As my university journey officially comes to an end with my graduation ceremony next week, I find myself feeling that bittersweet ache that I felt when graduating high school.
Even through many all-nighters and anxious final exams, I can definitely say these past four years have been the best of my life... so far.
Here, I explore with you 4 highs and 4 lows of university life. Keep in mind that these are just outcomes of my experience, and everyone has their own.
Meeting new people
Meeting new people is without a doubt one of the best things about going to university. First year is probably the most social year: You make friends out of strangers. No one has anyone. And then suddenly everyone has everyone. It’s a fun time. 👭
Though, most friendships made in the early years tend to fade. And, if you’re lucky, what you’re left with in the end is something special: A close group of people who you love spending time with, and can be the truest version of yourself with.
When you’re on your own for the first time, you have to learn how to actually take care of yourself. It’s difficult and messy… but at one point, out of nowhere, you realize you’re doing it well. You’ve actually managed to do this thing called adulting. Your apartment is neat, you’re in good shape, your clothes are clean, you’re eating (relatively) healthy, and you’re happy. And you did it all on your own.
Four month summers
Often, you’ll finish final exams in April, and then have May, June, July, and August off for summer break. Getting to do whatever you want to do, without (many) responsibilities, is amazing. Though, usually, “doing whatever you want to do” ends up being an internship for a good chunk of the four months. BUT there’s always some time left over to travel and relax in bliss. ☀️Having this much time off is definitely something that will be missed when entering the adult job world.
Finding new interests
This is an unexpected high of university life. You go in thinking you know what you want to study and what you want to do, and often leave with something different. It’s rare that you know exactly what you want out of your life at 18, but by the time you leave, you have a more solid picture, without even realizing it forming. You get to take electives about things outside of your main study course, and may find some very random ones, actually very interesting. Not only that, but the people you’re surrounded with often influence you and can introduce you to subjects that you didn’t previously consider.
Laundry, dishes, & other chores
Realizing the amount of effort it takes to maintain a clean and healthy life is challenging. It’s very hard in the beginning… There are too many chores to do, and not enough time to drink?!
These mundane tasks are an unexpected inconvenience in your university life, but don’t worry, you’ll slowly learn how not to shrink your sweaters in the wash.
Probably the worst of the lows is homesickness. I thought I wouldn’t be affected by this, as I was super happy to be self-governing and free. Nonetheless, there are some days where you don’t want anything more than to be cuddled next to mom, reading a book, while Dad watches Friends on the T.V.
But you have to get up and realize that you’ll have that, and your mom’s home-made goodness🍝, soon enough. Just not today.
Exams usually come during two periods in a semester: midterms and finals. Midterms are generally less stressful because you’ve only covered a part of the course material thus far. Cumulative final exams are quite demanding and can lead to deep stress and anxiety for some people. The libraries are absolutely packed during exam seasons, and your health takes a hit because you consume a lot of takeout and red bull. 📚
You have to push through these tough times, and put in the effort your future self deserves. It’s more rewarding than you think.
Having to manage your own budget
Whether your parents support you, or you’re supporting yourself, university is (for most) the first time you have to budget your life. The start is often terrible. You think you’re spending within your limit, until the end of the month when you realize you’re way over. Budgeting takes a while to get good at, but over time you’ll be able to prioritize, and cut unnecessary purchases out.
Tip: Only take a certain amount of cash with you on a night out. Taking your card is dangerous. Drunk you will buy shots. 💸
All that being said, if you have the privilege of attending university, don't take it for granted. There is so much to learn and so much to discover. As cliché as it sounds, it really is a time of growth.
For those who've already attended, I hope this article made you take a minute to look back at your experience, and smile.
Cover photo Credit: warmhealer