Every little lie they reel you in with at a Cardiff open day
The tough reality of university life
Bright-eyed and ambitious, you turn up to your first choice university open day. They give you a two hour long detailed presentation on what uni life is all about, how much you will enjoy your new life as a student.
You get the required grades and turn up in September with such a clear picture in your head, full of excitement to finally be independent and join all of those wonderful weird societies.
Give it a term and you realise they might have exaggerated things a little.
Freshers’ fortnight – the best two weeks of your life
Despite donating £100 to Blackwells for course books you’ll never read and blowing £50 on societies, you decide that £45 on a band for all the Student union club nights during freshers’ fortnight is absolutely the best way to continue your giddy journey into student poverty.
The thing is, that band they recommended you to buy when you enrolled, that they made you think was the ticket to clubbing that’ll make Ibiza look like a stale school disco? Textbook panic buy. Very few of your flatmates will have it. The ones that do are just as gullible as you. At only £5 entry a night you’ll need to go to the SU 9 times over the 14 days to get your money back. Hardly likely.
You’ll take up so many exciting new hobbies
Another message given to you by the Uni is the wide range of hobbies you will ‘almost certainly’ take up upon arrival in September. If what you want to do doesn’t exist yet, no problem. You can set up your own society!
So, against the weight of a hangover, you eagerly stroll round freshers’ fair, sign up to many different sports and activities, and pay the membership fees. It’s usually around ten pounds per society but what’s a tenner when you could love this hobby for life?
However the stark reality is, you are very unlikely to attend these societies. It is a sad truth that many people give up hobbies before attending University and never actually take up any new ones. Popular sports such as rugby, football and cricket have trials even at subject level, which mean the majority are left out. Kickabouts down the park fall victim to the constant Cardiff rain, and as for pool sessions – do I look like the kind of fancy-pants who just has spare pound coins lying around?
Your flatmates will be your best mates
Overlooking the fact that the pristine halls you’re shown round on your open day definitely aren’t the ones you end up living in, you’re also told how you and your flatmates will be inseparable, nipping into each other’s rooms as one of you plays guitar in front of the open door.
Especially when living in a flat of 11 in Uni halls, you aren’t ever going to get along with everyone. You’re more likely to end up killing one another fighting over who’s stolen who’s food in the flat than find a friend for life. Give it a few months and you might not even say hi when both of you are in the kitchen.
You’ll learn to manage your money
Life as a student isn’t as perfect as it’s made out to be when Student Finance drop more money in your bank account than you’ve ever had there before. It tends to evaporate, leaving you destitute and scrambling for pennies to buy some food.
You seek solace in the arms of Lidl, and grow used to putting up with less-than-premium produce. The milk is already pasts its sell by date before you’ve finished the trek to far-flung accommodation like Uni Halls, the carrots are mouldy within days, and someone’s put medium eggs in your large egg box, but at least you’re feeding yourself. Just.
Your student poverty isn’t helped by dodgy taxi drivers, either. Prices have been known to vary between £6-23 from the train station to the SU.
This is your ticket to intellectual enlightenment
Lectures are less ‘expert insights by those at the top of their field’, more basic points read off a slide that can all be found online anyway. Chances are you’ll prefer the warm cocoon of bed to your 9am lecture.
You’re led to think seminars will be lively, intellectual discussions, where someone cuts across the point you were making with a dazzling riposte, leaving you both intellectually enriched. Truth is, that kind of thing happens more in smoking areas at 3am than around a table somewhere in the depths of John Percival.