My University Experience: First Year

When people tell you that university flies by, they're not lying.

I don't know where the last eight months have gone.

I always knew that I wanted to go to university. It was one of those nerdy ambitions that I had and after years of dreaming it became a reality.

My destination: the University of Derby to study football journalism.

Moving In Day:

After months of shopping trips to IKEA, just to make sure I had every type of bottle opener and enough bed sheets to last me the whole year, the 10th September came by quicker than I could have ever imagined.

I made the short-ish trip up to Derby - with two cars packed to the brim (I really don't know how I managed to take THAT much stuff) - I knew that however nervous I was in that moment, it was going to be one of the best decisions I'd made.

But, no one can prepare you for moving in day. Stress, mothers crying and takeaway.

As I walked up the stairs (FOUR flights of stairs - the only reason I didn't put on four stone during this year but also the bane of my life), suitcase and kettle in hand, it hit me that I was actually moving out. And that was scary.

With the help of my parents, we moved everything in and made it look a little bit more like "home." Although it didn't seem like it at the time; it did, at the end of first year, feel like my second home.

Trust me, it never stayed this clean.

I said my goodbyes and headed into the kitchen like a strong, now independent women. Even though on the inside I was a blubbering wreck, now that my equally emotional mom had left.

I sat down with the rest of my flat mates, ordered Chinese and spent the evening getting to know the others three girls I was going to be living with.

Plot twist: we didn't go out partying on the first night like any other fresher and one of my flat mates moved out and left uni after one night.

Freshers Fortnight:

But, we did go out partying on the second night and I don't think I'll ever forget it. Three different clubs and a lot of alcohol.

For someone who never went out clubbing and had hardly tasted alcohol, freshers fortnight was a completely different experience for me but I really loved it.

Going out and socialising has been a big part of my university experience so far and I don't think that will ever change.

However, freshers isn't about just that. It's about going and meeting new people, your course mates, lecturers and getting to know the uni.

Yes you'll witness drinking at every conceivable hour/situation, but you will also start learning how to live on your own and probably set off the fire alarm.

But, my advice is to go out and enjoy yourself. It's cliché, but true. Be yourself, test your limits, get out of your comfort zone.


The Course:

I couldn't have found myself a more perfect course.

When I say I have loved every second of it, I'm not lying. It has been a year beyond my wildest expectations.

From interviewing Jacqui Oatley, meeting and listening to Gareth Southgate, sitting in on Steve Bruce's press conference and being in the press box at Wembley. To being published in the Birmingham Mail, Belper News, Women's Super League website and being credited by the Premier League.

Add on top of that 53 games this season, countless press boxes and establishing myself in the women's game, it has been one hell of a first year.

I was always told to follow my dreams, and this degree is making it happen.


Messy Kitchens:

I will hold my hands up and admit that I am not the tidiest of people, far from it. But when it comes to the kitchen, I always tried my best.

Yet some of my flat mates didn't.

Bin bags slowly piled up, surfaces became sticky and a disgusting smell started to fill the air.

Be prepared.

If you're starting uni next year and moving into halls, don't be shocked by how bad your shared kitchen can get.

You'll also be at fault for missing your day to take the bins out or ignoring the mouldy milk in the fridge, but just be prepared to have to move all your kitchen utensils into your bedroom half way through uni because it's better to live out of your room.

Home Sickness:

Although the first year has been everything and more, one thing I have really struggled with was home sickness.

Independence is a great thing.

Being able to go out without texting your mom with updates every five minutes, putting in 12 chicken nuggets at midnight and waking up at lunchtime without being greeted with THAT look is a great thing.

But it's not all great.

The first three months of uni was great because I could eat when I wanted, leave the house when I wanted and clean my bedroom when I wanted. I don't think I really felt home sick.

Yet after returning to Derby from my five week stay at home over Christmas, it hit me like a tonne of bricks.

You go back home to your dinner on the table and everything done for you. And then all of a sudden it's back to making your own food, washing your own clothes and buying washing up liquid. I know it sounds petty, and something that everyone has to do at some stage of their life, but it's all a contributing factor.

Obviously, the main thing for me was the fact that my mom and dad weren't there for a hug when I was feeling down.

I'd be looking to go home every weekend, made easier by the fact I had a car, because I felt so lonely. I wasn't enjoying uni anymore and I just wanted to sit with my mom on the sofa watching crappy TV.

But if anyone asked me whether I wanted to go home, I'd be very quick to say no. I wanted to be at uni, I wanted to be with my friends.

It was a weird internal conflict that I was fighting, yet I learned quite quickly that it's okay not to be okay and it soon got easier. I went home at the weekend and saw my family while squeezing in a trip to Villa Park and felt better for it.

Even though it felt at first like I was giving in and not sticking it out in an empty flat, the two hour round trip was worth it.

Friends:

There's a saying that reads 'the friends you make at uni will be friends for life' and I genuinely believe that it's true.

You see each other at your worse (eg, throwing up after downing one too many vodka and cokes), but experience the best times together (like walking back to halls at 2am in the morning, chips in hand, laughing uncontrollably). There is always going to be ups and downs where friendship is concerned - if it was all rosy in the garden you'd probably get bored - and maybe it shows you care, but no matter what you stick around. You're always there for them and I certainly miss them now I'm back at home.

I can honestly say I've made best friends with these people and I'm blessed to have them in my life, sharing what has been the best experience of my life.


★★★★

If I've learnt one thing from my first year at university it's to be happy. Live in the moment. Grab every precious opportunity with both hands because you never know when you might be able to do it again.

Here's to more drunken nights, emotional breakdowns and making memories in second year.

Molly Jennens

I'm Molly Jennens and I am an aspiring football journalist. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy it.

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