Ten lessons I learnt in my first month at UCL
Spoiler: unfortunately none of them are how to nail grimy toilet selfies
Alright freshers – it's officially been seven weeks since we started at UCL. Crazy. But besides the little quantum mechanics I've actually managed to retain in my brain, and how not to poke my eye out with capillary tubing, what have I learnt? Well, to put it simply – how to survive alone in a little city called London. Here's ten lessons I've learnt from my time at UCL so far.
Even if you’re from London, you’ll still get lost multiple times
As someone who’s lived in London my whole life, I figured coming to UCL would be a breeze in terms of navigating the campus. Err…. map please? By the amount of times I’ve accidentally stumbled into some third-year Physics lecture, I’d say I’m pretty much a Physicist now (soz Biochem).
Just do it
If you remember anything from my article, this should be it. In fact, take it from Shia LaBeouf himself: JUST DO IT. Getting yourself out there and doing things that may not necessarily be in your comfort zone is so important when it comes to settling into your new life at UCL. Whether it be getting drunk with your flatmates and knocking on any and every door in your block to try and make friends, or embarking on that slightly dodgy-looking pub crawl, do it – you never know what’ll happen, or who you’ll meet.
You'll probably never see 90% of the people you met in Freshers again
It’s Sports Night at Loop, and after having downed one too many snakebites you bump into a girl and –OHMYGODILOVEYOURHAIR?! You immediately vow to be best friends for life, before exchanging every social media imaginable. A week or two passes and…I still haven’t seen that girl around…was her name Sara? Or Sarah? Or was it Julia?
Cooking gets tiring after pretty much a week
Ahh, the idealistic views about cooking that every fresher holds before arriving. Meal prep for the week ahead. Economising with a once-weekly trip to Lidl. Sunday lunches with your flat. However, as soon as you’re faced with the one tiny fridge shelf and seemingly never-ending pile of dishes, frequent last-minute trips to the local Sainsbury’s for pizza never seemed like a better idea. Fruit? What’s that?
The work is hard
“Umm…. obviously?” I hear you say. But be honest with me, how many times mid-A-Levels did you fantasise about only having one subject to study for – the subject you love most (or at least thought you did, before you actually started studying it)? One word: wrong. Sure, those eight contact hours may look like nothing, but with the amount of content you’re expected to learn, and assignments to hand in, the library will quickly become your best friend – or at least, reading week and Lecturecast will.
Your family are still there – spend time with them
I know, I know – I can already hear you groaning. Yes, this one pops up in just about every guide to university, but it’s so true, especially once the crazed blur that is Fresher’s week is over. Yes, Henrietta, you may do your own Waitrose shops now, but Mummy and Daddy are still there, and are still the most important people in your life.
Make time for them, even if it’s just a weekly Facetime (most of that being spent talking to the dog). But best of all: visit them! I didn’t go home for about 3 weeks but when I did, I realised that you truly don’t know how much you miss them until you see them.
Spending time by yourself is more than fine – it’s essential
I can’t stress enough how important taking some me time is. Sometimes all you need is a little time curled up with some popcorn and the new series of Stranger Things. I mean, that essay? Just do it…tomorrow.
Keep a record of your life
Let’s face it: all those drunken nights and hazy days of Fresher’s week are probably best forgotten, but when you’ve found your feet keeping a diary is a great idea. It doesn’t have to take long: just jot down what you were doing each day. Trust me, the feeling you’ll get looking back at your first-year antics in a few months or even in a few years will be every bit worth the effort (let’s hope we all don’t cringe too much though…).
You’re allowed not to love every minute
University. From pretty much the moment you start school, everything seems to lead up to this mystical place where every adult reminisces about the best times of their life. But let’s be honest – it can bring some of the hardest and most trialling times of your life, and it’s apparent even just a few weeks in. I mean, you’re thrown into a completely new environment with completely new people AND you’re expected to have the best week of your life. Pressure much?
The scramble to have as much fun as everyone else seems to be having can be intense, but one thing I’ve learnt is that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and miss your old friends. Likelihood is, most people (let me rephrase: everyone) is feeling the same. But trust me: once you’re a few weeks in, UCL will be your home and you’ll forget what your life was like before you got here.
This one goes without saying – you’re in the middle of London with thousands of other students – enjoy it and make the most of it! I mean, you’ll probably (definitely) never live this centrally again, so make the most of those extra minutes of sleep to nurse your hangover.