Saturday, June 22Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Lessons Learnt from First Year

Whilst it seems like only a few weeks ago that we bright-eyed fresher’s moved in to RoHo’s stunning campus, first year is sadly coming to an end. It’s been a busy year and a lot has been learnt so I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts with you.

On living the ‘adult life’

You turn 18 and arrive at university with the expectations that living away from the security of home will miraculously transform you into a fully-fledged adult overnight. That is far from true. Life away from home comes with new responsibilities and challenges, like cooking, doing laundry and managing your money. All of these things require a degree of maturity but the expectation of becoming an actual ‘adult’, in anything but age, will not be met. Even some third years finishing their degree say that they don’t feel competent to be adults in the real world. University is a transition period during which you’re going to gradually mature but you shouldn’t feel the pressure to do so at a crazy rate. It can be demanding but you shouldn’t feel like all of your fun has to be abandoned, you are still young and it should be enjoyed.

On relationships

The worst piece of advice ever given to me by a teacher during sixth form was “If you’re in a relationship – forget him now or you will during fresher’s anyway, so don’t waste your time”. The stereotypical image of university emphasises the importance on being single and free in truly living the university life. There is no other way to be around masses of hormonally-fuelled teenagers, right? Wrong. Everybody is different as are there relationships. Some couples make it through university long-distance and aren’t weakened by it, others, it’s just not for them. Many people get into relationships during university and face other hurdles. Whether any couple survives depends on the individuals and their situations. But don’t ever feel like you should end a relationship just to fit in with the stereotype, it isn’t worth it. Equally, it isn’t worth investing all of your time and energy into a relationship and consequently neglecting friendships. Finding a balance is vital.

On friendships

Following on from the previous point, university is an amazing place to meet and befriend people who are likely to be your friends for life. It may be a cliché but because you’re living in such close proximity and seeing each other so often, friendships intensify much quicker at university than in other settings. Fresher’s week is obviously one of the common bonding times because everybody is new and looking to find their place. But friends can be made throughout the year, through courses, societies, flats etc. Don’t limit your university friendships to uni though, keep in contact and if possible, visit each other throughout the holidays!

On opportunities

University life is riddled with opportunities to do things outside of your degree, be it sports, societies or volunteering. Get stuck in as much as you can. Not doing enough has to be one of my biggest regrets about first year. In second and third year free time is more valuable but in first year you definitely have enough to spare so what better way than to to develop your interests? Also take advantage of opportunities to visit places, whether a trip to the theatre or one to Budapest as I went on with Psychology Soc. Each experience is significant and the friendships gained through them are invaluable.

On your degree

Of course, among friendships, relationships, adult-ing and opportunities, you are at university to do a degree. Try your best to work at it. Yes, everybody likes to procrastinate and enjoy themselves but the degree is obviously the reason you’re here. Sometimes it can feel like a chore to keep up with but if you ever need to motivate yourself, just remember that you are spending a hefty amount to do it so it’s worth investing time into in any way you can. Also, working throughout the year and managing your time well really lessens the pressure at the end – take this from someone who did a bit too much cramming.