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10 Things They Don't Tell You About University (List)


Three years seems like a long time. Yet, before you know it, you're walking across the graduation ceremony stage, confused and a bit lost about where all that time went. GRB blogger, Laura Ash, runs through the 10 things they don't tell you about university...

Before you even start, you know how uni works. Lots and lots of drinking, 'romantic' encounters in clubs, millions of friends, little responsibility, coffee, late nights at the library and then somehow – as if by magic – 3 years after you started, you graduate and the best years of your life are over. That's what they tell you; that's what you expect. But throughout your degree you may find yourself second guessing yourself, wondering whether you're 'doing uni' right, because if that's possible you're definitely doing it all wrong. Let me assure you: you're not doing it wrong. It's not because of you. It's because of what they don't tell you. So here are 10 things that you should have known before you started uni...

1. Don't take everything to uni

Universities employ some great photographers to make halls look large and spacious, but I remember rocking up to university with boxes under my legs and duvets over my head only to be greeted with a room even the Dudleys wouldn't let Harry Potter stay in. My advice: Take only the essentials and stock up as you go. You might find yourself sharing kitchen things with your flatmates and you will accumulate a lot of extra things by the end of the year.

2. You don't have to be friends with everyone

Freshers' week is a great opportunity to make friends but you may find yourself under pressure to make friends with everyone. You don't have to. If you don't find your best buddy or soulmate in your first week or year of uni, don't worry! You've got more years to keep building relationships. My advice: Just get yourself out there and meet new people.

3. You will be both rich and poor in the same month

Your student loan is both a blessing and a curse. So much money at one time is liberating and hard to resist. For this reason, you may start the week as a near millionaire, but by the end, countless takeaways and ASOS orders will leave you eagerly waiting for your next instalment (and living off rice and ketchup for 2 months). My advice: Have fun, but be smart. Save a little each week.

4. Not drinking is just as acceptable, maybe even more so, than drinking

Drinking seems to characterise a big part of university culture but if you don't want to drink, you should never feel pressured. You'll also find, contrary to popular belief, not every student wants to drink all day every day. My advice: Try a range of events at uni. Get involved in society socials, as they usually have non-drinking ones. Don't let alcohol be the reason you don't get out there!

5. Missing home is OK

Whilst uni is definitely a new start in your life and a step away from your parents' house, you don't have to completely abandon them. Having lunch with them when they drop you off is perfectly normal. You can still call them and not be disowned with your friends, and you are allowed to want to go home as much as you want. My advice: Remember the ones who are important to you and don't let 'having a good time' get in the way of those relationships.

6. Bad times are to be expected

Uni looks like a great time, all the time. But just because you've moved out of home, it doesn't mean you've got rid of all those emotions that make you human. You will find things tough. You may struggle with work, making friends, balancing your life, budgeting, coursework marks, homesickness or the state of the communal bathroom after a night out. Things can set you off wondering why you signed yourself up for 3 years and the biggest amount of debt you could ever imagine. My advice: Take it slow and persevere. If things are really looking bad as the weeks go on, talk to someone. There are plenty of university staff who can help you make the right choices and get you on a path that's right for you.

7. If it doesn't have mould, it's not a student house

Moving into a house after a year in halls may seem like the dream, but beware: the average student house is unlikely to be anywhere as nice as your family home. They can come with funny landlords and poor insulation, to name the least of your worries. In our first year we went looking for a mould-free house and despite our surveys of most of the student houses in the area, we were unsuccessful, settling for the 'least mouldy' house. My advice: Get a proper cleaning rota going when you move into your house. It may sound very mature and boring but I promise you, you'll be grateful for it!

8. Work experience is still so important

Going to university these days is not enough to make you stand out from the crowd. You'll thank yourself by the time you reach final year for the time you spent focusing on your career. There are loads of opportunities at uni to try out new career paths, from dabbling in various societies to find your interests, to going to career fairs or getting yourself a part time job. My advice: Get as much as experience as you can whilst at uni. This will make life easier for you when you eventually apply for graduate jobs.

9. 24 hour library days don't have to be a thing

I didn't think I was in final year until I did a long stint in the library, despite the fact that I don't work very well in the library. It's important to remember that this is your degree and you don't have to be the 'stereotypical student' if that doesn't work for you. Just like drinking isn't on the university checklist, neither are unnecessary hours in the library. My advice: Find out what does work for you and don't jeopardise your work regime just because everyone else does it differently.

10. You will change

It's highly unlikely that you will leave uni exactly the same as you went in, unless you drop out in the first hour. Changes happen all along the way as you develop and learn from mistakes and triumph in things you maybe didn't think you would. You will change and that's undeniable, but don't be scared. This is one of the biggest times for your emotional development. My advice: Embrace it!

About the Author: Laura Ash is an English and Spanish 4th year undergraduate at the University of Southampton. She has published for Barefoot Vegan magazine, The Costa Rica News and the Wessex Scene as well as on her blog; Plane Ride Stitches. She won the Year Abroad Blogging Scholarship in 2015-16 for her university and wrote about her experiences as a cricket coach in Argentina.


Can you think of something to add to the list? If so, tweet us: @thegrbteam


laura ash grb author

Laura Ash is a recent English and Spanish graduate from the University of Southampton. She has published for Barefoot Vegan magazine, The Costa Rica News and the Wessex Scene as well as on her blog; Plane Ride Stitches. She won the Year Abroad Blogging Scholarship in 2015-16 for her university and wrote about her experiences as a cricket coach in Argentina.

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