Several myths about student life seem to be erroneously entrenched into the minds of pre-university hopefuls and scathing "grown-ups" alike. I intend to drop a few bombshells upon these falsities as well as, hopefully, quell some of your worries
1. Fast friends
We see it on-screen time and time again. You move your boxes in, knock on your neighbour’s door and that’s that – your future bridesmaid, the godmother of your imaginary children and your future business partner happens to be living right next door.
Some people are lucky enough to find their best friend on day one. But you might have to look a little further afield – through music clubs, lectures, sports teams, the hummus appreciation society, etc. It might simply take you longer than 20 minutes to build deep and meaningful friendships with strangers who are still unpacking their boxes.
Don’t panic. You’ve got three years to make friends. Just because you haven’t fallen into your perfect friendship group by the end of fresher’s week doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen.
2. First year doesn’t count
So this isn’t a myth per se. It’s true that at the majority of universities first year marks don't count towards your final grade. But it's important to remember that you do still have to pass first year.
Yes, 40 per cent sounds easy, but it’s not possible unless you turn up to lectures, submit your assignments, revise and do the extra reading.
Secondly, and more importantly, first year gives you the foundations for second and third year – how to reference properly, how to write to a degree-level standard and how to electronically submit assignments on a system that, frankly, requires an undergraduate degree in itself. If The Three Little Pigs taught us one thing, it's that firm building blocks are pretty important.
3. Beans on toast
Just because I ate instant noodles for lunch and had to call home to ask how to make an omelette doesn’t mean all students can’t cook or don't learn how to.
We students have a reputation for takeaways, but we’re stingy too and a homemade stir fry is far cheaper than ordering Chinese. Once we’ve developed our newfound cookery skills, we proudly send photographs of our dinner to our disinterested mothers. It is easy to learn how to cook a few simple dinners, so you aren't confined to a life of beans on toast.
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You've started your degree, now please make sure you do the reading!
4. En-suite is best
Choosing a life of luxury in en-suite, asbestos-less accommodation might seem like an easy decision. You’ll be warm in the winter and won’t share your sink with a family of silverfish. But battling the woodlice and polyfilling the holes in the walls creates a camaraderie with your fellow students that you won’t find in the luxury suites.
Also, it may sound silly but being forced to leave your room to use the facilities can be a good thing – all sorts of friendships begin on a trip back from the toilet. So, I’m busting the myth that quality accommodation is better: in my opinion, the shoddier the accommodation, the happier the students.
5. Party every night
Perhaps this is a wishful misconception but plenty of nights are spent revising and an equal number are spent binge-watching Game of Thrones.
People also seem to have got the idea that students drink a lot. Of course we’re partial to the occasional jagerbomb, but a recent survey by the University of Cambridge revealed that 30 per cent of students don’t drink at all. Although the archetypal student might spend their night weaving their way back from the club cradling cheesy chips, there are plenty of other things students do like watch an entire series of Friends, cook dinner with your friends or have a board-game night.
6. Punting and prosecco
University is by no means just for "posh" people despite what recent statistics may be saying. As Frank Turner sings, "it doesn’t matter where you come from, it matters where you go". And in my experience, he’s spot on.
Everyone’s thrown together in a melting pot of accents and people come from all sorts of backgrounds at university. The joy of university is not only meeting other people like you, but making friends with many others who are entirely different. The only thing anyone cares about is when you say "dinner", are you talking about dinner or tea or lunch?
7. All work and no play
It’s commonly thought that the point of university is to graduate with a degree. Of course, this is quite important, but university is not just about studying. You have to leave yourself enough time to socialise and do your hobbies.
Join the musical theatre society, volunteer at a local charity, present the student radio or just go for a drink in the college bar with your friends. Whatever floats your boat. For many students, going to university can be their first moments of independence; and discovering what it is that really makes you tick is an important part of this newfound freedom.
So, to sum up – work hard, play hard, don’t panic if you haven’t made friends in the first 30 seconds and most importantly, it doesn’t matter where you’ve come from, just prove the critics wrong and learn how to cook.