Reflections: Looking back on two terms of university

Like many others, I arrived at university with high hopes and a need to be liked. 6 months on, I’m now at the end of my second term and, realistically, the end of first year, as we only have two weeks back after Easter before all exams are over and we’re free to do as we please for the long summer months. 

Freshers week was an absolute whirlwind: I met the people I’d been speaking to for months over Facebook, and we were pretty much inseparable for the entire week. We’d go out pretty much every night, go to multiple society-organised events during the day, and plan out our next three years. I made more friends than I ever imagined during Freshers week, and I’ve brought those people with me on my journey to the end of second term.

The first half of first term was packed with socialising, dating, learning, all the things you’d expect from a first year university student. I did get invited to Taylor Swift’s place to listen to her new album, reputation, a month before it was released, which is admittedly not the typical first-year-at-uni experience, but probably the highlight of my term if I’m being entirely honest. Probably also the highlight of my life, but I digress.

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Brittany, Taylor Swift and I at the first reputation Secret Session, in London on October 13, 2017.

The second half of first term was interesting in different ways. We had more deadlines, so had short periods of intense stress while we hammered out essays the night before they were due in, frantically reading them over at 2am to check for any spelling or grammar issues that would need rectifying before the 10am deadline. I also got a lot more confident during these six weeks, and learnt a lot about myself. I started seeing more films, partly because I live insanely close to a cinema, and fell in love with films that before university I would never have thought to watch.

Christmas was essentially three weeks of calendar-watching, counting down the days until we’d all be back at university. As someone who’s very rarely in contact with friends from college these days, the weeks spent at home generally seem quite lonely and isolating, when all my friends are spread out across the country. I did manage to meet up with one of my friends over the Christmas holidays, and we caught up over a few drinks in town, talking about mutual friends, enemies and acquaintances. It was also lovely to see my family, of course, but between Christmas and New Year it felt like I never had a break from seeing family (because I had literally one day between the two when I didn’t see any of my extended family). Once New Year had passed things moved quite quickly. I stayed with a friend from university for the weekend, went to the birthday party of a friend, and returned to university.

Second term was much harder than first term for me, emotionally. I can’t count the number of times I started crying, felt like my world was collapsing around me, wanted to run away. Once, things got too much, and I booked a train ticket home. I went home, thinking I would start to sob as soon as I saw my mum, and explain everything that had happened, but I didn’t. I wanted to explain it, but without the catalyst of tears to prompt it, I didn’t know how. So I spent a relatively happy weekend at home, caught up with an old friend, and returned to university thinking that the worst was over. The second half of second term has, regrettably, been just as much of a struggle as the first. I started to be afraid – afraid of walking home at night, afraid my best friend would hate me, afraid of failing the year, afraid of going to sleep because of nightmares, afraid of waking up because one night I woke up and thought the shelves above my bed was a hand reaching for me. I started to panic at random points in the day, and wondered if I had ever been so low before. I’m still getting over some of the less irrational fears, but generally speaking I’m feeling more positive.

In other ways, second term was brilliant. My friendship group shifted quite dramatically in second term, not so much in that I lost friends, but more in that I gained friends, and got much closer to people I didn’t expect to be so close to. I’d be lying if I said I have no regrets in terms of my social life this term – I feel as though I’ve drifted from a few people that I want to bring back to me, but I can’t regret any of the friends I’ve become much closer to. We’ve been to many film screenings, many poetry readings, many pubs, many protests and many house/flat parties over the last term, and I’ve never been happier with the people I’ve surrounded myself with. I do have an excellent taste in friends, if I do say so myself, even if we occasionally snap at one another.

The strikes, as well, which I have already discussed rather extensively in two other posts, injected a certain feeling of anticipation into the term. The feeling on the picket line was generally hopeful for change, and I remain determined to try to instigate at least some of these changes: I am still carrying with me the excitement for the future we’re hoping to build, and it is this feeling that I want to carry with me into the coming months and years.

Despite all the rocky moments, this past 6 months has been filled with excitement, laughter and love. And I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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