So I’m a fresher again! Wooooo! September marked the beginning of a new journey. Having never felt as though I have ‘fitted’ (with anyone, anything, or in any institution) it has been a beautiful experience finding a place where I fit perfectly, where my quirks and ideas are just right for the mission, where even my flaws can be used to benefit others. I am truly grateful that this course is a much better fit than my last one.
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned how much I loathed my university experience. I feel as though it was the biggest hype of LIFE. For YEARS (oh gosh, you can hear the anger already, I’m sure) I was told numerous fables concerning what my experience would be like. Here are a few:
You’ll meet the love of your life.
You’ll have the time of your life.
It’s the best time of your life.
You’ll make life-long friends.
There are so many factors that contributed to my negative view of that time in my life, some of which were outside of my control. University was tough, rife with heartbreak, health problems and mental health issues – I certainly wouldn’t do it all again. God, no. God forbid. I’d rather eat my placenta. Nevertheless, as I embark on this new journey, I am reminded of all the things I learnt during my undergraduate degree. Here are 7 that I feel are pretty universal I’d like to share with any Freshers reading this. And if you’re way past it, graduated and working a job you hate, reminisce with me!
1. No New Friends (well, some)
So by the 6-week-mark, I was surrounded by complete strangers that I felt I’d known my whole life because we were spending every waking moment together. With everyone living in such close proximity, it’s impossible for friendships to develop normally/naturally; instead, it is a rush: everyone is searching for SOMEONE to call friend and clinging to anybody who remotely reflects them in some way. I used to remind myself from time to time that were actually strangers and perhaps capable of murder. If you just started university, I want to remind you that you do not know your ‘new friends’. You do not know them. You. Do. Not. Know. Them. I cannot stress this enough. Yesterday my uni flatmates and I were on Skype discussing our experience with all the people we once called friends (but no longer call friends because they turned out to crazy in some way). Just because you experience that ‘click’ moment where they just ‘get it’ doesn’t mean you should become best friends with them by the 3rd week. Let time reveal their true character.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
You think that scripture is just about boyfriend and girlfriend? My friend, open your eyes. (My apologies, those last two sentences were spoken in a Nigerian accent). In all seriousness, be careful. If you throw yourself into every relationship and open yourself up, there is a high chance you’ll find yourself hurt.
2. Don’t spend your money on take away (coz you’ll add weight and probably won’t shift it until you’ve graduated)
Yeah, I know you live opposite Mcds and it’s easier to get a double cheeseburger than par-boil rice and attempt to make your Mum’s Jollof rice but don’t give in! Even around exam time where you will inevitably feel as though you don’t have time to cook, STILL COOK. I lost my first-year weight this year. That is FIVE YEARS LATER. Learn from me and resist the temptation.
3. Find a good church.
This is really important. When I arrived in Manchester, I was determined to find a spiritual home. An encounter with a woman stopped me from going to a Church I really liked. She took me aside (despite not knowing me) and told me that the length of my skirt would cause the ex-drug addicts who attended the church to leave the Church and go out and ‘get some’. Now, her words perpetuated the awful rape culture that exists, you know, the societal belief that somehow womens’ clothing determine the actions of men. I could RANT about this. But I won’t. I’ll just say that I stopped going to that Church as a result and instead of looking for another immediately, I spent most of Sunday mornings in bed. In my second year, I found an amazing Church and it changed my life. No hyperbole. I wish I’d found it sooner and not given up so easily. I urge you to find a spiritual place you can find home. I learnt that fellowship is invaluable and crucial to your growth as a Christian.
4. Free food and housing are the best things ever.
There is nothing like coming home and eating for free. Savour these moments. When you come home for the first time, you will be treated like royalty. Enjoy it. The novelty fades by your 2nd year/2nd visit home. Most importantly, appreciate your parents. If they’re anything like mine, living alone will have finally allowed you to grasp the sacrifices they’ve made over the years. Call them once a week, check in on them, thank them; they’ll appreciate it.
5. Raving (and being so drunk that you can’t feel your face) gets boring.
One day soon, I will share my drunken tales. During university, I went from drinking heavily (lol, that sounds sooo dramatic – don’t worry, it wasn’t an addiction!) every time we went to the clerb, to not drinking at all (a self-imposted ban which I felt was necessary at the time). I stopped raving pretty early on – by my second semester in first year, I was over it. It will get boring. Well, for me it did. I wanted more and the more I longed for, I found in my Church. I kid you not. Even before I started sleeping in on Friday nights instead of raving, I used to question the whole experience: if raving was fun, why did I need to be drunk in order to enjoy it? Did that say more about me or the experience? COULD IT MEAN THAT RAVING IN AND OF ITSELF WASN’T FUN? (Lol, not sure why I used caps there.) I still love me a drink, don’t get me wrong, but the whole raving thing became long and most of the graduates I speak to don’t rave as much as they used to/at all. I think the rate at which we raved during university killed the vibe for all future raving endeavours.
(And then some of us moved back to London where drinks cost £10 a pop and night bus home…)
6. The coursework deadline will always come around closer than you expect
And never leave referencing until last because you may find yourself stabbing yourself with a compass as you try to remember where all the full stops go and what should be italicised.
7. When everyone else leaves, God will still be there.
I learnt the hard way that friends and boyfriends will come and go, modules will be passed and failed (lol) and family members will disappoint, but there is a God that remains the same and doesn’t change. I don’t think people are truly honest about how lonely university can be at times. It’s not non-stop raving and lectures last but a couple of hours each day. After that, it’s you. And your room. And your laptop. Figuring out who you are when the loneliness comes is a hard experience but take heart, God is always there, ready to be spoken to and ready to remind that you are loved with an everlasting love.
All my love,