11 Things My First Year of University Has Taught Me

Today is the day that I officially finished my first year of university. I honestly can't quite believe how fast these past 8 months have gone by. It's been such an amazing experience, but I've definitely had some ups and downs. Moving to Stirling for university was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I know its cliché, but I really do feel like I've completely grown up over the past few months. Don't get me wrong, I can still be awfully childish, but I can now say with confidence that I know how to look after myself properly. I've learnt a lot over these last eight months, both academically and personally, so I thought I'd share some of them with you!

1. You don't have to live up to the stereotype

This is probably the biggest thing I've learnt this year! Before coming to university, when I thought of the "typical student lifestyle," I thought of constant nights out, messy kitchens and eating pot noodles for breakfast. Don't get me wrong, for a lot of people, that really is the case. My kitchen in halls is always a mess, and a lot of people that I know go out at least 3 nights a week. But I've realised that I'm not your typical student, and I'm okay with that.

2. It's okay to change direction

During my first semester, I was studying history, sociology and professional education. Throughout my sixth year at school, I was so sure that this was the right degree for me and that one day I would become a history teacher. However, once I got to university that quickly changed. I realised that history wasn't for me, and I didn't want to spend the next four years studying something that I didn't like. Now I'm doing my degree in sociology and criminology, and so far, I'm loving it. I find it so much more interesting, and even though I've absolutely no idea what career I see myself doing five years from now, I'm still so glad that I changed my degree path.

3. My family mean everything to me

Moving to Stirling was a huge step for me. Although I'd been looking forward to moving out and having a sense of independence, I didn't realise how much I would actually miss my parents. I love having my own space, but I really miss being able to see my parents everyday. My mum is definitely my best friend, and I never would have gotten through this year without her help. She's been a massive shoulder to cry on. My dad has also been a huge support system for me. Growing up, we really did argue with one another like cat and dog, but now that I've grown up, we get on better than ever and I really do value his advice. He always knows the right thing to say, and I know that he would do absolutely anything to help me. I can't thank my parents enough for all the help and support that they give me.

4. It's okay to hate nightclubs

Nightclubs make me so nervous, especially when you can hardly move because they're so busy. I like going for a dance with friends, but after a while, I just get anxious and want to leave.

5. I like beer more than wine

I should probably thank my boyfriend for this. I agree it's not the most ladylike beverage, but for some reason, I really quite like the taste.

6. Having a job whilst studying gives you a true appreciation for money 

Back in September, I started working at my current job and I absolutely love it. The job itself really interests me, and I also have the nicest manager alive. But working alongside my studies really has given me a true appreciation for money. I'm much more careful about what I spend my money on, and I've been trying really hard to save as much of it as I can. Also, if it wasn't for my job, I probably would never have met Sophie! She is one of the kindest, funniest girls that I've ever met, and I really do value her friendship.

7. You won't always get on with everyone 

I can't stress this one enough. At university, you meet so many new people that you just want to be friends with. But there will always be people that for some reason, just don't seem to like you. I've spent a lot of time over the last few months feeling upset because of things people have said or done, but it has also taught me how to have a thicker skin. I have friends that I love and adore, and I don't need people in my life who are going to constantly put me down or make me feel excluded.

8. You can survive on a diet of pasta

I can't even come to comprehend how much pasta I have eaten this year. Being a student, I live for anything quick and easy, and pasta is usually the answer. Jordan always makes fun of me because I eat so much of it.

9. Moving into university accommodation was the best idea

There have plenty of times over the past year when I have cursed living in halls, but overall, I definitely wouldn't have done things any differently. First year is the time to meet new people and have new experiences, and I definitely don't think any of that would've been the same if I'd stayed at home and travelled in every day. Of course, everyone is different, but I would definitely encourage anyone in the future to move into halls if they can.

10. Relationships can still be successful 

Jordan and I have been together for almost a year now, but before coming to university, I was nervous that being apart for long periods of time would put a strain on our relationship. But thankfully, it hasn't at all. We've been able to see each other much more often than we thought we would, it just takes effort from both sides. I think the distance has actually made us a lot stronger, as we truly value every single moment that we have together.

11. People who want to be in your life will make the effort

Of course this works both ways, but it's become apparent to me this year how much effort I put in to other people, and how little I so often get back. It's been so common for people to ask when they'll next be seeing me or when I'm next coming home, but a lot of the time, it would be just as easy for people to make the effort to come and see me. This year has 100% shown me who my true friends, and I couldn't be more grateful to have them in my life.

The past eight months have been such a whirlwind of different emotions and experiences, but I've had such an amazing time and I've absolutely loved it. I'm excited to go home now though for a few months to just relax, spend time with my friends and family, and prepare myself for next year.

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