I came to the University of Gloucestershire two years ago and now I embark on my final year here in Cheltenham. The strange thing is, it has gone so unbelievably quick that I honestly don’t know how all of this has happened. But here I am, still trying to adult.
Now that I’ve been a student for a while, I thought it may be useful for those who are undecided about going to uni for me to give an insight into what it’s really like. There are a lot of myths when it comes to student life (does anyone actually just live off beans on toast?) So I’m writing this to give you the reality of being a student.
*These things will differ from uni to uni, so please take into account that these are my personal experiences.*
I’m an English Language and Creative Writing student, which falls under the ‘humanities’ subject area. Now, at my university, this does mean that there aren’t an awful lot of contact hours with lecturers. This could be seen as either a good thing, or a bad thing.
In first year, I had about 12 hours a week, second year I had about 8 and this year I have 6. Yes, just 6.
To those who study law or business or science, this may seem ridiculous; these subjects tend to spend full days at university plus extra study time. But this is because these courses just have more content than mine does.
My subject requires a lot of outside work; the more reading I do, the better. I also have to spend quite a lot of my time creating – coming up with plots, narratives and characters. So the fact I only have 6 hours a week actually in uni isn’t really much of an issue for me.
It would be unfair for me to make assumptions about all students when the size of a student loan varies so much. But what I can say is that it is normally fairly easy* for students to get a part-time or weekend job if extra money is needed. Therefore, it’s quite unlikely for anyone to desperately struggle to make ends meet.
Personally, I don’t know of anyone who can’t afford to go out for the odd meal or buy a piece of clothing every now and then. Yeah, sure, it’s not a lifestyle of luxury and you will have to save your pennies, but don’t get too stressed based on the assumption that all students are strapped for cash.
For me, I have budgeted my money for a weekly food shop plus a bit extra for socialising. (£10 is enough for a night out here!)
But of course, when it comes to finances, every student has a different situation. As long as you’re sensible, you’ll be okay. Think of your loan as an extra bill to pay when you graduate. Don’t think of it as ‘debt’. You only pay back a certain amount depending on your income.
*subject to location
One of the main things that I’ve found since coming to university is that my independence and confidence as an individual has grown massively. Coming from a tiny village in the middle of nowhere, I found the prospect of moving somewhere busy and lively really quite daunting.
It’s safe to say that I’ve adapted well (which isn’t always easy) and have enjoyed becoming a more confident human!
Independence means different things to different people – from cooking your own meals to remembering to buy mundane things such as loo roll or toothpaste. My life has changed so much by just living here; back home, I couldn’t just walk into town whenever I wanted to and it is this sense of freedom I love!
Fresher’s is the most popular week of the year, and not just for first years! It’s such a great opportunity to ‘throw yourself’ into things and let your hair down – there’re no curfews now!
If you’re not a fan of drinking or going out to clubs, don’t stress. All unis have events that don’t involve these things – my uni, for example, had film nights and sports activities.
As a shy, quiet eighteen-year-old, when I first came to uni I was terrified I wouldn’t make any friends. And yes, this is tricky if you’re like me and find it extremely difficult to make conversation with people you don’t know.
But I was pleasantly surprised.
People want to talk to you, to find out who you are and what you do and this makes engaging with people so much easier. You’ll find you get asked the same questions over and over: where do you come from? What are you studying? What halls are you living in? etc, etc… This makes it easier to ask those same questions back, and before you know it, you have a bunch of friends.
Don’t be fooled, however. Sometimes, it can take time to find your ‘group’. This isn’t a bad thing – everyone is still trying to ‘slot in’ somewhere.
Personally, I was lucky with my flatmates and we all instantly gelled. It was finding friends on my course that I found a little harder; I didn’t see them as much and because of this it was hard to get to know them. But before long, I found a group that took me on board (thanks guys) and now we’re all really close.
If it doesn’t happen straight away – hold out! It just takes time, be brave and get out there.
All in all, my life as a student is fab – I’ve learnt a hell of a lot, made life long friends and even met my boyfriend. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Are you thinking about going to uni? Ask your questions below!
Recommended read: 10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Starting University