I’m now into my fourth week of University (what you’d call College in the US of A; henceforth known as “Uni”). Starting Uni has always been something I’ve been expected to do, and for a long time something I had doubts about.
The ten months I spent at Miniclip last year were amazing — both in terms of the sheer amount of stuff I learned and the practical, hands on experience I got — and when you’re in a job getting stuff done and enjoying it, it makes sense to just double check that leaving to spend three years not working is actually a good idea.
I asked that question and, to be honest, never really got a wholly satisfactory answer. Everyone told me that Uni would be the best three years of my life (oh hey, Ben; not to over-hype it or anything) and that it’d be amazing, but nobody could really tell me why.
Still, I figured I might as well give it a go and if I didn’t enjoy it, I didn’t have to stay.
I arrived four weeks ago, and I’ve not really stopped or slept since. I basically spent the first three weeks having the same conversation with everyone I met:
“Hey, I’m Alex.”
“Nice to meet you; I’m [Name Forgotten Within 5 Seconds]”
“So where do you live on campus? What do you study? Where are you from?”
repeat ad infinium
Things have started to settle down a little bit since then, mind, and I’ve started remembering people’s names and can even happily call some of them friends. I’ve found myself doing a surprising amount of work, finding out the hard way how to cook for myself and I’ve even washed my clothes. THREE times already.
There have been late nights, late nights and a slightly confused mix or academia, “lad culture” and — where the two meet — extensive analysis and critiques of said culture.
The student stereotype of doing very little work, getting up late and spending the whole time in the pub isn’t really accurate. Sure, there’s plenty of drinking and drunkeness, but it’s then followed by 9am lectures and pledges the next day of “I am never ever drinking alcohol ever again”. Pledges, I should add, which are usually kept until 9 or 10pm the next evening. Sometimes longer if the events of the previous night were particularly traumatic.
University very obviously isn’t school, but nearly everyone here is only a couple of weeks out of finishing their A-levels, and thus to some extent the social pressures that one would traditionally associate with school are very much prevalent. Peer pressure regularly rears its ugly head, especially when drinking is involved, and the social circles of “this person is basically in charge” have gone nowhere.
And, four weeks in, I like it here. Like everyone who told me to come here I’m not sure I can really tell you why. University a halfway house between education and the real world; you’re kinda a “responsible” adult and kinda in charge of what happens to you.
Everyone says you don’t have to turn up to seminars if you don’t want to, but nobody really means it. Everyone says you can do what you want, but if you don’t go to Tesco to do your weekly shop, you starve. And everyone says you can spend your whole time out drinking, but if you don’t submit your assessed essay on time you’re basically screwed.
But still, there’s plenty of stuff to screw up. It’s just handy that living away from home for the first time with thousands of people in the same boat means you can share experiences and expertise and learn that way. It also means there’s (nearly) always someone who can lend a hand when you get stuck outside your room at 3am on a Sunday morning because you forgot your key.
It’s a learning experience in more ways than one; I’m here to learn stuff about Politics, but I’m also learning “how to life”.
It’s kinda cool. I like it.