To those finishing first year concerned they’ve not done enough, don’t worry, the feeling’s mutual.
Remember when you were prepping for Uni and everyone consoled you by assuring you ‘first year is a breeze’? Either they were part of a minority who were incredibly self-motivated and had their life together far too young, did a rather cushy degree, or are lying. They’re part of the same cocky A-Level crowd who trill ‘GCSEs are so easy’ and roll their eyes at the year 11s manically revising for 11 (or more) subjects when they managed to get all A*s and As by ‘just turning up’. They weren’t easy at the time, remember that. Everything’s dandy in hindsight. And it turns out, for the majority of us, first year is actually quite tough.
Firstly, academics. The learning format is new, and daunting. You have to get yourself up in the morning and decide whether your attendance is necessary, or even possible, that day. First year logic; it’s better to not go, then to turn up late. Spare yourself that embarrassment. Bed feeling especially comfy today? Can’t go. Raining? Can’t go. No clean underwear? Can’t go. Can’t get into ArtsOne? Can’t go. Waiting for an Asos order? Can’t go. Got Netflix? Can’t go. Module is on QReview? Not necessary. Seminar on lecture you didn’t attend anyway? Not necessary. Vaguely covered that topic in A Level? Not necessary. Not only that, but if you’re one of the unfortunates who landed a monotone lecturer, you’ve got the tricky task of staying awake, or at least appearing to be*. The workload is pretty hefty, and relies on a lot of pre-reading and preparation. And let’s not forget referencing, which takes longer than writing an essay most of the time.
And who has time to do pre-reading and meet multiple weekly deadlines when you’re so busy having fun? Because admit it, if you don’t look like you’re having fun or are recovering from fun then you’re doing something wrong. First year is the best year because ‘grades don’t matter’so you have all that free time to throw ‘crazy flat parties’**. You must document your fun escapades on social media otherwise you might as well not have bothered. Snapchat stories of strobe lights and a crowd of people jumping up and down is a must. Snaps of exotic themed warehouse parties in Hackney give you bonus points. Day activities should include: vintage shopping on Brick Lane, Camden market, Boris-biking around Victoria Park, East End Thrift shop and a token trip to Oxford Street (must moan about tourists the entire time). All of the above to be catalogued on Instagram.
The truth is it isn’t fun 100% of the time. Getting behind on work, spending days without going outside, sleeping too much, sitting in a bombshell of a room, not doing your washing in far too long, insisting on not going home and ending up missing your family, not making as many friends as you expected, not getting along with your flatmates, missing your friends from home, not wanting to go out and feeling like a bad fresher, being lonely. These are all things most first years will
experience at some point. They make you human.
So don’t be concerned you didn’t make the most out of first year. Getting to university is an achievement in itself, so be proud you’ve made it through and come out having learnt a hell of a lot along the way; about yourself and others. You might not have had the crazy fresher experience you expected, but is that really what you wanted anyway? Fun comes in many forms, not just in getting drunk. Failing isn’t ‘impossible’, it can happen, but it doesn’t mean you’ve failed at university all together. For most people it’s only at the end of the year that you realise doing work at the library can actually be fun. You can have nice chats with your friends and eat feasts before settling down to do your work. First year is the time to make these mistakes and learn what is important to you.
Remember there’s nothing wrong with enjoying your own company, too.
*Helpful hint: use video clips/board explanations in lectures as opportunities for mini-naps
**Helpful hint 2: You don’t have to throw a flat party to be cool, because they are all lame and if they start being fun they get shut down. Find a second year with a house instead.