Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Guest Post #2: Hannah's Thoughts About Starting University

***Hello guys, I have another post in this mini university series. Today, we have the very lovely Hannah who is going to be telling us about her thoughts before starting university.***


Hi all, my name is Hannah and I write a baking blog over at Tolley Bakes. I’ve just finished my second year at the University of Bristol, where I study Biology. Joanny has asked me to talk a little about my experiences starting university. Writing about this stuff has brought it all back!

1.       How did you feel before starting university? What were your fears and what were you looking forward to?
In all honesty, I was an anxious mess before I started university. My head was full of the usual worries, like ‘what if I don’t make any friends’ or ‘what if I have an awful time’ - but powerful enough that I had panic attacks. I was lucky to be helped and advised by a family friend who had her own experiences of anxiety, and without her reassurance I’m not sure I would’ve gone through with it. I think the worst part is the anticipation; once you actually get to university, it all becomes a lot easier to deal with.
Despite those horrible attacks of anxiety, I also had moments of clarity – I had no idea what I’d do instead; (perhaps stupidly) I worried what people would think of me if I didn’t at least give it a go, and I thought about how gutted I’d feel if I missed out on some of the best experiences of my life.
I was looking forward to learning about something I loved, getting settled in and feeling like a proper adult! I loved where I grew up, but by the end of that summer I was longing to be somewhere new.


2.       How was your actual uni experience compared to what you anticipated?
So much better than I could have ever hoped for! The first 10 days or so were hard, because there’s so much information to take in and you’re trying to find your feet somewhere new. But there must’ve been a moment when I suddenly thought ‘hang on, I can do this!’ You get to know your new city, you make friends, the homesickness eases off, and then you can go enjoy all that university has to offer.
In terms of anxiety, I did have the occasional panic attack for the first few weeks, but I was stubborn enough not to let it get to me too much. You have to think about how many attacks you’ve not had that week, instead of getting dragged down by the one that you did. I made friends who knew how I felt, which meant we could support each other. Keeping busy helps, which is easy enough to do with Freshers events and then lectures later on.
I had the most amazing time. I met great people, went on some hilarious adventures and – best of all – passed my exams so that they let me come back for a second year!

3.       What advice would you give to anyone starting university?
It’s often hard to believe, but everybody is in the same boat and they feel the same way that you do. People deal with the stress of moving to university differently. Some may be crazily over-confident, some may shut themselves away - but trust me, everyone’s feeling the nerves to a greater or lesser extent. Be kind and mindful of how other people are feeling. One of the best things you can do is invite people along if you’re going to an event, and if they say ‘no’, don’t be put off from {politely} asking again in the future. And there’s something to be said for just talking openly to your flatmates if you’re having a hard time; chances are, they know exactly how you feel!
As scared as I felt, I was really glad that I didn’t just stay put in my room. I used to take a pack of playing cards down to the hall bar most nights and just play a few games with my flatmates. You’d be surprised at how many people will see you playing and come over to introduce themselves – I’d seriously recommend it!
It seems really obvious, but make sure you love your course. You may get by in first year whilst it doesn’t count; but when the workload intensifies in second year, it’s really difficult to motivate yourself if the course isn’t something you naturally find interesting. 
Try new things! Again, very clichéd advice, but for a reason! There are so many cool things going on, particularly in Freshers week. Go to Freshers’ Fair {see how much free crap you can collect}, get involved in hall events, go to society tasters… I met my current housemates doing random things like salsa dancing, acting in plays and at a silent disco. All in all, be open-minded and brave, and you’ll have great stories to tell if nothing else. 

***Thank you very much Hannah for taking your time out to share your experiences. It's good to see that you settled in well after all.
Hope you guys enjoyed her post. Don't forget to check out Hannah's baking blog at Tolley Bakes.
Thanks for reading***