; my advice come with an open mind, a willingness to learn and grow as a person and ultimately have fun doing all of that because why not?!

/files/jason-laryea">Jason Laryea

Jason Laryea

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