6 Jun 2014

My University Experience

Time for a lifestyle post!

If you follow me over on Twitter, you might have seen that I've officially passed all of my University exams, so I'll be throwing on a cap and gown and rollin' on up to graduate in September. I've been thinking of writing a post on my own University experience for awhile, but now that I've completely finished University I feel like I can give you all a more rounded view of my experience. I know if I'd have come across something like this before I started University, I would have been a lot more prepared for what to expect. Haha. So hey, maybe this will be interesting for some of you!

I'll have a chit-chat about my actual degree first & then move on to University life. 
So grab a cup'a coffee (or tea.. or hot chocolate.. or don't. haha) and get comfy - because this may be a bit of a lengthy post!

My Degree
I don't want to linger too much on all the 'bookish' things... 
I know you're all more interested in finding out about the student life. haha. So I'll try to be brief!

For any of you that don't already know, I majored in English Literature and History in UCD, Dublin and my degree was three years long. I basically decided to study an Arts Degree in University because I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do when I finished school (and that's okay, most people don't). Fun fact: Teachers/Guidance Councillors suggested I study Law and I actually listened. Put that sucker down as my first choice! Clearly that changed quickly. Law... really? No thank ya!

One thing that I didn't know before I went to University? Apparently a lot of people consider an Arts Degree to be a bit of a 'joke degree'. Really? Get yo'self into the course, study the modules and then tell me what you think. Haha. It's as challenging as any other course. You're studying for a degree after all.

My first year was good - classes were interesting, tutors were helpful and I actually enjoyed the 'new-ness' of sitting in a lecture hall for classes. My grades didn't count towards my degree (as long as I passed), so it gave me a bit of a chance to settle into a more independent style of studying. Apart from a couple of run-ins with some horrible group work projects (avoid those babies like the plague, if you can - someone always gets lumped with the majority of the work), I really enjoyed it!

Second & Third Year were kinda similar - obviously my classes got more difficult (expected) & the workload got heavy (I spent more time at a desk typing up essays and drowning myself in tea than I wanted to) but I started to settle into the ways of the University a lot more each year. Confession time.. I am and always have been a studious person. I'm a bit of a perfectionist (Mam would say a lot of a perfectionist) but I just like getting things done to the best of my abilities. I probably enjoyed my final year the most - 1. Because I could choose the classes that I wanted to study instead of being lumped in to mandatory ones.. like that one time I found myself learning some form of Old English that resembled German.. and 2. Because most classes were assignment based, which meant no exams - WINNING!

Overall though, I really enjoyed my degree. I studied two subjects that I had an interest in, so it was pretty foolproof to begin with. As long as you're doing something you enjoy, you're always gonna find it that bit easier!

What Everyone Really Want's To Know About | University Life
I've literally written and deleted this part so much because I can't find a way to write this where I don't feel stupid, so bare with me. Haha. 

I'll start off by saying that before I hit University, in my head, I was so ready. I was excited to go to college, to be independent, to live the student life. Destiny's Child's 'Independent Woman' was like the soundtrack to my life (#ThrowYourHandsUpAtMe.. haha). I was good friends with a few people in the year ahead of me & I'd visited them, maybe twice, for a night out but by no shape or form did I actually know what the campus was like... other than bits and pieces of student accommodation!

First Year
Sweet Baby Jesus did I get a shock in First Year. Only on my induction day did I put 2 and 2 together and realise that I decided to attend the largest University in Ireland - well done Grace. The place is like a small town, put it that way.
I don't want to ramble, so to get to the point, I straight up HATED University in First Year... badly for the first two months, but I got used to basically putting up with it after that. At one stage I actually told my parents that I wanted to quit (Seriously!). I even spent the first week being driven up and down to Dublin because I just didn't want to be there. In perspective, I know this was the culmination of a lot of things - the sheer size of the place, living with 5 people that I didn't know at all, the relationship that I was in at the time and I didn't have the comforts of my own home (the rooms were tiny). I know those are all things that people have to deal with when they go to University - but they just hit me like a brick wall. I knew that this wasn't the experience that any of my friends from back home were having - University life & me just didn't click.

When I went to classes, I tried to make friends but didn't see any one person enough to really click with them - the amount of people in my course was insane. When I got home, I didn't have much in common with anyone I was living with, although they were lovely. (I did end up living with one 28 year old foreign exchange student who was super strict though). I went on nights out, luckily I was living next door to someone I went to school with, but not often. Sometimes I thought that because I wasn't up for going out every week.. or 3-4 nights a week, people thought I was odd? (That ain't odd. Haha). Basically I felt straight up awkward and worse.. like I couldn't be myself. So after all of that my confidence took a little bit of a hit. It was just easier for me to chill in my room, or take a jaunt to the shopping centre and pretty much wait for Friday to come so I could go home.

I completely realise how bad that sounds but I just really didn't like it. I was literally there to get my degree and leave. haha. What's worse is that I wanted to make new friends and get to know new people - so this wasn't ideal! It gets better though, I promise. :P

Second Year
Going into Second Year, I basically decided that I didn't want to have the same crappy experience that I did in first year. The relationship that I had been in ended over the Summer and that alone made me want to start fresh. I took the plunge and applied for on-campus accommodation, which meant that I would be living with 5 randomers again. Luckily it worked out a lot better than the previous year and although I wasn't really close to my housemates, they were all lovely and often sat up to watch Disney movies with me. That's how we do! Haha.
No matter how hard I tried (and I tried hard because my confidence was on the ground when it came to college), I still found it difficult to make friends in classes - and I really do put that down to the insane number of people in my course. 
Going on nights out didn't change all that much - they were still a rarity. Fun Fact: I got my purse stolen the first night I went out. Typical! Haha.

So at the end of the year, it wasn't a whole pile different to First Year unfortunately. I'd made a few friends, but none that clicked as much as my friendships back home. I felt that because I didn't want to go out as much as others that kinda put me at a disadvantage because I wasn't living the normal 'student life'... Second Year was meh!

Third Year
This is when things started to take a turn about. Finally I hear ya say! Haha. 
In third year I decided to scrap the idea of living in Dublin. The thoughts of having to move in to a house with 5 new people that I might not even get on with didn't really appeal to me for my last year in College. Instead, I lived at home and travelled down to Dublin every morning. Honestly, this suited me so much more. My grades went up, I felt more comfortable and I pretty much felt like myself again - having a new feller & my friends and family to come home to wasn't to bad either ;) Haha.
In my first Semester, I was actually given the chance to jet off to Florence for a trip with a History class. Obviously I wanted to say yes but I literally knew no-one, so the old apprehension set in. Anyhoo, I ended up joining the trip and had the time of my life. Travelling with a small group meant that I made some great friends (and even one that blogs... I'm lookin' atchuu Emily).
This made me settle into University a lot more and in Semester 2 I tried my darnedest to get to know people in classes... even if it made me look like the creepy annoying girl. It worked! :P

At the end of it all, I think I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with University. I loved the fact that I was getting a degree out of it at the end and the work wasn't too bad. I hated my first year, felt a bit meh about my second but my Final Year was great. I guess it's best to end off on a good note. 

I know this definitely isn't the experience that most people have when they go to college - I think I might have been a tad unlucky with my first year and that kinda had a knock on effect on the rest of my University experience. It did, however, give me thicker skin and it's prepared me a lot more for life after University! 

So don't be discouraged if you're reading this and you're heading off to Uni in September. Chances are you're not gonna have the same experience as me. Haha.

If anyone has made it to the end of this post, I applaud you. You deserve some brownies or something!

I'd love to know if anyone else had a similar experience or if University/College just wasn't for you?
Maybe you freekin' loved it and never wanted to leave?
Let me know in the comments!


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