That’s it. I’m finished with University. I’m no longer a journalism student at Bournemouth. The days of studying are all over! *well, if I pass my degree*
It feels very weird to be saying the above, because if I’m honest, these last three years of studying have really been testing for me. It would be an understatement to say that I didn’t really enjoy or fit in at University from the beginning. It’s not for lack of trying either – but unfortunately, the whole concept of student life just wasn’t my cup of tea.
So, I thought I’d put together a little post on my University experience, as I know I’m not the only one out there who has struggled with studying or moving away from home for their degree. And I feel more than anything, it’s important to be honest. I like to think of my blog as a diary for me to look back on in years to come – and so to not write this, would be a disservice to my ‘online memory book’.
When I started at Bournemouth University, in September 2013, I was full of hope and excitement about what was to come. Although I’d never really been the going out and clubbing type of person (I kind of got that out of my system rather early on), I vowed to immerse myself in student life – because I knew I’d only be a student once.
I applied for halls and picked ‘quiet’ and ‘all girls’ on my flat preference form, because, well, I love my sleep (and did NOT want to be living in the party flat – even if I went to parties myself) and I couldn’t think of anything worse than having to live with messy boys.
However, although I thought I’d got things sussed, the living situation didn’t turn out quite how I expected. And nor did life in general. I started University and less than a week later, found out that my then boyfriend of four years had cheated on me. It was a horrible situation to be in, 100 miles away from my family and with no-one I knew properly enough yet to cry on their shoulder.
Looking back, I’m glad it happened then because it made me realise that if I could face adversity alone and with so much else going on, that I could do much more than I realised. I wasn’t happy in the relationship and although it was a horrible way for it to end, it meant there was no excuse other than to be strong and end things there and then.
Just as I was pulling myself together and moving on, my visions of a perfect and harmonious all girl flat were turned upside down. One of the girls then boyfriends kicked down our front door in the middle of the night (although we didn’t know it was him at the time), resulting in us having to call the police. Kicking down a front door sounds like a pretty straight forward thing (in a weird way) and it’s a term bandied about quite a bit, but having it done to your personal space in reality, was horrible.
The worst thing was, when it was revealed it was said girls boyfriend – I requested for him to never be allowed to enter the flat again, because it genuinely scared me that someone with so little care for us would be in our proximity and have access to our things. The majority of the girls in the flat refused to accept my suggestion and it ended up in a huge fight. So for the rest of the year, we lived rather awkwardly – with my things frequently being taken out of my cupboards and disappearing.
All of the above, along with the upheaval of moving away, starting a very intense journalism course and missing my family, meant that my IBS, which had lay dormant for years, flared up again – very severely. I felt like I was living in a constant state of turmoil and feared for having to sit in situations I couldn’t easily run out of – like my twice-weekly shorthand lessons, which were held in a stuffy room with 60 other students and no windows.
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I probably sound like such a Moaning Myrtle, but I suppose the point I’m trying to get at was that the first year of University, didn’t really set the tone for the student life I’d envisioned. I didn’t enjoy going out (I managed three nights during freshers – and hated it) aside from the getting all dressed up part and I hadn’t really made any friends I could really relate to. The only girls I became close to on my course, dropped out within the first few months. So I felt more alone than ever.
Skip to Year 2 of University and I knew things weren’t going to get much better. I was living in a house with 5 others who I progressively, didn’t really see eye-to-eye with. I’m not saying that they were bad people, but they (again) wanted a different experience to me, which meant that many nights were spent fumbling around with ear plugs, trying to get some sleep in among the screeching and shouting of my housemates coming home at 3am or playing music so loud the floor shook.
Again, living in constant turmoil made my IBS worsen and I ended up on anti-depressants to try and control the abdominal pain associated with my condition. Really though, all they did was make me put on tonnes of weight and sleep all the time.
Academically, I really, really struggled because I’m not naturally ‘clever’ and it takes me awhile to get up to speed with everyone else. I love writing and always have, but the course, unbeknownst to me, was very news and politics focused, which meant that I had to teach myself about government and media law when really all I wanted to do was be creative.
It wasn’t all bad however, as I met a lovely girl called Danielle towards the end of my first year, who I progressively became closer to – and she’s now one of my best friends! It’s very rare that I connect with someone and love their company, but she is one of those few.
My final year has predominantly been spent at home in London, rather than at my flat in Bournemouth. This was a choice I made largely because I feel more comfortable and relaxed and at ease at home and also because I was in the beginnings of a new relationship, which for the record – I’m now very happy in.
I made the decision around September/October to set my sights on blogging full-time after finishing University and so alongside my Major Project and Dissertation, I blogged without fail every other day. It was my escapism and I think being in a quiet flat – and at home – really helped me (as cliche as this sounds) come out of my shell and have more confidence to do the things I really wanted to pursue.
In many ways, I do feel that my time at University has held me back. All I wanted to do pretty much from the moment I started was leave and start earning my own money. I wanted to be in a place I felt comfortable and at home in, rather than constantly on edge.
My dream of being a journalist (which began when I was 13), was somewhat turned on its head when I realised the realities of the profession and what it involved. As much as I’d always been a nosey person who loved writing (naively, I thought this would mean I would love being a journalist), having to ‘stick to a script’ and make sure your editorial was in line with what was expected, just wasn’t for me. I wanted to make a difference and talk about the things that haven’t been explored, in a way that wasn’t simply conforming to publications ‘house styles’.
So I suppose it’s for this reason that I grew closer to blogging. Being able to be your own boss, all while writing away and experiencing all of these amazing opportunities, was like a dream come true.
And so the main thing I take away from three years at University, is that I’m proud of myself. I knew I wasn’t going to give up, because I desperately wanted a degree to ensure I had something to fall back on – if the whole blogging thing didn’t work out. It gave me an education in professionalising my writing, writing for an audience and knowing how to craft a story. It taught me to fend for myself and stand up for myself, even if I was alone in doing so. It taught me that you shouldn’t settle on something you’re not happy about, just to please others.
And more than anything else, I’m glad I can now begin dedicating all of my time to this website. The site I’ve nurtured since 2011, pouring my thoughts, feelings and fashion tips into and documenting all of my travels. I’m sure I’ll look at this very post in years to come and be able to laugh off the above, recalling it only as a distant memory. But for now, I’m glad I stuck with it. University was tougher than I thought it would be, for so many reasons. Reasons that probably seem trivial to many. But the whole clubbing/drinking/partying student life isn’t for everyone – and hopefully, the best, is yet to come!
What were your feelings about University?