Saturday, 17 December 2016

Thoughts on going home

I'm currently sitting in the departure lounge of Edinburgh airport, waiting to catch my flight home. I thought it would be good to write down some of my thoughts about my first term at university, and how I'm feeling about leaving St Andrews for 5 weeks.
Unlike most people who I know at university from the UK, I haven't been home since I arrived in September. Personally I don't really get too homesick, so it hasn't been much of an issue but I've missed my dog and cat SO MUCH! As much as I love being in St Andrews, sometimes all you want is a cuddle with your dog, and to be utterly ignored by the cat.

Over the past three and a half months, I can finally say that I've felt like more of an adult. I now wash my own clothes, cook my own meals, book my own train tickets and don't have to tell anyone where I'm going and when I'll be back. I think this is probably going to be one of the things I miss the most when I'm at home. It sounds silly, but I won't be able to control what I'm having for tea everyday- something which the control freak in me has really enjoyed while being in Scotland.
I'll also definitely miss living with my flatmates! they have become such amazing friends in such a short space of time and it's going to be strange not seeing them about when I'm making a cup of tea. Also, because of where I live, seeing my friends at home is so much more difficult- it's either a half an hour bus ride or 20 minute drive, so I can't just pop into town for a coffee like I can at uni.

So, what have I learnt while I've been away? I've settled into living away from my parents quite well, one of my main worries before moving away was that I'd find student life a little overwhelming. Things like when I was going to do the washing or shopping had never really crossed my mind before, but I actually got used to forward planning really fast. I think once you realise that if you don't cook yourself dinner no one will it becomes so much easier to motivate yourself to actually go shopping. I also have so much more apprieciation for all the things my parents do that I took for granted while I was living at home. Planning when I'm going to do my own washing is enough of an effort, so I can't imagine how annoying planning the washing for four people must be! 

Managing to survive by myself has also given me so much more confidence in my abilities to be a functioning human. I remember about a year ago I was worrying so much about getting on a direct train to London, but since I've been at uni I've travelled from St Andrews to Nottingham by myself, by train with 4 changes and a walk across Newark and have managed to make my own way to the airport to catch a flight with no bother at all! I really couldn't have imagined myself being able to do that without a sleepless night beforehand even a few months ago.

I actually haven't found budgeting too hard either. I was soo paranoid about running out of money having been a bit of a spendaholic before I went to uni, I went to the utter extreme and only spent about £15 on my first food shop. how expensive food is was actually quite shocking, especially in terms of meat and so it really made me think about what I was buying. Alcohol too seemed so pricey! I genuinely couldn't justify buying alcohol when I could spend the same amount of money on a book or new top. It's got to the point where I've more or less stopped drinking, but I have absolutely no regrets- I would take a meal out or new jeans over vodka anyday!

Friends was another thing I was really nervous about before going to uni. I wont spend too much time on this as I've written a whole post on making friends, but I have to say it was hard. The main thing that really helped me was reminding myself how long it took me to meet my best friends from school- some I didn't even meet properly until my last year! I've always found it hard to make friends, so expecting myself to meet my friends for life in the first week, or even the first term was totally unrealistic. I have made so many amazing friends, and they're definitely people I think I'll know for years to come! There is such an expectation to immediately find your group of people, but literally no one actually found this- freshers friends are not your friends forever!

I've also been through my first exam period since the horrific experience that was A-Levels. I couldn't have found exams at university any more different! For me at least, the first two years don't count towards my final degree, so all I had to do was get 7/20 to pass each of my modules. Obviously I aimed for higher than 7, but it was so nice to know that if I had a bad exam or an off day, it wasn't going to sacrifice a whole 2 years of study, or indeed my entire 14 years of school. The actual exams too were so much less stressful. As they were only standardised within the university rather than across the whole country, they were less strict on silence as we walked into and out of the exam which really helped to calm my nerves, and they also didn't read out the horrific exam regulations that they do at the beginning of GCSEs or A Levels that absolutely drive the fear on god into me. All in all, they were still stressful because they were exams, but I wasn't nearly as stressed as I was in the summer.

I've had such a good first term at St Andrews, and can genuinely say that I'll miss it while I'm at home. It is nice to know that tonight at least, I'm not going to have to cook my own tea!

E x



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