Relieved to be a Returner

Laura Dowse discusses what it's like as a returner to university.

Are you a returner, suddenly faced with the realisation that you most definitely are no longer a Fresher? Are you filled with horror at the fact that you are quickly growing up, and soon need to become a ‘proper’ adult? Do you find yourself repeatedly telling first years to ‘make the most of it’?

Trust me, I know how you feel. As a third year (scary!) I began this term feeling jealous, envious and even hateful towards the new students, who get the excitement of beginning university. “Why can’t that be me?!” I found myself crying (in my head, of course).

However, once I calmed down, I realised that life as a third year is pretty great! Here are a few reasons why we should be relieved to be returners.

I hope that I have saved money. I have let the first years enjoy the SU (which I know is very helpful for finding Fresher’s friends!). Although I have become somewhat of an old woman, swapping clubbing for nights in with chocolate and films, I have avoided paying for tickets, alcohol and the occasional party dress. To be honest, I enjoy eating chocolate much more than forcing down a shot of burning vodka!

This year, for the first time, I have avoided ‘Fresher’s Flu’. We all know the symptoms of the dreaded disease, which you desperately try to ignore as you ‘power through’ and head to the SU for about the sixth night in a row. If you’ve become a victim this year, then I pity you. However, take some comfort in the knowledge that you will soon recover. But be warned that a constant state of feeling tired is a permanent side-effect of being a student.

I know my way around campus. Wide eyed first year’s looking dazed and confused by their surroundings has become a familiar sight lately. Many times I have been following someone who has suddenly turned 180, having realised that they are heading in completely the wrong direction! (I hope that this was the reason, otherwise I have been following some rather strange people). Although I will admit that I still find Founder’s slightly challenging, I have pretty much sussed out campus.

I am fully aware of what is, and is not, in Egham. I still remember my first trip to my new local high street, excited to see the sights, and eager to surround myself with the hustle and bustle of a student town. Then I got to Egham; oh how I was wrong! But now, two years later, I have come to accept Egham and its quiet ways. As long as I can buy some ice cream, I’m happy.

Speaking of Egham, I know that it is actually further away then I think. Sure, a walk down the hill doesn’t sound too far, but it always takes longer than you think. First year was filled with panicked sprints to the station, and attempts to lug armfuls of food shopping back to campus. None of that this year; supermarket delivery services are the best!

I can cook. Ok, that’s a total lie; I am probably the worst excuse for a chef that you will ever meet. Don’t believe me? At the beginning of this term, I managed to place my entire palm on a red hot hob plate – I told you I was bad. However, as a returner, I know that my culinary skills are lacking. I have returned to university fully aware that I will be mainly living off of pasta, microwave meals and cereal. A majority of first years who arrive thinking that they will be the next Gordon Ramsey, Nigella Lawson or Mary Berry will soon learn to dramatically lower their standards.

So don’t freak out if you’re no longer a Fresher; there are definitely some aspects of first year that no one is going to miss! Remember that you have the best of both worlds, so relax and be relieved that you’re a returner.