Jess Reviews: My Uni Expectations

It’s been two and a half years since I wrote my Back to School? Uni Expectations post where I outlined my bright-eyed, hopeful expectations for my university experience to come. Seeing as I’m in my 3rd year now with one more year to come, I think I have adequate experience to comment on my expectations. Here’s how they all turned out.

(It’s a long one! 2068 words, about a 10-minute read)

Social Life

There will be two types of people: those who stay in all the time and those who go out a lot.

This is definitely not true. I myself am an example of someone who floats in between these “two types of people”. Also, one’s definition of “going out” and “going out a lot” can also vary – and that’s fine!

In my first few years, I tended to go out to clubs about 5 times in the 8-week terms, plus other activities like going to pubs, socials, concerts, etc. Recently though, I’ve enjoyed staying in and playing board games (occasionally with alcohol) with my friends more, as I feel like I get more quality time and laughter that way. Or even just cooking dinner with people is a lovely way to spend time 🙂

Social life, work or sleep: you can only choose 2.

Luckily, I’ve found that I can actually choose as many as I want (to a certain extent haha) – I’ve chosen social life, work, sleep, music, chess, sports, dating… And I seem to be doing ok at all of them, if I may say so myself 😉

It does help that my workload tends to vary – some weeks it’s very light so I can do all the other things that I enjoy; other weeks it gets a bit tight and I cut my hobbies down to the bare minimum (which is still at least 3 hours of music and 4 hours of sport a week!)

I will make friends for life

To be confirmed.

Cynical Jess aside, I think that I will have friends for life – I don’t expect to keep in touch with all of them forever, but I think that I will be able to catch up with them in the future.

As I’m in my third year and it’s looking like we won’t be returning to university next term (😢), it will be unlikely that I’ll see my friends who are graduating for a long time. I wasn’t expecting last term to be the last one I’d spend with my friends at uni, but it is what it is.

You’ll probably meet loads of people you’ll never see again in the first week and it’s only when you really settle down into the routine that you make real friends.

I found my first best friend on my first day! I’m so grateful for her because we spent lots of Fresher’s week together, and then we did find our group about halfway into the first term.

I did meet a lot of people in Fresher’s week, but thanks to the collegiate nature of Oxford, I still see a lot of them around my college. As for my subject, it’s not too far off – a lot of people I met seemed to turn up to lectures for a few weeks then disappeared off the face of the earth 😅

friends-girls-skirts

I’ll be a real Oxford girl about 2 weeks in

But what is a “real Oxford girl”?? There is no such thing – everyone is just themselves (at least I hope they are) and I certainly roughly knew my way around to show my mum and brother where the big things were (think the Rad Cam, the most Oxfordy building in Oxford) but I hadn’t heard of or tried Ben’s Cookies until I was in 2nd year. HOW DID IT TAKE ME THAT LONG???

I’ll start dating

Ooh hoo hoo… I got off to a rocky start, but I did start dating in 2nd year! I’m currently in a relationship (who would’ve thought?!) No details though, I’d like to keep my private life private thank you very much 🙂

I’ll start off thinking that everyone is super smart but once I get to know people, I’ll realise that they’re all average, like me.

I was actually right and wrong about this. I came across people who I thought were super smart, and I was not wrong – these people truly are exceptional. I’m still in awe at them.

However, I realise that they do still have their own flaws and weaknesses: they are still human! But their shortcomings don’t make their strengths any less impressive to me.

Then you also tend to meet people who come across at quite average, but if you get the privilege of experiencing them in their element, you get completely blown away. I think these experiences are what have really helped me be more open to different people and different points of view – I think it’s amazing how different we all are and all the things people can bring to the table.

Personal Life

They are the ‘best years of your life

They’ve certainly been the best years of my life so far! I’ve really enjoyed myself – I’ve met some great people, I’ve travelled to great places, I’ve eaten some great meals, I’ve experienced some very unique things – and I wouldn’t swap these few years for anything.

I’m not ready for the real world yet (jobs and responsibilities? Eek) but I think by next year I’ll be ready to go out into the real world and start earning a living. In a way, I’m looking forward to being more independent and self-sufficient, and actually being able to enjoy weekends! I suspect the ‘best years of my life’ are still to come 🙂

I’m still at the sunrise of my life 🙂

won’t be able to look after myself

I actually managed to look after myself quite well during 1st year, although I had to bring my best friend along with me to do my first load of washing 😅

I took care of my mental and physical health, and luckily I live in catered halls so cooking wasn’t too much of an issue. I didn’t get too lost most of the time, and I made sure that I was organised.

The one thing I think I could’ve done better was probably prioritised sleep more, but I survived 1st and 2nd year quite well whilst doing everything I wanted to do!

I don’t think I’ll miss my family

I didn’t miss my family at all in 1st year – I know that makes me sound like an awful daughter/sister, but I kept myself so busy with all my hobbies and work that I didn’t have time to ruminate.

Moving to a different environment also meant that I didn’t miss my family so much – unlike my mum, who had to face my empty chair at the dinner table every day. I was also lucky that I found great friends so quickly, and they helped to be my support system.

I did miss my family in 2nd year, especially towards the end of term when I started to feel burnt out. I couldn’t wait for term to be over so I could go home and not worry about work, what I was going to eat, when I would do laundry, etc. But it was always fleeting, and calling home every week helped 🙂

I will overpack or underpack.

This was so true – I totally overpacked when I moved in for my first term, but then in 2nd and 3rd year I would underpack and have to travel home to pick up more stuff.

It got a bit confusing when I was allowed to leave a few boxes in my room over certain vacations – I would forget what I’d left behind, and then I’d move back in and realise that what I thought I’d left behind in my room, I hadn’t.

I guess I just have to be more thorough about checking things off my checklist when I pack!

Health

I’ll either:

Gain weight during the first term (the famed freshers’ fifteen) and go down with freshers’ flu, or…

Be really proactive and wake up early, eat healthily, go for runs every morning, do sport, cycle places etc. and get fit.

I like to think I’m going to be the second, but I reckon I will just end up doing the first…

Oops, I knew myself too well!

I definitely did gain weight during the first term, but it went back to normal when I got into my routine because I would cycle everywhere and do plenty of sport.

I think my fitness tends to decrease a bit during term, because most of the time I’m sitting down in lectures or libraries; by the time I get home every vacation and start running, I’m quite unfit!

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

Work

It’ll start off alright but then quickly snowball until I’m up to my head in work and I can barely think about anything else

Term definitely does tend to start off alright, and then all the work does tend to pile up! But luckily, I didn’t find that it got so bad that I couldn’t do anything else – I kept my commitments to orchestra, football, table tennis, quartet, etc.

In a way, I found that these commitments actually forced me to be more productive, because I would have to finish my work before heading to these commitments.

Chopping up long periods of time forced me to stop procrastinating. I find that having a lot of free time makes my brain think that my work is not that urgent, but THIS OTTER VIDEO IS OMG – but if I have some other thing to get to, I keep an eye on the time and make sure I progress on my work.

I’ve had to pull a few all-nighters, but no more than once every 2 weeks in 2nd year (yay lab reports…) and my young body back then just took it like a champ. I don’t think I can do the same tricks anymore…

It’ll be hard but fun in a weirdly rewarding way

Strangely, I didn’t find it as hard as I found the IB. The actual work was sometimes hard, sometimes just a slog, usually manageable (if not, one all-nighter would usually do the trick). But it certainly was fun – I think that I am a student at heart, and I really enjoy learning new things.

I’ll still manage to procrastinate somehow

Surprisingly, I managed to get on top of (and sometimes ahead of!) my work most of the time! I found that filling my evenings with some kind of activity ensured that I had to finish that day’s work early – and I also made sure I finished my work for the next week by the weekend.

Leaving a whole day for me to do work made me less productive (as would be expected according to Parkinson’s law, which states that work expands to fill the time you give it).

Don’t get me wrong – I still procrastinated a lot (often by doing laundry/going shopping) but I think I really enjoyed being able to control my time and do what I want to do. I always had some kind of rewarding activity to do when I finished working!

dtj-violin-concert-stu-allsopp
Orchestra was something I looked forward to every Friday evening. Photo by Stu Allsopp

The workload will be like the IB but a step up – but somehow I’ll still find time to do what I want to do

Surprisingly, I found the actual volume of work more manageable than the IB – but this is only my experience doing Materials Science. My friends doing chemistry/biology/maths certainly did not agree with me!

Obviously, the actual content of my studies has been a whole step up in terms of complexity, but I have found it really interesting so far. I’ve also found time to do what I want to do, and in a way, all my extracurricular hobbies have helped me to do my work in good time!

What expectations did you have about your university experience?  If you’ve already been to university, did it live up to your expectations?  What kind of things did you enjoy at university? Let me know in the comments!

3 thoughts on “Jess Reviews: My Uni Expectations

  1. Loved reading, Jess; you’ve been having quite an experience, all told.
    I also love that you have managed to keep the work/play balance; it’s all too easy to forget our creative/sporting needs. However, not you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve definitely had a great experience so far 🙂 I am (just about) balancing the work with the play, although I might have to be a bit more creative now that I’m stuck at home haha. Thank you for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: 30 Questions to Ask University Students to Figure Out if a University or Course is for You | Daring To Jess

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