Saturday, 23 May 2015

Looking Back | My University Experience

Today I submitted my last ever undergraduate assignment. After weeks of being cooped up behind my laptop, turning down social gatherings to work on essays and spending my evenings either at the gym or walking my dogs, it feels surreal to actually be finished. I don't know what do do with myself! I thought handing it in would make me feel instantly ecstatic - and of course, I am so incredibly pleased that it's done - but I actually just felt tired. I wanted to curl up in a little ball and sleep for one hundred years. I think it's just a release of all my worries and woes and it feels so strange that my university experience is over. That's three whole years complete - and they've gone past in a blink of an eye.

I was always so excited to go to university. I always knew I wanted to go to Cardiff University to study journalism and I worked hard to get there. I got A*AB in my A Levels and was accepted at Cardiff and I honestly couldn't wait for the experience to begin! I had visions of myself living in a little flat overlooking the city and working on assignments late into the night. I went home shopping with my mum and my family bought me lovely gifts to put in my bedroom, and as the summer drew to  close it was time to head off. My student life couldn't have been any different to my expectations.

I still vividly remember the day my mum dropped me off at halls. We set up my bedroom, went food shopping and for a nice meal and then my mum drove off sobbing and I went to meet my flat mates. We all got dressed up for our first night of Freshers and headed to Glam with the flat next door and some other friends. I instantly fell in love with the Cardiff night life and was excited for the years ahead. However, that weekend I decided to head home for the day to see my family and boyfriend. I only live an hour away from Cardiff and I thought that going home for a quick break would be a good idea. In reality, it was such a huge mistake. I went back to Cardiff that night and whilst we were partying in the Student's Union all I wanted to do was be home in familiar surroundings. I remember having a sudden, strange feeling in the pit of my stomach and I felt like I was going to either burst into tears or throw up. I think that short visit back home was what kicked off my terrible homesickness. 

The first few weeks of university were strange. I could see everyone adjusting to this new student lifestyle and I hated it. I remember walking into town one day to meet my auntie and cousins who had come to Cardiff for a day of shopping and then leaving them and crying all the way back to halls. Another time I remember ringing every member of my family begging them to pick me up because I wanted to leave so badly. I would go to lectures and come home feeling sick with dread. I would live for nights out where I would be able to block out the homesickness, but the next day I would be so hungover and would miss home even more. I counted down the hours, minutes and seconds to the weekend when I could escape and go home, but my family persuaded me to stay until Christmas time and if I really wanted to leave after the first term I could.

January came and I worked hard for my exams. I'm no quitter and as I really enjoyed my course I gave the exams my all and came out with high 2:1 and a first! I think this was a turning point and I realised that maybe I was meant to be there. While I didn't get on with my flatmates - firstly because they left the kitchen like a bombsight and secondly because they didn't understand why I wanted to go home all the time - I made good friends from the flat next door and my course and I kept busy by going to the gym and the library to study and eventually first year came to an end and I finished with a high 2:1!

The second year was pretty much the same. I moved into a house of six girls and instantly realised this was a huge mistake. I'm quite a lonesome person and generally like my own company. My father also works abroad so most of the time it's just my mum, brother and I in the house so moving into a house with five completely different people with different ways of living was a huge shock. Team that with the fact that my mum is the biggest clean freak you will ever meet and the girls just didn't mind living in a complete mess and you'll understand my predicament. Nevertheless I plodded on, still living for the weekends, and continued to work hard and to develop more friendships with the people on my course. I was so lucky to be studying a course that I really liked. 

While my homesickness wasn't as bad in the second year, it was still very much present. A lot of the time I felt lonely and I couldn't wait for the term to be over. I moved out at Easter to be back home and out of my tiny, pokey room in a small house filled with mess and too many people. After a rocky start in second year I pulled up my grades and felt like this reaffirmed my love for journalism. I also felt like all the drama in the second year of uni really made me a stronger person. I was no longer an unconfident wimp and I started to stand up for myself and to take more opportunities thrown my way. 

I vowed that the third year would be different and it really was. I moved in with two of my friends form home into a cute little house and loved it! Admittedly I still came home most weekends but I was generally calmer, happier and for the first time in three years I felt content. I worked hard on my assignments, grew closer to people on my course, spent time with friends and just generally didn't feel that overwhelming need to be home with my family. I think I really grew up in the last year and I started to really love university. I thoroughly enjoyed my chosen modules and looked forward to lectures, I felt motivated to work hard and I made some amazing, hilarious memories on nights out with friends who I hope I will always stay in contact with. It's really made the whole experience worthwhile.

I guess the reason I felt such an urge to write about my experience is because I am sure there are lots of young people in the same predicament as me, who feel homesick and find it difficult to adjust to such a different lifestyle. People look at university life through tainted vision and, while most people absolutely love it, there are a lot of people out there who struggle. It also didn't help at the fact that people looked down on me for wanting to be home all of the time. My flatmates would be baffled when they saw me with my suitcase ready to catch the train home again, people in my hometown would see me and say 'oh you're home again, then?' and people found it so weird that I just found it so difficult. I want to tell people who are struggling that it's okay. Everyone is different and you really will get through it. I would encourage those with a love for the subject they are studying to stick to it because it will really be worth it in the end!

I often felt I had 'wasted' my time at uni. I had such high expectations and for the most part I just wanted to run away. However, writing this post has made me realise that my uni experience was worthwhile and has taught me so much. I've become confident and am willing to take on any opportunities. I've met an amazing group of people who I will never forget. It's made me a stronger, independent person who feels motivated and inspired to be the best person I can be. I will also have a  degree in journalism, which is a subject I truly love and something I have always dreamed of!

Now that my whole degree is complete I'm really excited to see what will happen in the next three years! I have secured myself a place on a MA Magazine Journalism course that I have wanted to do since I started university, so will be staying in Cardiff for another year come September. From there I dream of working in fashion and beauty journalism and would love to go to London to work - even if it's only for a short time. I know this is odd for someone who has been so homesick but I feel really determined to take any opportunity that life throws at me. I will always return to my little hometown, but uni has taught me that I can do these things I've always dreamed of and that I'm not as much of a scaredy-cat as I thought I was!

Here's to the next chapter!
Lots of love, 
Jessie. xoxo

38 comments:

  1. Aw this is so nice! First congrats on finishing - thats so exciting! I know what you mean about homesickness, I get it a lot moving around all over the place. I think uni is such an odd experience, I lived at home for 2 of my years of uni and spent a lot of time working so I kind of felt like I missed on having the proper uni experience in that sense! xx

    Jasmin Charlotte

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    1. Thank you so much Jasmin :) It is a strange experience indeed! I feel like a lot of people put pressure on you to absolutely love it but that's not the case for everyone sadly. xx

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  2. Congratulations on finishing! Although you feel tired now, the relief will kick in I'm sure. I believe that every university experience is valuable. Like you, I felt a bit like mine had been wasted, but when we actually look back, perhaps we have learnt more than we would have if we had had a "typical" experience. Thank you for sharing! Good luck in your MA, it sounds fabulous.

    Suitcase and Sandals Blog XX

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    1. Thank you Hannah : ) the relief has definitely set in now! I feel amazing haha :D and thanks for your lovely comment - it means the world! xx

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  3. This is so beautifully written! I think it's important to for other people to know that everyone's Uni experience can be so different. Unlike you, I didn't get homesick. In fact, I loved the freedom and time away from home. But, I was (and still am) very much a lonesome person too. So, I sometimes found it hard to connect with people and just wanted to be on my own as well. I find that 3rd year is usually the year where you feel most settled. In 1st year, you really haven't a clue what to do! Then in 2nd year, you tend to live with your housemates from 1st year. Then, 3rd year- things just fall into place.
    Well done on finishing! And a huge congrats for the MA course lovely :)
    xxx
    Tasmin | Grandiose Days

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    1. This comment really made my day - thank you so much!! Third year was definitely the time when I felt fine at university.. the rest was a bit of a mess I think haha! Thank you Tasmin : ) xxx

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  4. Aww this is such a lovely post hun, I never went to Uni but I love that I feel I can relive it via you :) Such a huge achievement and a beautifully well written post :)

    Elle
    www.theellenextdoor.com
    xx

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    1. What a lovely thing to say :) thank you so much Elle. xxx

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  5. Good luck with the journalism course! I've also just finished my three year course and I'm so glad for it to be finished, while I have enjoyed it, it's been really hard work with lots of issues along the way! x

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    1. Ahh congratulations to you too Albertine! :) and good luck for the future xx

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  6. Your dissertation looks so interesting! I really want to read it haha.

    I think we both had very similar experiences, I really did like uni but more than anything I just wanted to be back home - I belong with my home comforts and calm, introvert lifestyle haha. I also lived with 5 other different girls in second year and...well, a new drama every week haha! I'm glad you had such an amazing third year (I did too and lived with two people...honestly think we had the exact same uni life haha!) and you get to look back on uni positively :)

    onwards and upwards my lovely, you're going to have an amazing future! :)

    Hazel xx

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    1. Oh god it's the bane of my life haha! Thank you though :) I can't believe how similar our experiences were. I can totally relate with the second year drama haha - but at least we've come through the other side having learned a lot and with an experience to be proud of. Thank you so much xxx

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  7. I really enjoyed reading this post Jessie. It's such a life-changing experience going to university! I decided to live at home and commute in to uni for the whole three years as luckily it was only a 45 minute journey and I'm actually really glad I did. Some of my friends moved in together and I had chance to do so as well, but I'm now very glad that I chose not to as like you I'm an intovert and from a neat freak mother haha! When I graduate I'm going to write a similar post to you. I just want the graduation ceremony to go in it as well so that's why I'm holding off! You've really inspired to me to get started on it.
    Thanks!
    Rebecca | The Two Twenty Somethings
    Xx

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    1. Aw thank you Rebecca :) that's so kind of you. I think I probably would have lived at home too - I just hated house sharing. It was a bad experience for me. Congratulations on finishing university too! I will definitely be blogging about graduation and I'm really excited for it! xxx

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  8. i'm glad you preferred your 3rd year, I don't know whether im planning on going to uni or not yet x
    Hannah | Heyitshannaah

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    1. Thanks Hannah :) ahh you have plenty of time to decide! And you can do it at any time, it doesn't have to be as soon as you finish school/college. xx

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  9. I hope your next three years are wonderful! I struggled too, especially in first year as I didn't really like my flatmates but in the second and third year I've made amazing friends, one of which is now my boyfriend and I couldn't be happier. I've just finished like you but I'm scared of what's next, job hunting ahh!! Great post, I like reading other people's experiences of university, everyone's story is so different but like you said, it is okay to find it difficult

    http://laurenslittleblogs.blogspot.co.uk/
    xx

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    1. Thank you Lauren :) I'm so glad you enjoyed your uni experience too! It's a strange feeling to be finished isn't it? The best of luck with whatever you do and thanks for your lovely comment. xx

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  10. Congrats on finishing uni! I just finished as well - I kind of get the homesickness, I had it really badly for the first few months in first year, but luckily I end up settling in well and it faded. It's really good that you enjoyed your course as much as you did as well, I didn't really enjoy mine, especially this year, there wasn't really any part of it that I enjoyed! And well done for securing a place on the MA course, good luck and I hope you enjoy it!

    The Velvet Black // UK Style & Beauty Blog

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    1. Thanks Alice :) congratulations to you too lovely! Such a relief isn't it?! Aw no that is a shame - I was really lucky to enjoy it otherwise I would have left I'm sure haha. Thank you very much :) good luck with everything you do in the future! xx

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  11. I ended up staying at home whilst attending University. I think I was quite lucky that I had the chance to do that. I knew I would get homesick, and I didn't want the extra costs of staying on campus when I could get there quite easily.

    Congratulations on completing uni! It's nice to hear that you enjoyed it! xx

    Want to support each other on GFC/Bloglovin?

    Here's my blog - Blog With Laura

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    1. If I had known I would only be in for two days a week this year I would have done as well. Wasted so much money on housing haha! Thank you Laura : ) xx

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  12. congratulations!
    I hope you get everything you wish for

    http://girlynote.blogspot.com/

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  13. Congratulations on finishing and being accepted onto your Masters course - I'm sure you'll do very well and well done for battling on through the homesickness. I quit uni after my first year (and I stayed at home!) so I applaud you for sticking with it! xx

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    1. Thank you so much Vicky! I really do hope so! xx

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  14. Congratulations on finishing university! It's such a difficult time in someones life but everyone experiences this differently. I'm glad that you're happier now and that things are looking up for you, I'm so happy for you sweetie! :)

    Sarah xo || See The Stars

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    1. Thanks so much hun :) It is difficult, and a lot more for some than others.. Thank you Sarah, that means so much :) xx

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  15. Congratulations on finishing uni! I have just finished my undergrad too and start my Masters in September - it's so scary isn't it! University is so different for everyone but it is fantastic that you've pulled through and found that you love it! Good luck with your Masters - I'm sure you'll be fantastic!

    Rachael at broomfie.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you Rachael and congrats to you too! :) I bet you feel so good now. What are you doing a masters in? Thanks lovely, and the same to you! xx

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  16. congrat !! :)

    http://allornothing-blog.blogspot.co.uk/

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  17. Congratulations! I'm so glad you stuck with it, even when it seemed tough - those moments make you the person you will become! This is such an exciting time now, although it seems daunting to not be in education anymore, you have a chance to try out so many different things. I can't believe I graduated 3 years ago!! Where does the time go? Sophie xx
    www.fashionnomads.com

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  18. It's so calming to know others don't always have the picture perfect experience! I felt so misunderstood throughout uni - having very little in common with the people I knew and have literally just finished too and have never felt happier to be away from it all. On the plus side, I smashed out the work and fingers crossed will come away with a first! I just feel sad that I didn't make the lifelong friends everyone promises you will!

    Georgina
    foxonthehunt.com

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  19. So excited for you! Really hope you get to be a fashion journalist! Best of luck!! xx

    xo, mikéla / simplydavelyn.com

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  20. this was so interesting to read, I'm so glad the uni worked out for you in the end and congrats on handing in your last assignment! make sure you have a nice break before you start your MA! love you blog by the way! LV x

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  21. Congrats on everything! I've just finished my second year doing Journalism at Portsmouth Uni, I'm loving it! Now to start on my dissertation...

    Kimberley xx

    thecolourchronicles.wordpress.com

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  22. Congratulations!

    I know what you mean: I had horrible, messy, bitchy and rude flatmates/housemates and friends so I know the feeling!

    Chichi
    chichi-writes.blogspot.co.uk

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