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6 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting University

Having just finished second year, I’m now officially half-way through university – where has the time gone? My first two years of studying have been the most exciting, but also a couple of the most challenging years of my life. I’ve learned a lot, not least academically, but I’ve learned some life lessons as well. While I was expected endless reading lists and to gain some independence, there were some things that never even crossed my mind until I arrived. So, I thought I’d compile a list of the things I wish I’d known before starting university (and this is only a few of them).

Being an adult is expensive

As soon as I moved out and was left to stand on my own two feet I realized something: being an adult is expensive. I’ll admit, as a fresher I went a little spend-crazy. My student loan came in and my naive self thought shopping sprees and going out every night was a smart idea. That’s all fun and games until it dawns on you that taxis, weekly shops, and bills, unfortunately, aren’t optional and there’s no such thing as an unlimited supply of toilet roll. You’ll want to be saving the pennies every chance you can get. Second year came around and I learned that setting myself a budget is essential. Parting with that £90 for the monthly utility bill is heartbreaking, but hey, no-one said adult life was going to be smooth sailing.

You don’t have to go out every night

Sorry, what? I can hear undergraduates from far and wide questioning how a fellow student can say such a thing. Uni culture is all about the nights out, the triple vodka shots on a Wednesday night and the 4 am chicken strips and cheesy chips. But, it can get a bit much. I love a good night out as much as the next person, but there comes a point where 8-day benders aren’t viable.

My whole first semester of first year was solely based around being out every night and then suffering the following day. I couldn’t concentrate in lectures, I felt like crap 24/7 and in all honesty, I didn’t enjoy half of the nights anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t become some stay at home crazy cat lady. However, I’ve come to the realisation that there’s no point in forcing myself in environments I don’t enjoy. I just wish I came to this realization sooner to save myself from the seemingly endless fresher’s flu.

You will meet a lot of people

Freshers week: you’ll meet flat-mates, introduce yourself to course-mates, become best friends with some girl in a club’s toilets, but inevitably forget all of their names by the end of the week. I go to a fairly big uni so this was expected, but it was overwhelming how many times I was asked ‘What’s your name?’ and, ‘What are you studying?’.

You’re not going to find your best friends right away, and you’ll probably never see that group of people you belted out ABBA with last night ever again. However, as the months go by you learn who your friends are and that’s when uni is 10x better.

You need to work hard

Of course, I knew it would be difficult, it’s university after all. I just didn’t think it would be exhausting, head-pounding, up-at-3am-pulling-my-hair-out difficult.

We all know those people who could be out every night, never seem to attend any lectures, yet miraculously still ace all of their deadlines. Well, I’m not one of those people. During first year, I made every undergraduate’s irrevocable mistake of leaving deadlines until the last minute. Let me tell you, no one wants to be stringing together bibliographies and writing essays on Charles Dickens past midnight. But, you live and you learn: leaving it until the night before will never work in my favour.

If you want to get the higher marks at university you need to put the work in. Second-year commenced and I finally got my act together. A routine is a must during university; setting out a plan for all deadlines, reading and drafting all at least two weeks before.

Ultimately, nothing can really prepare you for the jump between A Levels and a degree. I’m sorry.

Just speak up

If like me you happen to study a humanities subject, you’ll more than likely undergo the torture that is a seminar in which no one wishes to speak. The seminar leader tries to spark up an analytical debate and ease out some response. However, the awkward silence prevails, students staring intently at their laps, laptops or zone out into space.

Just. Say. Anything. Studying English, we were expected to have read a book a week, so of course, there were weeks when I hadn’t read everything. But, opinions are subjective, there’s no right or wrong. Whenever I spoke up I would hear a faint sigh of relief from the 7 other students in the room, the awkwardness momentarily vanishing. Ultimately, you’re going to get more out of the hour of hell by contributing than staring outside thinking about what you’re going to have for dinner when you get in (although food is on the mind 24/7 tbh).

Home will seem like heaven

You move out and the freedom of living alone and being independent is exciting. However, after a couple of months, you crave nothing more than a homemade Sunday roast and a quiet night in watching some Chanel 4 documentary with the family. While I love my own space and having the freedom to cook my own meals, I missed the home comforts. Cooking every day becomes a chore and the washing up pile mounts in the corner of the room – Kim and Aggie would have a field day. University has made me a little more grateful for how much my parents actually do for me.

Is there anything you wish you had known before starting university? 

Hopefully I’ll head into my fourth year after my year abroad a bit more prepared for what’s to come. Nonetheless, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and have found it somewhat relatable/useful!

Until the next post,

Evie x.

90 Comments

  1. Great post! I definitely agree that cooking becomes a chore!

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Thank you! I love cooking, but sometimes I just can’t be bothered haha

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      It really is!

  2. I’m about to start uni so I’m going to bookmark this post and get back to you in December about my first term experience. I already know I’ll be bored of going out, I have to be in a certain mood to go out out, definitely couldn’t do it every day or week. As for budgeting, call me the saving queen because I love saving, I get high off seeing a healthy savings account hopefully I don’t stop this at uni

    Fran | http://www.franciscarockey.co.uk

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Ah yay, please do! It sounds like you’re prepared for university already, I wish I had saved more during my first year. Uni is such an amazing experience, I hope you have the best time!

  3. LOVED this. Knowing that you don’t have to go out every night was definitely a big one I learnt in first year.
    Jas xx

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Thank you! Yeah definitely, some of the best nights are the quiet ones with some friends anyway! x

  4. I have never related to a blog post so much in all of my life – the money disappearing, the night outs and especially the last minute essay writing. I once wrote two two-thousand word essays in one day and it was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made. I wish I’d had this post before I started. 😂

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Haha I feel like it’s something a lot of students go through, but 2 two-thousand essays? God I wouldn’t have slept! Haha I just hope some people find this post useful so they don’t go through the same struggle. Thanks for reading 💖

  5. Being an adult is so expensive and even though I didn’t go to Uni I moved out at 16 and wow it hit me like a ton of bricks!
    Some really good tips for someone starting out though, its definitely not all nights out and shopping trips.

    Heather | x Highland Beauty

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yeah it’s a learning experience for sure! Thank you so much, hopefully some people find it useful! Thanks for reading 😊

  6. This is such a helpful post. I wish I’d have read that before i went to uni years ago!
    Rosie

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Thank you! Same, hopefully others find it useful! x

  7. Love this! I wish I knew all these things too… then I wouldn’t have been so stressed. Great read ☺️

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Thank you! Yeah it would have made uni a lot easier haha, but I’m hoping that it helps others from making the same mistakes. 🙋‍♀️

  8. I completely agree! Going to college has made me realize that I need to be more responsible, it’s also made me really assess how hard I work and what I need to do to succeed

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yeah responsibility is a big one, having to learn how to manage time effectively and look after yourself can be quite overwhelming at first. And yeah definitely, if you want to achieve something, you have to put the work in! Thanks for reading x

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Thank you!

  9. Sophie's Thoughts Sophie's Thoughts

    The ‘being an adult is expensive’ is so true! I remember when I first went to uni and did a food shop for the first time, I couldn’t get over how much cheese cost?! haha!

    Great post x

    https://sophiesthoughts3.wordpress.com/

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Oh my god yess haha, that came as a shock to me too, and little things like laundry detergent 😂 haha thank you!

  10. This is great, you don’t understand how much I relate to this whole post! I struggle with the worst FOMO ever, so it has been a big learning process to realize that going out every single night isn’t the b-all and end all! And let’s not get started on money!

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Thank you so much! Ah that was my problem too, I didn’t want to miss out on anything, especially if so many people were going! But something a quiet night in is much needed. Thanks for reading x

  11. abbiejadewanders abbiejadewanders

    Being an adult is super expensive and you definitely don’t have to go out every night!

    abbiejadewanders.co.uk

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yeah they were two of the things which dawned on me the most! Thanks for reading x

  12. I didn’t actually move out for uni and I ended up dropping out in second year but I can resonate with a few of these. I barely remember the names of half the people I met, let alone anything else! And I worked my absolute ass off throughout the time I was there but it still wasn’t enough. I barely speak to anyone I met there sadly, I wish I’d known that it’s okay not to meet your “friends for life” there as I had my heart set on it!
    Alice Xx
    http://www.blacktulipbeauty.co.uk

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yeah university definitely isn’t for everyone. I won’t lie when I say I debated dropping out a few times, especially as the work intensified and the stress started to build. It’s good that you realised it wasn’t for you though, your own happiness is most important! Thanks for reading x

  13. It’s been so long since I’ve been there, like 20 years but it was super awesome to read and I hope that one day when my kids get there they will see the things you see and learn what you have learnt ❤️

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Thank you so much! I hope others find it helpful – it’s a learning experience after all! Thanks for reading x

  14. Yes it can be expensive! I am filling my boys in on College life right now. My oldest will be a Junior in High School. I tell them often you will have to WORK! Good luck and wish you much success!!

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Thank you so much! Ah I hope he enjoys it, but yes definitely! You need to put the work in if you want to achieve!

  15. Julia Julia

    Being an adult has definitely shown itself as something expensive, especially since I’m a student in London! With meeting so many people too it means although you won’t see half the people again, it’s easier to avoid people you don’t get on with and have a more positive time than it is in school! Great post x

    http://www.beesytimes.co.uk

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Oh I can imagine! Yeah 100%. Life’s what you make it at university, and now I choose to only surround myself with positive people and do what makes me happy. Thank you! x

  16. I only have one semester left of University and I can attest that these things are completly true. Love the information you gave.

    Maya @ http://www.poweredcrowd.com

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Ah how exciting! Thank you so much!

  17. I’ve just finished second year too. I can’t relate with the moving out situations but I already buy all my own stuff pretty much so hopefully that’ll come in handy when I do. Uni is such a weird place for friendships, I’ve only just found out who my true friends are over the last few months and ditched a few people that weren’t encouraging me to do better things with my life. Truthfully, I rarely go out. The thought of blowing so much money on alcohol just disturbs me haha. But the odd night out every now and then doesn’t go a miss. Great post!

    Luce xo

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yes that will definitely come in handy! I couldn’t agree more, I’m the same in terms of friendships – I was spending time with people who didn’t really bring the best out in me and have finally realised who my true friends are. Haha I don’t blame you really, I regret spending so much money, it wasn’t worth it! Thank you! x

  18. I am so nervous to leave an go to college! I have one more year as a high school student. This post helped me to feel a whole lot better.

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yay I’m so hapy you found it useful. University/college is such an amazing experience and you’ll learn so much about yourself. Good luck! x

  19. Some of these don’t quite apply to me as I still live with my parents but I understand most of it haha I just started uni this summer semester and even though I only took one class I can already tell this is gonna be a looot of work. Well, a lot since I want good grades and I want to actually learn the shit that I paid for lol still struggling with starting up discussion though because the tense silence is unreal!

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yeah you need to put the work in if you want to do well! Ah I know right, the silence is so awkward sometimes, I can’t bare it haha. Thanks for reading!

  20. Quwrites Quwrites

    I wish I could start uni all over again after reading this haha

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Haha it’s such an amazing experience!

  21. l really liked this one…keep up😍

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Thank you! x

  22. This is so true! I haven’t read such a relatable post in ages! I’m going into my third year and I definitely wish I’d read this post before starting uni!

    Nati x | http://www.curatedbynati.com | @curatedbynati

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Ah thank you so much! I just hope others find it helpful so they avoid making some of the same mistakes! Thanks for reading x

  23. BethRebecca BethRebecca

    I agree on everything here! You don’t realise just how much money you’re going to spend at uni and I definitely had fomo for most of first year and never wanted to miss a night out. I’m finally realising that sometimes a night watching tv in bed is better than clubbing! x

    Beth x | https://bethrebecca.com/

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yeah exactly! Fomo was a big one for me as well, especially when there were so many people going to the same place. But I couldn’t agree more, I love myself a quiet night in! Thanks for reading x

  24. Great post, Evie! It was a pretty long time ago that I was at uni, but I definitely remember the endless nights out (and the terrible hangovers that followed!). I’ve been really enjoying your posts recently and so I’ve nominated you for The Mystery Blogger Award! There’s no pressure to do it, I just wanted to let you know that your blog is great! https://mybellyful.co.uk/2018/07/19/the-mystery-blogger-award/

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Thank you! Yeah it is definitely a struggle haha. Ah thank you so much I’ll make sure to check it out! X

  25. Big thing for me was how can expensive food is, and the fact that the fridge isn’t magically full like at home. “Where’s my money gone? Oh just on the weekly shop!”

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yess, I found things like cheese and laundry detergent so expensive at first, parting with the money is such a struggle haha. Thanks for reading! x

  26. I think that this is such an important post and I definitely wish it had been around before I started a few years ago! Being an adult is expensive is just a great life lesson too and something which isn’t discussed with teens enough before they have to go it alone!
    Soph – https://sophhearts.com x

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yeah I wish there were more posts like this before I left for uni, but hopefully others will find this helpful! Thanks for reading x

  27. I only went on a night out once 😂 University is cheaper if dont go out shop at cheap stores 😂 I dont understand how so many students drink out and get take aways everynight 😱 like you I wish I knew how much work it would be 😱 I thought it would be easy but I was wrong 😂
    Abi xx
    https://simple-joys.blog

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Haha I was one of them students during my first year and looking back, it wasn’t fun! Yeah it definitely comes as a shock haha, thanks for reading x

  28. I’m thinking of going to uni either this autumn or in 2019. Since I started working this summer, I’ve realized how easy is to spend money and I don’t need to spend it on daily groceries or bills. Now, imagine if I had to! That’s what it must feel at uni. Still, I love the fact that you meet a lot of people because I am a people person and love that. Great info, thanks 🙂

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yeah! At first I was spending money on everything, treating myself to new clothes way too often. Having a budget is really helpful though. Ah you’ll really enjoy it! Thanks for reading x

  29. Yeah uni hangovers were the worst so I totally agree when you say that you don’t have to go out every night. There’s so much pressure to join in with that sort of thing and sometimes you just need a night or two to recover. I can also remember those seminars when no-one wants to say anything. I did photography at university and so we also used to have to make critical comments on each others work and sometimes the silence was deafening! Good on you for speaking up!!

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yeah the odd night is fun but I never gave myself the chance to recover – I think I was ill for like 6 months straight haha. Ah it’s the worst right? Thank you!

  30. El El

    I absolutely dislike how expensive adult life is, but what can you do, am I right?! 🙁
    Fab post xx

    Elize @ YouTube Channel

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yeah it’s something we have to accept I guess haha! Thank you x

  31. This is a great post! I never went to uni but I moved out pretty early than most and it really makes you grow up! Living on your own is so expensive so I bet doing it at uni is the same! X

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Thank you! Yeah it definitely came as a shock but exactly, you learn independence and budgeting is something I can’t live without doing now! X

  32. OMG so true! Home did feel like heaven each time I got back! Actual food! So much work uni… gosh.. and yeah going out is fun once or twice but not too often aah!

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Haha yess home is such a luxury. Thanks for reading! X

  33. This is really interesting to read Evie! I did my degree through the Open Uni so the nights out and social side was never an option. Although I doubt I would have got my degree if partying was an option for me 🙈😂. I also agree, being an adult is so expensive! Great post girl 💖 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      That’s great! Haha going out so much did hinder the studying side of things a little during my first year, but you live and you learn! Thank you! 💖

  34. trousseaudiaries trousseaudiaries

    Informative and honest post! Adulting isn’t easy lol!

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Thank you! It really isn’t haha

  35. These are valuable things to know before going to university. I can’t believe how expensive things can get! AND YES! You don’t have to go out every night. You have the rest of adulthood to go out at night once in a while. Oh man, I remember those vodka shots, haha. YES on needing to work hard. Don’t expect a handout in university. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yeah it definitely all comes as a shock! Haha, hangovers are never fun. Thanks for reading! X

  36. This is so true! Thanks for sharing this post and I love your photos!! Xo

  37. I really wish someone had told me how small the social scene was going to be at my uni – i was really disappointed with it and i didn’t make a single friend from my uni course over three years! Coming from Newcastle where the parties were 24/7 it was a big change! (I went to a uni just outside of london) although watching a channel four documentary with the fam is always good! x

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Ah that’s such a shame, but tbh, I’ve found it difficult to make friends with coursemates, especially when I have such little contact hours with them! Yeah I can imagine! Haha, thanks for reading x

      • Right! I think that was my thing too. I had friends on other courses because we all seemed to be in the library at the same time and things like that! x

  38. Loved this post, and although off topic, I need to mention that I love the desk picture. It’s inspired me to renovate my working space*

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Haha thank you! Glad to hear! x

  39. Great post, and very timely! Definitely wasn’t prepared for how difficult life would be at uni.

  40. I’ve just gradated uni but I didn’t move away from home and I’ve no interest at all in going out or drinking- its literally my idea of hell haha! I’m hoping to progress on to a masters this year and I’ll still be staying at home; its waaaay too expensive to move out, especially as I’m trying to set up my own business and need to save as much money as I can lol I completely agree with people needing to speak up though, I’ve been in so many lectures and lessons where no one will engage with the tutors and its so awkward!xx

    Jade | jademarie.co.uk

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Oh how exciting! Yeah I’d say staying at home is definitely a great option, especially if you can commute! Budgeting has been a life-saver over the past year for me. Ah I know right? It’s unbearable sometimes! Thanks for reading x

  41. Great post! I’m starting uni in September so this is helpful for me. I’ve had two gap years though, and have lived abroad so I guess have already had that experience of independence and living away from home! xx
    Alys
    https://alysjournals.com

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Ah how exciting! Yeah it’s great that you already have the experience of living alone, hopefully you’ll avoid a few of the mistakes I made haha. I hope you have the best time at uni, thanks for reading! X

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      You’ll have the best time! Thanks for reading x

  42. One of the first things I learned in college (the second day I was there) is that homesickness happens. I felt much better when I did and got through it fast!

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Yeah it’s so easy to miss home when we’re in unfamiliar environments! It’s great that you got through it! Thanks for reading 🌠

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