Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Being a University Freshman

My first year at the University of Chester in pictures:

All packed up and ready to go.
My mum always says that when I left to go to University, she felt a stronger sense of loss than when I left to go travelling. She says it felt more permanent and real. I completely agree, when I went travelling, I always knew I'd be back, I mean I had the obvious fantasies of falling in love and never returning but realistically, I knew I'd be back - I had a place at University after all! But moving to Chester? Different. As far as my imagination goes, when University is over, I'm not moving back into my parents place, I'll be a fully grown adult expected to go be in my own place with my own all-grown-up, real-adult, full-time job - no wonder it felt so daunting!

Freshers Week.
I guess this is pretty obvious, but for some unknown reason, I hadn't thought about it until it was too late. Freshers Week is expensive. Like really expensive. I don't know about other people but my household and neighboring household went out EVERY SINGLE NIGHT (except the last night if I remember correctly), on top of that, we bought things for the house to make it our own, we had to buy food and explore our new home, so yeah, it really added up. Not an issue at the time because I still had some savings but it hit me a lot harder than I thought it would. Also, if you aren't the type of person to go out more than once in a week, or at all really, make an exception for Freshers Week. This is where you make your first friends and you meet tonnes of people and everyone is in a good mood. The atmosphere is a bit like a week long festival but with about 10 different locations. It's awesome, and you should make it your mission not to miss it. Even if you don't drink or usually party - go to this one.

The girls of 35 Cheyney Road
I don't really know how this happened, but one minute I was having my first shower in this strange new house and the strangers I had been put with were calling me to go to an introduction speech on campus and the next minute, these girls are my life and I would do anything for them. I guess I got extremely lucky, but for me, my housemates turned into the strongest friends I have made at Uni as of yet. So my advice to people who need it, hang out in the kitchen. (Everyone needs to eat at some point). Make friends with the people you live with but above all, learn to respect their individual personal space and boundaries. It makes life so much easier and in turn, way more fun!

The boys next door.
Something else that I don't know how or why it happened, but it became the habit of one of our next door neighbors to always end up passed out in our living room, even though he lived literally next door, where he had a perfectly good bed. But for whatever reason he had, I'm glad he did it as that and all the other shared antics between our two houses during freshers made us a team. Or, the Cheyney Road Family as I once icing-sugar-wrote on a brownie batch I made. But yeah, yet another reason to do Freshers Week to the fullest; it's a great way to get to know the people you live with really really fast.

This is a picture of me and Becky, when we had known each other less than a week.
I don't regret a thing.

Other people may have different stories, but starting my course seemed somewhat less fundamental to my future than freshers week. Although I got to know a lot more about my course and how University was going to be run and when my classes were and so on, I think the real aspects of University didn't kick in for me until after Christmas, when I finally decided I was happy to stay in the course I had started. (Except to change it a tiny bit and combine it with Tourism next year). For me, the first term was very un-stimulating academically but extremely awesome on the social side which caused a great deal of unhappiness for me around Christmas and the lead up to second term. However, I stuck with it, greatly down to my new friendship group I have to say, so thanks for that guys :) and now I've finished first year and am actually looking forward to the second!

I ended up not even going out that night.
 Another great bit of advice I can give you (haha I'm so smart) is to join a society. My father told me that when he started University, he signed up for so many societies that there weren't enough days in the week to fit them all in. I did something a little similar: I joined three. Snow Sports, Events and Pole Fitness. On top of that, I also joined the Wales University Officer Training Corp (WUOTC) which I'll talk about a bit later. My advice is to join several at the start, see how it goes and then pick one to stick with. For me, that one was Pole Fitness. It worked well as all of my house mates did it, I thoroughly enjoyed it and the socials were really good, but again, I think it wasn't until after Christmas that I decided which ones were worth sticking to. So give yourself time to explore your options thoroughly.

Polka dot night with the Snow Sports Society.

The Events Society's first meeting.
The Pole Fitness Societies' first social: Cops and Robbers.

The WUOTC's first social: Generations.
As part of my course, we were supposed to volunteer at an event before April 2014 came along, where we would have to write about it in an assignment and would get 0% if we made an event up. So around November I started looking for opportunities and during one of these interviews, I was offered an internship at a small company working at the Chester Business Park called Black Mango. They were a luxury events company and were currently working on Chester Arts Fair 2013 where I had intended to volunteer for my assignment. My only advice here is to 'stay awake'. These days it isn't enough just to have a degree, you need some form of experience as well, and if that means you have to work for free (like I did for the first 5 months and then for minimum intern rates, which are less than minimum wage) do it. It's worth it in the long run - Or so I am told... I guess we'll just have to wait and see!

Chester Arts Fair 2013.
As previously mentioned, I joined the WUOTC at the beginning of first year as well. I've never been a military person but when I saw them at the Freshers Fair (and heard that it paid you - not a lot but enough to get you curious) I thought I'd give another way of life a go and boy am I glad that I did. To tell you the truth, most of the time I hated it and wanted to quit, especially over Annual Camp but I didn't. I didn't quit because of the people. (...again, similar to not quitting University, ha I see a trend forming!). The girls that I met through the WUOTC were not military freaks as I had anticipated but Disney-singing, Shark-facing, legends. Even now, when I full well know that I wont have time for it next year, I can't bring myself to quit.

The Wrexham Ladies.
Through the WUOTC, I also met Duckie who has become my best male friend in Chester. We had planned to raise money for charity and hitch hike to Morocco in aid of a charity called Link: Community Development. We managed to raise around £200 before realizing that we really didn't have the time or money to hitch hike to Morocco "in aid of charity" when really we just wanted to go to Morocco and had no idea who that particular charity was. (I'm all up for raising money for charity but this didn't seem quite morally right). So we ditched that idea (the £200 still went to the charity of course) and decided to just go travelling together instead. We haven't managed that yet (money money money) but we're still talking about it! I'm sure I'll write about it on here when we do, so keep posted.

Duckie and I in our charity shirts.

 So yes, first year at the University of Chester has been a tremendous adventure, with it's fair shares of up's and down's, overall it's been a really good experience. I am now 20 years old, (Gosh I started this blog over 2 years ago!) sat in Amsterdam for the summer having finished my first year of University. How does that feel? Weird. My best friend Abigail lives in her own apartment, has her own rabbit and has been promoted in her full time job, my mother is learning Dutch and getting good at it, my father is in Romania for the week doing business, and my brother is still in Ireland doing artistic things way beyond my skill level. It's crazy where life has taken us all. Oh, and there is no way I could ever answer that "where will you be in 5 years" question correctly.

Me - 5 years ago (July 2009) doing my Duke of Edinburgh Bronze with Sadie.

So yeah, now I am just waiting for my friends to come and visit me so that the summer can really start ;)

Catch ya later,

Lucy xxo

1 comment: