As exams across universities start to clog your calendar, it can be hard to think about what comes next. If, like me, you procrastinate by thinking ahead, past this chunk of deadlines that seem to be wreaking havoc to your onedrive, you might get a little shock. No matter how much you might moan and groan for these exams to be over, they almost always mean one thing: the end of the academic year.
In this blog, I’ll be wrapping up the first year university experience. It’s really important to reflect on what you’ve gone through and how you’ve changed, especially in this crucial year of completely new beginnings. You may not realise now, but from a friendless fresher who never refused another shot of tequila to a (hopefully) more mature student with a whole revision game plan, you’ve changed a lot!
Of course, it’s easy to turn your reflections into regrets. To look back with an air of nostalgia and trap yourself in circling thoughts of things you wish you did. This brings your attention away from the positive memories you made and opportunities you went through with. What we choose to focus on is important in how we remember that experience. Likewise, I’m not saying to ignore all the bad bits, the greyer days when you had no motivation left, a looming deadline and (what seemed like) the worst hangover in the world, should be remembered too. Just don’t get caught up in having the more regrettable moments define your first year at university. It’s the same rule with most mistakes: accept it, learn from it and then move forward with that learning opportunity under your belt.
The first year of university is notorious for the things it teaches you. Remember ringing home asking how to use washing pods, or burning a fried egg? Even if it seems super simple, learning the most essential day-to-day skills is something to be proud of. Hey, who knows, next year you might be able to unlock the chef mastery of a scrambled egg that doesn’t look half like death. On the timeline to becoming a fully-fledged adult, I’m sure this year has got you placing your first feet forward. Congratulate yourself on the mini milestones you’ve achieved, as if it were a ‘baby’s first…’ album. First grocery shop, first meal cooked, first time deep cleaning your bedroom. Talk about spreading your wings and flying the nest!
In appreciating all these small moments of independence and adulthood, keeping them in practice as you go home over the summer wouldn’t be the worst thing. Think about the smile of pride on your family’s face when they see you wash your own dish instead of leaving it to rot in the sink. Truly a moment any parent would wish to see. Or when you cook them the supreme meal of Pasta al Dente and assure them that you most certainly haven’t been eating that for nearly every single meal. I’m sure they’d be so proud of the learning experiences you’ve gained from university and the person you’ve become.
Going from the little routine you’ve created for yourself in your tiny cell of a dorm room to being immersed once more in the chaos of life back home will probably be one of the most disorienting experiences. I think it’s handy to mentally brace yourself for having to live in a house where you can’t be as loud as you like making a pot noodle at 4am, or just disappear for a few hours without telling anyone where you're going. Adjusting back into pre-uni life can be quite hard, especially after how much you’ve grown from living life on your own. However, having these few months of break is a useful time to reflect on uni. It might even trick you into missing it, just a little bit. Remember, we’ve still got another good couple of years for panic-essay writing, early morning microwave meals and nights out (which are not regrettable, just a learning experience)!
Take some time to process how this first year has gone for you, and good luck adjusting to life back at home! (p.s: take note of how mum cooks, I don’t think this dependency on pasta is a healthy coping mechanism for either of the pasta or you).
Anisha Minocha is studying English and Spanish at the University of St Andrews. She is a passionate writer and poet whose work has been published in anthologies, magazines, blogs and won competitions. Contributing to Sink Magazine, she is keen to utilize the voice of young people and share work through her creative writing blog. As a climate activist, she has combined her love for words and the planet in a performance of spoken word at the Royal Exchange Theatre in 'Letters to the Earth'. She also co-runs Young Friends of the Earth: Manchester and has organised workshops, participated in panels and spoken at Manchester Cathedral. about yourself.
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