‘It was a year of independence, self-love, experimentation and most of all, at the end of the year, a sense of escapism from Seychelles (home).
My first months were marked by homesickness, uncertainty and depression, with my world doing a complete 180 in a matter of a few months but, looking back, although tough, it was one of the best things to happen because it forced me out of my comfort zone and has led to me making new friends, cementing bonds with my old ones, treasuring my family, all whilst giving me the freedom to grow and learn at my own pace both academically and personally.’ ~ From Seychelles to Malaysia
Everyone said that university is going to be the best few years of our young lives. And in many ways it is. It’s also the most challenging; emotionally and mentally. And I suppose physically depending on what you’re doing. It’s also the most educational; not only in the fact that what you’ll get at the end of it could dictate what you do for the rest of your life but in what it teaches you about yourself, about others and about the world. It’s almost surreal that the first year has come to an end; that this journey is going by so fast.
I reached out to some of my friends all over the world to hear what they had to say about their first year at uni. If you can take anything away, it’s that despite the fact that this earth we live on is such a huge place, no matter where we are, we’re all going through the same things. We’re never alone, we all know what it feels like to be here at this moment in time and we’re all here for each other, or at least we should be, supporting one another, until we make it to the end of the road.
University is where all these crazy stories your parents tell you come from. What all these teen movies build up to. It’s a messy set of years where anything is possible. And this is definitely how I feel after my first year. The stress of your degree mixed with the complications of social life and attempting to plan a future. It was fun and scary and eye-opening. But I am nonetheless grateful for it ~ From Trinidad to London
‘Matriculating at the University of your dreams is similar to spending your whole life wishing you could be a Kardashian and one day waking up as Kourtney: you enjoy the ride but at the same time, you’re unable to put anything you’re going through into words. I have never experienced such growth as I have while being at university; I’ve put a generous amount of my pride aside to pave way for beautiful friendships with beautiful, funny people and there’s never been anything so freeing. One thing I’ve learnt is that uni kids are the most outrageously funny, down to earth kids you’ll ever meet and would have the honour to be friends with! Our constant ‘this uni bare ruined my life’ is actually our anthem, but at the end of the day, there truly is nothing like being at the university you worked so hard to get into. My advice is to chase your dreams and you will be rewarded with a beautiful start to your future. Oh, and be prepared for those thin wall noise experiences in your campus accommodation! X’ ~ From Seychelles to Kent (UK)
It takes longer than expected to get used to being away from home, managing your own budget, acclimatising to the new weather, maybe learning a new language, figuring out how to make your new home more comfortable and just getting used to your new life. Some people get into it right away, while others are only just truly settling in and feeling a sense of comfort. And there’s no shame in saying that you miss home, that you’re getting used to everything at your own pace. Homesickness, loneliness and anxiety are often the hallmarks of your first year at uni. For some, it’s not as easy as others and some still haven’t found that magic university spark that everyone talks about. The important thing is not to give up, to step out of your comfort zone and to talk to people, to be proactive in making friends, because they’re the ones who’ll be there to support you. No one’s experience of anything in life will ever be the same, be patient because everyone to their own time.
In my first year at Uni, I have met the most amazing people and been a big part of the rugby team. I can’t believe the first year is over, it seems only last week that I was moving into halls scared that I wouldn’t make any friends but I couldn’t have been more wrong. At the beginning of the year, I found my modules quite challenging and I felt like I was thrown in at the deep end but as the year went on my confidence has definitely grown ~ From Cornwall to London
‘The first year of Uni was not exactly what I expected it to be, I met new people, made new friends, some that I don’t even talk to anymore. It’s kind of a learning process, you are still finding yourself, finding out what you like, experiencing new cultures and constantly changing study methods. All these new things while trying to maintain a decent grade average and find time to sleep with all the last-minute assignments. In the end, if you’re passionate about what you are doing you’ll always find the motivation. For me personally, the motivation is usually the deadline.’ ~ From Seychelles to Slovakia
Whether it’s about making friends or keeping them, which is often harder than you anticipate, the important thing to remember is that quality is far better than quantity and that in this new world which you have come to, there will be so many people to meet who will share the same interests and hobbies as you and who will stay with you when you need them the most. In the first few weeks, you make soooo many friends, you exchange numbers and social media and you promise to keep in touch, and then you slowly cement bonds with those who will stay and some will remain close to you, while others drift away. And that is completely normal. You fall out with people you thought you were going to be close with, and you get close to the ones you least expected. If you sit in your room and feel like there’s something missing, just look out your window and imagine the hundreds of people in this new city/country that you’re in, and remember that all you need to do, is go out and meet them. The thing we’ve all learnt is to embrace the constant change because this is what the real world is all about.
‘Well, I was actually obligated to enter law school, which made me actually kinda hate my course (I guess I can deal with it since I’m already in)! I’m super shy, so when I first arrived on campus (thinking “why didn’t I go study music in Boston” or something), I actually tripped and fell. Yes, in the middle of law school, with all of those preppy students looking at me with gaping eyes. My friends never let me forget this. That’s my first year of university in a nutshell’ ~ Brazilian in Brazil
‘Life as a University student is not how it was described when we were younger, dreaming about reaching the final step thinking it will be easy and pressure free. It is the exact opposite of easy and pressure free because at University you find yourself wishing you had more time to finish your tasks, having undecided thoughts about what to study for finals, worrying about hitting rock bottom, going mad, sleep deprivation, the worry of disappointing your parents who are expecting the absolute best from you. I mean yes, it’s a new experience, making new friends or having old friends you grew up with by your side in the same situation as you. I haven’t studied this much in my life and people say Uni changes you but I didn’t believe it until today.’ ~ Seychellois in Seychelles
Don’t be afraid to try new things, because there is no better time than the present. I try to live by one rule in my life; I’ll try anything once (unless it’s potentially dangerous to my life, illegal or plain idiotic) because I don’t want to reach a point where I regret not having lived life to the fullest. One of my new friends convinced me to try out for the girl’s rugby team. Yes, me! Running around on a muddy field in football boots and throwing around a ball and getting knocked out left right and centre, I couldn’t even imagine it! But guess what, I went for the tryouts and I got the wind knocked out of me when the ball hit me square in the stomach and I was sent rolling across the field, squealing like a little girl. It was hilarious and I had 2 giant bruises for the rest of the week. So no, I did not ever set foot on the field again! BUT I did join the girl’s team as a social member, which means that I get to join them for all their activities, I get to support them from the side of the field and I have made friends with the most eye-opening and amazing group of girls. So try it all! You’ll only ever regret the chances you didn’t take.
At the end of the first year, I finished with more questions than answers and less information than ever before even though at this moment I know more than I’ve ever known ~ From Trinidad to London
For some, the first year at one uni is the continuation of a journey that has already begun. I discovered that just because you think your life is going to go one way, you may very well decide that the thing you dreamt about doing your whole life, may not be all that ideal after all, and so you swap courses, or start a new one after you finish, or wait a couple of years and start again. Point is, for some, the adventure lives on, and they’ve already had their ‘first year’ experience and they’ve basically ridden the rollercoaster before, but it doesn’t make the experience any less fun.
“My Uni definitely has a big “work hard play hard” vibe to it, especially in the law group. You can tell the majority of the students are extroverted and social but also extremely studious. In the senior status program, you have a wide range of backgrounds, both academically and culturally, which is great as there are a lot of different perspectives. The fact that we take an extra course means that you have to be really good at managing your time studying but still have time to go out and enjoy the London life’ ~ From Canada to London
‘My first year of uni, I suppose hasn’t been the typical first for most people. It wasn’t exactly packed with extraordinary events that I will “cherish forever”. Dealing with a long distance relationship and fitness goals, it didn’t leave much for the crazy nights out getting sh*t faced. However, I did throw up all over my bathroom and pass out, so I guess that’s one tick for the uni experience. If uni has taught me anything so far, it is, how hard life is going to be. The school work isn’t the hardest thing I find, it’s the “adult-ting” of taking care of yourself. All in all, I’ve found that uni does open your mind up and forces you to mature in a way that is necessary for life, and that no matter what type of personality you have, you can always find “your people” and enjoy yourself.’ – From Seychelles to Essex (UK)
University is about school and learning and it’s also about ‘adulting’, and figuring out what you want from life. It’s all very serious and potentially headache inducing but it’s also about making crazy memories and making silly mistakes because now is the time to make them. It’s about going out till crazy hours of the night and coming home when the sun rises and filling your fridge with all the food you want to eat and then realising you’ve spent all your money on food in the first week of the month! It’s about pub crawls, too much beer and socials, and playing music too loud and risking your flatmates banging on your door. It’s about flings and nights spent in the library ‘stalking’ cute boys and girls. It’s about those parties where you play Disney music at the end of the night when everyone has gone home but you’re still a bit tipsy and Disney is life! It’s about sleepovers and cooking disasters and burning toast and borrowing something from your flatmates cupboard and replacing it super fast so they won’t notice. It’s about ordering food and watching movies procrastinating when you should be studying for that test next week. It’s about relationships and figuring out who to trust and breakups and new loves and trying to find yourself in a group of people who are also trying to find themselves. It’s a whole mess of hormones and mixed emotions and questions but it’s bloody beautiful because it’s life!
University is a life-changing experience and no matter what it is that you do, the memories that you make will stay with you for a lifetime. And with first year over, it’s just the beginning and the next few years can only get better.
Sit back, grab some Oreos and I can’t wait to see what life has to offer us next.