Freshman Year

It’s coming up to that time of year. Possibly more exciting than Christmas, and if you have relatives like mine, then potentially just as embarrassing. And that’s moving away to Uni.

I know that this past week loads of you have received an invitation to your chosen university (mine was Newcastle University)- or maybe one you didn’t expect to go to, but should be equally as amazing. You’ll have heard about accommodation possibly, be receiving reading lists, trying to convince your parents to let you do the huge IKEA shop, and maybe even doing some Facebook stalking of potential flatmates. I did all of this and much more in the run up to uni. Although I’ll be peer mentor-ing some (hopefully) lovely freshers in my second year, I want to do a bit of online peer mentoring as well…

In the next few weeks I’ll have several university related posts for you (the titles may change, but they’ll all be there), including:

My Freshman Year (this post)
Fresher’s Week (flatmates, social stuff, work…)
Preparing To Leave For Uni: The Things You Actually Need
Preparing To Leave For Uni: Food Staples To Bring
Budgeting In Uni
The Recipes You Should Really Learn
Lecture Theatre Lunches (packed lunches)
Avoiding The Freshman 15
Do You Change At Uni?
Second Year’s Advice
Final Words of Advice: My Top 10 Tips

So, to my Freshman Year. I’ll discuss Fresher’s Week in more detail in another post (Newcastle is renowned for its Fresher’s Week), but I want to talk to you about my first year in general. First things first:

Don’t worry about the work being too hard.

If you are passionate about the course you’ve chosen, although the work may be challenging, it wont be impossible. I hated reading Beowulf and Chaucer in Old English, but got through it, because somewhere in me I was still passionate about anything related to literature. You will receive plenty of support from your peer mentor, personal tutor, and other staff. I’m not sure about other universities, but they probably have equivalents to all of these things. I was told (and believe it) that the jump between GCSE and A-Level is bigger than the jump between A2 level and Uni. The style of writing for English was completely different at uni (I can do a separate post on this if anyone wants), but although several things we were told to do at A2 no longer cut the mustard, I don’t remember the jump being as hard as GCSE to A-Level.

My first year was amazing. I didn’t want to come home in the summer, and it went by much faster than I had expected. I did things I didn’t think I was capable of, and came back to Bradford to find that home suddenly seemed a little bit too small. My first year meant that I gained more independence, and as I’m someone who enjoys doing things alone, this was fine by me. I never actually experienced homesickness. It’s fine if you don’t, and it’s also fine if you do. I won’t tell you first year was all perfect…

  • We had issues finding a second year house
  • Our lights went off one winter evening and we had to move our desk lamps into the kitchen to cook
  • The pipes burst and flooded the corridor
  • Some of my study groups never turned up to study sessions
  • I forgot to hand in part of my first essay and had to do a mad dash to give it to my seminar leader
  • My flatmate managed to set the fire alarm off in the first few days and we all had to evacuate
  • Upstairs had really loud parties and kept us up until 5am
  • We stayed up to watch over my flatmate who had concussion
  • I offended one lecture by asking if she prefer to be called Miss or Mrs
  • I was spiked in a pub

but all in all I can look back and laugh at what went wrong. More than what went wrong I remember what went right…

  • I learnt to do a weekly shop and plan meals alone, on a budget
  • I made AMAZING friends
  • I produced my own portfolio of creative writing, which actually had some potential
  • I met three authors
  • I managed to get myself an unofficial poetry mentor
  • I visited plenty of places on the metro, including the beach at Tynemouth
  • I went on nights out and society balls
  • The end of the Christmas on saw myself and one of my best friends walking up a deserted Northumberland Street without shoes on, clutching a broken umbrella between two f us, in the bitter Newcastle sleet.
  • I started blogging
  • I performed for one exam, infront of my whole workshop
  • I got to experience vintage fairs, food festivals, and markets
  • I saw plays: a modern production of Macbeth, a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • I spent hours in local coffee shops and cocktail bars
  • I learnt that I prefer this to clubbing
  • Having said this the final night out I did was clubbing, and it was the best
  • And another night out clubbing I ended up waltzing with someone in Digital.
  • I also did a night out on caffeine due to antibiotics, and learnt that I enjoy this more than being drunk
  • I explored loads and now know Newcastle like the back of my hand
  • I attended new exercise classes: Pilates, Body Conditioning, Pump & Tone, Yogalates, Piloxing, Spinning…
  • I read over 50 books
  • Learnt how to write a proper CV and Covering Letter- which landed me a job when I got home for the summer
  • I went on a cocktail bar crawl that saw me drinking seven cocktails, 3 shots, and a jaeger bomb, falling off of a table at Bierkeller, and the next morning sat under a blanket fort on my bed contemplating my life decisions. Until my friend and I decided to go get brunch that is. I’m not sure when/ if we are planning to do this again.
  • I saw professional and amateur stand up comedy
  • I went to a bonfire night display in the fancy area called Jesmond nearby with my closest friends
  • I went to movie nights at the best local tearoom around (they have an underground cinema) with friends where we drank hot drinks, ate cake, and (at Christmas) watched The Grinch
  • I had sleepovers and girls nights, and nights where we had a meal with drinks and a walk by the quayside
  • I wrote countless essays
  • I learnt not to judge (most) people on first impressions
  • I went to a house party consisting of the entire comedy society and few of us lucky non-comedians
  • I achieved a high 2.1 at the end of the year
  • I managed to retain the majority of my dignity.

I could keep going, but basically this has been the best year of my life so far. People say that Fresher’s is the best week of the year, but play your cards right and it doesn’t have to be. I have every intention of my second year being even better. The thing is, don’t let anyone tell you what constitutes a great year. I enjoyed every second of mine, but to others it may seem pretty boring. My idea of a great year wasn’t getting drunk every night and waking up in my own vomit, but maybe that’s yours. Or maybe your idea of a great year is living in the library? Just enjoy it, however you go about it.

I hope that the next few posts can give you an even better picture of what uni life is like. Until the next one, congrats on getting in. You’ve worked hard, and this is where the fun and, not to sound dramatic, what will actually be the rest of your adult life can begin…


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