Hashtag uni life is a lot harder when you’re hashtagging away from home. Suddenly you have to cook for yourself, clean for yourself, take care of yourself and register at a medical centre yourself (this one I found particularly daunting). You also have to make sure you don’t accidentally die of malnourishment. Pot noodles every day suddenly don’t seem like such a good idea when you feel like a dried up old lemon in the fruit bowl of life. Not to mention the added stresses of a social life (or lack thereof). Moving somewhere you don’t know and having to tell people what course you’re doing approximately 4.2 million times a day can be exhausting. It’s even worse when you feel like a fish out of water, don’t fit in and just want to go home already.
My first term at university was definitely not a smooth transition. Some areas I excelled in – I had already cooked for myself in the past, and had been educated in delicious recipes by my dear mother since I was but wee. I was pretty healthy, actually, and smart about what I got at the supermarket. Sure, there was a month when I’m pretty sure I ate nothing but pasta, but even then I was cooking from scratch.
But while I triumphed in one area, it was only inevitable that I was to tumble in another – social life. For my first couple of months at university, I struggled to find my “people”. Freshers week seemed to consist of tolerating conversation I found desperately boring but nodded along enthusiastically to appease people. I encountered the charming breed of Fresher Boys, eager to dry-hump anything and everyone in their field of vision. My first night out was somewhat traumatic – I ended up getting pretty drunk at the preswall (pre-drinks for non-Irish) and getting in a taxi and then forgetting the address of my accomodation (drunken tears ensued). My flatmates were nice people, but we didn’t “click” like a lot of people do. This is pretty common, as I’ll discover later on, but at the time I felt pretty crappy, and wondered why I wasn’t having the time of my life, like everyone said I was supposed to.
Well, here’s the little secret of #unilife: everybody is having a tough time. Swap friend problems for boy issues, money trouble for homesickness. Everyone has their own struggles, and you’re not alone in having a hard time. Pictures on Facebook can be deceiving – I’ve been to the most boring, depressing parties with the most boring people, but the pictures on Facebook the day afterwards tell a whole different story – fake smiles, fake friends, fake fun. The Facebook Farce.
Here’s another secret: it gets better. As cheesy and trite as it sounds, you will find a place you belong. My best tip is to join societies and clubs. I found my place in the drama society and it was the best thing that could have happened. Suddenly I was meeting like-minded people who I “clicked” with, was having fun and keeping busy. Now that I’m in my second year, living with brilliant people, having found my place, I couldn’t be happier.
So after aquiring much wisdom over the past year and a half, here’s what you need to know about uni:
1. A hot water bottle is your best friend.
2. But also try and meet people so you can get a human best friend.
3. You will find out the downsides of eating nothing but pasta very, very soon.
4. Keep a note of your address in your phone or on a piece of paper and keep it in your going-out bag
5. Don’t feel pressured to do anything, with anyone, at any time. Your body belongs to you.
6. Soups are a great cure for Fresher’s Flu. Here are some great recipes
7. When making friends, the generic questions can seem boring, but if they’re cool people, the conversation will take a turn for the better.
8. Join as many clubs and societies as you can, take advantage of any uni opportunities that come up..
9. Get a diary to keep on top of your workload (it will pile up on you so fast it’ll scare you senseless).
10. When in real trouble, call your ma and da. You’re not too old for that yet.
But most importantly, make the most of your time at university. You’ll only experience it once.
(Unless you decide to do it again. Then it’s not just the one experience. It’s the two. It’ll be twice.)