I move to France in 3 weeks. THREE WEEKS PEOPLE. As I sit here contemplating the magnitude of this next chapter in my life, I can’t help but also be amazed that I have already survived two years at University. I feel like a broken record but that time has floooown by. Whoosh. Just like that.
But I also sit here a changed person. There are things that University has taught me, the imperfect subjunctive and the Colombian socio-political climate aside, which may seem insignificant to others but which have truly been life changing for me. And there are other things that I have learnt which are just essential to function as a human being.
Because, surprise surprise, being a student doesn’t always mean that you wake up at midday, live off Cup-a-Soup, do the bare minimum of work, neglect showering and party hard into the next day, as the stereotype suggests. If you let it, Uni life can be really enriching and it can teach you a whole heap of stuff that you then plonk in your rucksack and carry with you through this journey we call life.
And I wanted to share some of these with you. So, i’ll stop blabbing on and get going. Here are four lessons that Uni has taught me so far.
LESSON 1: How to look after my body
I have already spoken about this at length in my post Healthy Body, Healthy Mind, so please feel free to go and have a read of that if you wish. I speak about how I have fallen in love with cooking from scratch and using ingredients that not only taste good but are also packed with the nutrients and fuel that I need. And since that blog post, I have also gotten more and more into keeping fit, and the effects that this has had on my mental health have been astronomical. As cheesy as it sounds (please don’t puke onto your screen), I am learning every day how to listen to my body and respect it. This is all about being attune to what feels good. It becomes less about what you look like and more about what ‘healthy’ means to you.
At Uni, you are in charge of keeping yourself alive. So I made the decision to do it well. Uni is actually a great place to be experimental with your health and wellbeing because, for the majority, it is a time in your life when you are only really responsible for yourself. So you can be experimental, try new things and figure out what suits you.
LESSON 2: How best to budget.
Having said that, I have to be fairly realistic. Unfortunately, being a student means that I can’t afford to buy saffron threads and truffle oil on a regular basis (thankfully cooking on the cheap can still be super tasty!) Instead, I try and budget. Ahhh, the beautiful ‘b’ word. Granted, it’s not the most exciting of topics but I’ve tried to work off of a weekly budget for the past two years and it has seriously helped me to keep tabs on what I am spending.
My top tip is to prioritise. I look at my week, think about what I am doing and where I can spend and save. I’m not a huge party animal so I don’t really have to think about expensive nights out, which then gives me a little bit of wiggle room when it comes to the money I spend on food. But one week, for example, I might be meeting four different friends for coffee, have a birthday present to buy, or be in desperate need of printer ink, so i’ll be a bit more frugal with my menu. It just comes down to thinking ahead and being savvy.
However, I will always try and put a little bit of money aside for those moments when you’re out and about and your friend says, ‘fancy a Nando’s?’.
LESSON 3: How to feel comfortable with spontaneity.
Anyone who knows me will know I like to plan (exhibit A: the fact that I budget). I plan my work, my free time, my meals…I plan how I will plan the planning I need to plan. It’s a bit of an addiction. But that means that when something crops up that isn’t in my schedule, I start to freak out. My inner monologue goes a little like this; ‘So-and-so has asked if I would like to go for a walk, that sounds like a lovely idea. Oh, they want to know if I am free now? But in my schedule it says that I am to watch TV from 15:00-16:00. This does not fit in with my schedule. This hasn’t been written down in my bullet journal. This is a dilemma.’
At least that’s how I used to deal with spontaneity. What I quickly learnt when I moved to Uni was that impromptu dates with friends happen all. the. time. What I also learnt was that the time spent with a friend is so much more precious and worthwhile than sticking to a perfectly planned day.
This might not strike a chord with you. You might be completely comfortable with throwing your cares to the wind and seeing where they land. But for some, like me, it actually takes a whole lot of guts to let go of control. And I have found that Uni has been the best antidote to my fear of impulsiveness. Time moves so fast and you realise that if you don’t start saying ‘yes’ to off the cuff opportunities, you run the risk of spending those three-or-so precious years at Uni in your room, alone, with your bullet journal.
LESSON 4: Just to BE MYSELF.
The final lesson I have to share for now (I have many, but i’ll save them for another day) is to celebrate the person you are, and to allow yourself to feel comfortable with who you are. I am so thankful that I have been brought up knowing that I don’t need to change for anybody and my parents would always tell me to ‘just be myself’. But insecurity can still niggle at you, especially when you are walking into a completely new environment where nobody knows you from Adam. I had a choice. I could either lose my integrity and try my hardest to fit in, or I could choose to be myself, even if it sometimes meant sticking out like a sore thumb.
I’m so glad I chose the latter. So what if I would rather stay at home with my knitting and a glass of wine than go out on the town? For some people, they love the whole ‘Uni experience’ of going out, partying, drinking. It’s great for them, but it’s just not me. And I realised that that is also okay. Because everybody is so different. There is not certain criteria you have to fill to find friends and have a fun time. I have my quirks (this just being one example), but so does everybody else and that makes life at Uni so much more interesting.
So my advice would be; ‘you do you’. Even if it goes against the grain or you feel a little out of place at first, if you stick to your guns and actually respect the person that you are, other people will respect you too. Hold your head high with confidence in knowing that you are awesome and you are loved.
Those are some of the lessons that I have learnt at Uni so far. I could literally talk for hours about this topic, so I might have to do a sequel in due course. But that’s enough for now. You are a saint if you are still reading – I award you 250 points. If you are heading to Uni soon, a fresher or a veteran, I hope some of this post was useful to you or you found it interesting to nosy into my experience.
I hope you have a wonderful day, whatever you are doing. I’m signing off, clocking out, hanging up. Speak to you soon.