In this Kiki Blah-Blah collaborative post, a few of us have got together to discuss our University days. Was it all booze and fun? Would we change anything at all?
There are three takes on university life including leaving home for the first time, toxic relationships and advice to my younger self.
Oh, university. Supposedly some of the best days of your life. Admittedly I did have a lot of fun, but if I could go back and do it again? I’d make a few changes.
I’m so glad I grew up before Instagram was a thing, and Facebook was only used to find out where the next rave was taking place.
We grew up without this immense pressure to look good, have the best clothes, hairstyles and makeup ‘slayed’ to the Gods; and I was poor AF all through uni so I’d never have been able to afford that. But also, a lack of social media meant a lack of external inspiration, so I had little guidance when it came to uni choices.
I only went to university for the sports facilities. Nobody I knew had gone to uni, and we were being guided through the application process disguised as a school lesson. I did not know what the heck I was doing, so I looked at a random brochure, saw an indoor running track and my mind was made up, Brunel University.
I wasn’t even interested in academia, so I choose the most fun sounding degree I could find – sports science. That’s the first thing I would go back and change – pick a degree I would actually find useful. Sure there are thriving PE teachers and other jobs out there, but I knew after the second year that I had zero interest in the sporting world. Having said that, the uni itself was great, and I had a blast.
I lived on campus for my first two years and the second thing I’d change would have been to move in with my friends instead of my then-partner and live my best life. I missed out on so much fun. I’d even take arguing with flatmates that don’t know how to clean or tidy over that experience again!
The third thing would be to find a job nearer to campus. It took me two hours to get to my retail job in Westfield, which took up my entire weekend and gave me little time to study. Also, I wish I had the balls to walk out after a crappy shift and find a better job. Knowing now that there isn’t even enough room on my CV for most of those jobs means that I could have taken way more risks back then. You live, and you learn!
Although I wish I chose a more useful degree, I have a great career now doing something that I love, and at that age, I don’t think I’d have been able to make a better decision for my future. 18 is so young. Maybe if I took a gap year or two I’d have made a different choice, but it’s not like I had the money to go travelling and have an epiphany while on top of Mount Everest.
My advice to my younger self? Choose a more useful degree, and live your best life!
When you’ve been granted an unconditional offer to study Law at university, the world is your oyster, right?
The minute I arrived at my uni halls I felt good. This wasn’t the first time I’d branched out from the ‘normal’ path and decided to mix things up a bit, but I was excited to see where this would take me.
The first year was equal parts fun and tough as you’d expect. I quickly learned that I didn’t love Law, but I was quite good at it and I’d bagged a year under my belt, so why on earth would I seriously consider a subject change? I should have.
Year two saw a move out of halls and into house share. I knew one of the people I was sharing with, the rest were found through a good old-fashioned newsagent advert. We met, got on as much as eight people who’ve just met can and took the plunge to sign on the dotted line. The person I knew, I considered a good friend. We’d hung out at one of the Uni’s main clubs for the best part of the year before. It seemed a good decision. The night I moved in, and the absolute second my parents were out of sight, the shit hit the fan, and I very quickly realised that my ‘friend’ was a first-class sociopath.
Fast forward several months; several domestic and mental abuse situations later and bizarrely I was still there. I look back now and wonder what the hell was I thinking? Why did I stay? It was like I was determined to be strong, determined not to admit I was being bullied at the grand old age of 22, only kids get bullied right?! Wrong again. I should have got the hell out of there and moved to another house share where I could have focused on my degree; not on personal survival.
It took being pushed down a flight of stairs and having my hand slammed in a door to finally have my [overdue] awakening and move out. I felt pathetic and defeated. So jaded by the whole experience and by my continuing lack of love for my course, I left uni altogether.
I look back today and can see the things I would do differently; move house; take a break and use the credits I’d accumulated towards another course, but I did none of those things. Instead, I worked my arse off, forged a good career and put the uni thing down to experience.
My advice? Pick a course you know you’ll be interested in otherwise don’t bother going. Don’t pick a path you think your parents will be proud of you for studying (facepalm moment from me here).
If you are experiencing domestic or mental abuse on any level, I beg you to seek help. I dread to think where I might be now if I’d stayed another day in that situation. You deserve more, and people are willing to help.
Your Student Union will have trained counsellors available to help you. Alternatively, contact one of the many National helplines available.
I know it’s going to sound cliche!!! But university was life-changing for me.
I was fortunate enough to be accepted onto my course to study fashion design & technology at Manchester Metropolitan University. Being the first one in my family to go to university, I guess I was fulfilling not only my mother’s hopes & dreams but also my own.
There’s nothing like being pushed entirely out of your comfort zone to find out who you are as a person and if you can rise to challenges which are thrown at you.
Living in halls of residence and appreciating the life skills I had (which I would often eye roll my mother for making me do such as cooking, ironing, washing up etc.) My peers were quick to acknowledge things like this and I was only too happy to share what I knew.
I was fortunate to meet Sareta on my course. We hit it off instantly and this lead to us not only sharing a house with our other friends in the second year but we have remained friends since.
The course itself was testing and the workload was insane. I found that I was quite the procrastinator! We would always have weeks to complete work but time management was not my strongest point. More often than not it would get to the week before work was due that I’d realise, I needed to get my sh** together and get the work done. I seemed to work better under pressure as I would really push myself creatively, making sure the work I submitted was of a high standard. This meant pulling all-nighters for a solid week which by the end I would be hanging on by a thread. I thrived on it.
Like most students, having a social life was just as important as being at university. I learned early on that being a student was a struggle financially. I quickly had to find a way to support myself and fund not just a social life but the daily costs of living. Typically I would budget as best as I could then when my student loan hit my account I would be hella bougie! Shopping at Selfridges and eating out most nights. This didn’t last for long as I soon realised I needed a sustainable source of income.
Eventually, I started working part-time at the Manchester United football club and also worked part-time in retail which fit around my uni course and that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Going from an all-girl school to socialising with the boys, my confidence grew tenfold. I wouldn’t say I was promiscuous, if I met someone and completely loved their vibe then I would just see where it went. I was carefree and felt no pressure be in a committed relationship. I did have one relationship with a guy who was younger than me, a Justin Timberlake look-alike, enough said! We met on a night out and just clicked, we dated for a few months until we amicably ended things. From what I can remember he wasn’t entirely over his ex and wanted to give it another go with her.
Looking back, I can say I had the most fantastic time. I met the most amazing people and I graduated after years of hard work.
If I could give anyone advice about going to university I would say first, when choosing what to study make sure you chose something that genuinely interests you or that you’re passionate about. It’s ok people telling you what they think you should be studying but if it doesn’t excite or motivate you then it’s more pressure to try to stay committed to something that you don’t enjoy.
Second, having a social life is great but try to be sensible with your money. Student loans are loans and not free money, nobody wants to spend their lives after university in debt.
Third, accept and embrace people for who they are. The bonds and friendships you make whilst being at university can last a lifetime.
Lizzy shares her lifestyle and opinions whilst travelling around the world.
Not only is she a young, career-focused professional, she’s a Starbucks and Zara enthusiast.
She’d like to settle down and have kids, but all in good time.