What my first year at Royal Holloway has taught me

Connor Deith on his first year at Royal Holloway.

It is absolutely inconceivable for me to think that my first year at Royal Holloway is over already, however with this article I intend to revel in the nostalgia in order to express what my first year has taught me. It has been a year I won’t forget, and I hope that, when the time comes, you won’t either.

There are several things that my first year taught me, not necessarily out of choice but rather out of circumstance, however not all of them are equally important in my opinion. On the one hand, yes, perhaps staying up all night to write an essay I could’ve done three weeks ago wasn’t such a good plan, but that stuff really isn’t important to me. The things that have meaning are the things that revolve around the potential outcomes that arise from being surrounded by new people, the primary one of these being how it feels to be regarded as a friend. As an introverted person, university has taught me to be compassionate towards others, to show feelings or concern in situations where it hadn’t really occurred to me to do so before. If you’re lucky enough to make your closest friend within your own flat, then you’ll understand the difference it makes to live together and develop a camaraderie with them that ought to be treasured. Ultimately, I learnt that it’s not impossible at all to make friends if you’re willing to try, leading me to my next big lesson, which is that my first year was also a year of ‘firsts’, a series of experiences that never would have happened had I not consciously made the decision to at least try and get the most out of it. This thought played in my head like a tape for the duration of the year, and to good effect. I would’ve missed out on a whole host of nights both out and in, heated (yet mostly drunken) debates over nonsense and conversations lasting until dawn that gave me a more fulfilling experience. We’ve all heard it before, but university (much like life) is what you make of it. There’s no use in being disappointed with the results you didn’t get from the effort you didn’t put in.

It’s hard for me to avoid grandiose or romanticised language whenever I talk about my first year, with it having only just finished and with so much more ahead. It seems absurd, almost defeatist, to think of it as ‘the best year of my life’, however, it was without a doubt the best year of my life so far. Sure, at the time it didn’t seem so spectacular, but then again nothing ever does; in my opinion, it’s all to do with how you choose to perceive it, and what you decide to make of it.