Freshers’ week is almost close enough to taste, and you’re probably going crazy waiting at home for these last few days before you finally become a student.
And while your first time of university is going to be an amazing, [mistake-filled] time, there’s also going to be a lot of aspects of student life you’re going to have to get used to.
To help prepare you, Unifresher have put together this list of the things you’ll have to get used to now that you’re a student, and why they’re not really as bad as they sound.
1. No matter how much sleep you get, you’ll always be tired
Within a few months of being at uni, you’ll probably hear yourself and your friends saying ‘I don’t remember what it’s like not to be tired.’ While you somehow managed waking up at the crack of dawn every day at college without feeling too much worse for wear, for some reason no matter how much and how well you sleep at uni (which will probably be a lot), you’ll always be able to fall asleep at any time and at any place.
2. Realising you’re still not an adult
Back when you were a kid, or even as recently as in sixth form, you’d always look at university students and think they seemed so much older, so much wiser and so much more adult than you and your mates, and that they had their lives properly sorted out already. About halfway through first term, when you’re stumbling home from a night out at 6 in the morning dressed as a smurf, you’ll realise that you were very wrong about that.
3. Naps, naps and more naps
Following on from the realisation that you’ll always be tired will come the realisation that you can use and abuse naps to counter this fact. Everyone will be napping all the bloody time in halls, whether it’s immediately after breakfast or right before a night out, and you’ll have to get used to having these little siestas yourself, too.
4. Having a perpetually weak immune system
Due to the constant binge drinking and general environment of living in such a multicultural hub, you’ll almost certainly pick up some nasty freshers’ flu or tonsillitis at some point in your first term at uni. Come December everyone will be sniffling away, and your poor tired body will be hard pressed to defend itself against the great swathes of bacteria in your communal living area and bathrooms. Stock up on those berocca tablets now!
5. Having to work through the night
Regardless of how well you get ahead on your work in your first year of uni, you’ll almost definitely have to pull and all-nighter on at least one occasion. The bizarre thing about this is how commonplace it will seem, and how many people will probably be there in the library with you doing the exact same thing. There’s a strange sense of camaraderie that comes when you’re all cramming together in a similarly frenzied manner, and as uni goes on you’ll definitely get more and more used to having to pull these kinds of stints, so try to learn not to hate it too much.
6. You’ll get fairly constant work guilt
The one thing that’s worse about university than college or working life is the fact that you could technically alllllways be studying. You’ll have such a ridiculously long secondary reading list that there’s no way you’ll ever fully get through it, and you’ll have to get used to the fact that you’re going to feel pretty guilty for the many nights in you spend binging on Netflix documentaries rather than finally reading that textbook chapter you’ve been putting off for so long.
7. You’ll be worried about careers
This creeping fear will start to set in pretty early. You’ll immediately be getting questions about what job you want to do after your degree, and you’ll also have to start thinking about internships and summer jobs pretty early on. If you don’t know what you want to do yet, don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal – but you will definitely still be worried about it!
8. Independent learning
It can be a big jump for some people to go from the hand-held rote learning of A Levels and GCSEs to the kind of course where you only have four contact hours a week, five essays looming and not too much guidance. But again, it’s something you’re going to have to get used to. While the lectures and seminars are great and (hopefully) edifying enough on their own, what’s really great about uni is this whole process of independent learning and reading around your subject. It might be daunting, but you’ve got at least three years of it to get used to, so don’t be put off immediately.
9. You’ll get socially drained
After a few weeks of living surrounded by a load of new friends and going out pretty much all the time, you might start to find yourself feeling a little bit drained of the ability to socialise adequately. There will be some nights where you’ll just want to lie cuddled up in your room with a mug of hot chocolate, and avoid interacting with anyone for as long as possible. This new and unexpected burst of misanthropy might be confusing, but it’s totally normal to feel a bit burnt out and in need of some ‘you’ time every once in a while.
10. Long phone/Skype catchups
Because you won’t be speaking to your friends and family from home anywhere near as often as you were accustomed to before going to uni, you’ll have to master the art of the extended phone or Skype catchup if you want to retain any sort of knowledge of what’s going on in their lives. You’ll constantly hear people Skyping in rooms around you in halls, too, and you’ll have to get used to the numerous technical difficulties these protracted phone calls entail.
11. Intimidating reading lists
When you get your very first preliminary reading list for uni, you might be a little bit terrified at the sheer size of it. You might even want to cry and run away, such will the number of books on it be. And they’ll only get longer from then on! Luckily, you’ll be hard-pushed to find anyone who actually sticks it out and reads everything they’re told to at uni, so don’t think you’ll actually have to read everything you see on there. That really would be terrifying.
12. Unavoidable procrastination
One experience that is universal to any university student is the inevitability of procrastinating, no matter how well you’ve planned out your time and your routine. Nobody can sit in their room or at the library and actually bang out their work for eight solid hours – instead, you’ll spend about four hours on Facebook, two hours talking to friends and wandering around the library, an hour and a half falling into a Wikipedia rabbit hole and learning about the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, fifteen minutes literally staring into space and doing nothing, and probably about fifteen minutes of good old-fashioned work. This is, unsurprisingly, related to the need for frequent all-nighters.
13. The adrenaline rush before speaking in a seminar
The fear of sounding foolish in a seminar of relatively unknown new coursemates and your esteemed-looking professor is far greater than the fear of making a stupid comment back in a class in college. There’s an exhilarating rush you’ll feel between the moment in which you conceive of the brilliant point you want to make, and when enough adrenaline has flooded your system that you actually feel able to raise your hand and stutteringly make it. This will obviously improve once you’ve gotten to know the people on your course better, but it’s still always a comically scary experience the first few times.
Another infuriating aspect of university life that will be inculcated in you is the adherence to the ridiculously complex minutiae of different footnoting systems, with their insanely specific rules. You’ll have full lectures and Q&A sessions on these throughout your first term at university, but those will be of no use when you’re stuck trying to remember the differences between MHRA and MLA with an hour to go before your deadline. Footnotes will be the bane of your essay-writing life, but practice makes them at least marginally less infuriating.
15. Time going insanely quickly
Reading this article now, you might feel like freshers’ week has been creeping up so slowly that you can barely contain yourself. Just you wait until it’s three years down the line and you’re posing for your graduation photo, wondering how on earth all of that time just went so quickly. They say time flies when you’re having fun, and that goes some way towards explaining why uni will seem to be over in the wink of an eye. You’ll have to get used to it, because time’s passage only gets even speedier from then on.
16. Being judged for being a student
One of the few annoying parts about living in a uni city is how easily identifiable, and how quickly judged, you’ll be as a student. While it’s somewhat justifiable to hate students as a whole for the select group of idiots who are loud and eager for brawls after a night out on the town, locals and elderly citizens of the area do often seem to have an irrational and blanket distaste for the entire student population. Don’t be surprised if you receive looks of hatred for pretty much no reason, but don’t let it get to you, either.
17. Being poor
The old cliché of being a poor student does, unfortunately, very much hold true when you’re living from student loan to student loan. While you’ll get a load of discounts and (unless you’re in London) drinks will be pretty cheap wherever you go, you’ll still have to get used to worrying about making ends meet as term drags on and your last loan payment starts to dwindle. While you’ll be poor in pocket, you’ll at least be rich in friends, so it isn’t all bad.