What I wish I knew before starting university

I haven’t written anything in a long time, and partially, that is because of how hectic and crazy my life has been the past couple of months. I am in my final year of university (yay!) and I am currently in the process of writing exams which is proving to be rather stressful considering the current political atmosphere surrounding South African universities. However, I am in the process of packing up my dorm room and I started reflecting on all of the things which I wished I had known before starting university.

As much as this is a reflection of my experience, I hope that it can also be of help to those who are being thrown into this new environment and feel as though you are a deer in headlights. Don’t worry, everything will be okay.

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Deleah and myself on our first night moving in to our dorm in 2014

Living in a dorm

I understand that for some people who have never been away from home that the prospect of communal showers, dorm parties, obnoxious roommates or seemingly stupid house rules may seem daunting. But for me having come from a boarding school, it seemed almost natural. If you have the opportunity to live in a dorm, please, please, please do so. I have learned so much about myself (such as my impatience with people who take unnecessarily long showers) as well as  about how to interact with other people.

Chances are that the people you will live with come from all walks of life and you will be amazed at what you will learn from them. Also, it helps to know people from different faculties. You never know when there may be some bomb party hosted by another faculty you want to attend; at least you will have a way in.

Parties

Whilst I am on the topic of parties, I want to say something very important. GO TO ALL OF THE PARTIES IN THE FIRST WEEK OF THE SEMESTER. Why? Most of the first-year students will be there and they will be looking for people to meet. This is your prime opportunity to make new friends and meet new people before friend groups and cliques are formed.

Friends and maintaining relationships

I feel as though I could write an entire book on this topic.

One thing which I really do carry away from this experience is that university has showed me who my true friends are. I have maintained relationships with very few people and for that I am thankful. It is okay to not be friends with everybody. You do not need to be a social butterfly. I tend to keep my circle small and that’s what I am comfortable with. If you are anything like me, and you like low-maintenance friendships, you will know how difficult it is to maintain solid relationships with people. By low-maintenance I mean that I do not have to text or call you everyday or even every week; but I know that when we do see each other, things pick up right where they left off and its as though we had never spent time apart. Don’t get me wrong, you want to be involved in the important things in their lives, but knowing what they’re having for lunch every single day? I don’t know how some of you do it. Seems a bit excessive don’t you think?

Spending and budgeting

When I started university, I didn’t budget at all and so my allowance would be finished within 2 weeks. Luckily I lived in a catering dorm so I didn’t have to worry about food. However in my third year, I moved into a self-catering flat and I needed to learn budgeting ASAP. I have refined my shopping technique this past year and I now proudly spend about half the money on food which I used to at the beginning of the year. I will do a full post on this next week for those interested in how to save money at the supermarket.

There are so many more things which I have learned and knowledge which I have gained these past three years which isn’t in this post. It’s a learning curve and as long as you enter into this new chapter of your life with an open mind, I guarantee that it will be one of the best experiences of your life.

Love and light

Shelley

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