Here we are, at the end of my first year of university. My last exam was almost a whole month ago and I have since been home, to York and Durham to visit school friends and back to uni for my end of year ball (see photos!), to pack my stuff and say goodbye to halls and to First Year. Hence, prepare for what could quite possibly be a pretty long post!
Reflections on the year as a whole: Undoubtedly, moving to university was one of the biggest changes of my life to date. Leaving behind my family and all my friends, I relocated to an unknown city approximately 120 miles away from my home. As I was not writing this blog at that point, I have no written account of the first few days, week and months of my university experience, but even if I had, I’m not sure that I would have been able to have summarised it. I think most Freshers would be in agreement that those first few days and weeks were nerve-wracking, scary and unfamiliar. I was lucky to have several people from my school, including one of my good friends, attending the same university as me, so I was not completely without people I knew but, nonetheless, in halls and in lectures, I was forced to reach out of my comfort zone and make all new friends. And I am very glad that I did, because I have made some amazing friends this year! To say that the whole experience was epitomised by nerves and fear would be completely inaccurate – thank goodness! On a different note, those first few days were incredibly exciting: I was lucky to get on well with my flat and to make close friends in my course quickly; there was certainly excitement in new-found independence; and in many respects, living in halls proved to be an amazing experience and one that stopped feeling unfamiliar surprisingly quickly. We had a formal dinner on the second weekend of term and I remember us all commenting on how funny it was that we had only known each other two weeks, because it had felt much longer. Looking past those first weeks, for me the university experience got increasingly better throughout the year. As someone who much prefers familiar settings, whilst the first term seemed, at times, disconcertingly unsettled, by the second semester I felt at home. It was during the second term that I became much closer to all of my friends, both my flat and the others and it was during this term that I realised how much I loved my new city. Coming home now, I was much more sad to leave than I had been earlier in the year. Over all, First Year has been an amazing year. I have been lucky enough to meet and become close to many new people; I have visited new cities, such as Leeds, Durham and Swansea, and have had some fantastic weekends with uni and home friends alike in these cities; and I have been beyond lucky enough to go to uni only 12 miles from my best friend’s uni, which has certainly made my year all the more great. And, of course, I have learnt lots and lots of History!
On saying goodbye to halls: Unlike most things, halls is something that I will not be returning to after the summer, so is one of very few closed doors that First Year has concluded with. I doubt that many people can say that their experience in halls was not a large part of their experience of First Year, as they provided nothing less than our first home away from home. It was in my hall that I begun university life, when I was dropped off last September. And it was my room, at the corner of the top floor of F Block, that I returned to every evening and woke up in every morning. Being in a catered hall certainly made a large difference to my university experience. It brought much of my block, and certainly my flat, to become, to put it bluntly, instantly dependent on each other for someone to sit with at meals, and that inevitably brought us closer. I remember that on the first day of uni, my block sat outside on the quad together, in a sad excuse for a circle, and made a whatsapp group chat that somehow ended up including a couple of add ons from other blocks in that we were led to believe were in our block even though they were not! In a weird way, that group actually remained relatively intact. To think that I will not be living with anyone that I currently live with, as I am living out with people predominantly from my course next year, is a very weird thought. Nothing quite bonds you with a group of people like groggy eight a.m. breakfasts, even more horrendous four a.m. fire alarms with all twenty or so of us huddled together in our pyjamas, and slightly embarrassing weekends where one of the girls in my flat would come in to collect me to go to breakfast and I would still be asleep. (Oops, these are all related to my inability to wake up in the morning). Thankfully, all students live quite near each other next year so we will still see each other but, nonetheless, knowing that I will never return to my little room, or be able to barge into the rooms of any of my flatmates whenever I am bored, is a very weird thought!
On coming home for the summer: As I mentioned earlier, I was sad to leave university this term, more so than ever. But, I certainly cannot deny that I am happy to be home. Coming home from university is weird because, unlike school holidays, the friends that you have spent the whole year with are scattered across the country. However, two of my close friends from uni are coming to stay next month, which is exciting. In addition, one of my closest friends from my old school is coming to visit, which I cannot wait for! Above all however, it is so nice to be home with all my family and to be back with all my home friends. We all agreed that uni holidays were just not long enough to see everyone that you wanted to see properly, so it is amazing to have such a long stretch ahead to spend with everybody from home.
To finish, here are some photos (not my own) from The Founders’ Ball – an amazing way to end an amazing year…