Fresher's Week // College Chat

Friday, 3 October 2014



On the sixth of July, 2010, I graduated from Queen's University, Belfast with a Bachelors Degree in (Joint Honours) Drama and English. I spent three years studying for my degree. I left Grammar School with my A-Levels in June, went straight to university in September, commuted up and down to Belfast from home every day for lectures and seminars for three years and then went straight into a supermarket. Looking back, I know that my experience of university was not the greatest and I felt like a little fish lost in a very big pond and as a plethora of young minds, and mature minds alike, embark on their higher education journey, here is my experience and 2 cents.


Commuting vs. Accomodation.
As I said, I commuted to uni. I went to and from Belfast on the bus every day that I needed to at uni. My mornings were either very early to beat to the commuter traffic or a few hours later. But I didn't mind that. A lot of other students typically decide to enter halls (aka dorms) for the first year of university and then venture out into house sharing with friends. I didn't do that. I stayed at home. I didn't want to pressure my parents with the added cost of halls or burden myself with the added debt of halls. I wasn't educated enough on what was all included in it. My brother stayed at home during his

Because I commuted, I was acutely aware of my time restrictions. It is only now, four years after graduating, that I know how late the buses back home run to (having changed in the interim). At uni, as soon as my classes were done for the day and I wasn't meeting up with my best friend, I went home. When there was a project that I may have been interested in taking part in, I couldn't attend it because the meetings began far too late in the evening for me to attend because the bus left at this time and I need to walk the stretch to the bus station. It just didn't work and I was very limited to what I could do.

Another reason why commuting worked for me was because I was painfully shy back then - I still am to a certain degree now. I used it as an excuse not to get involved in anything. A pathetic excuse, I know but it worked for me and my social awkwardness. If I had it to do over, I would have further entertained the idea of halls. 



Small Fish in a Big Pond of Alphabet Soup.
I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career/living when I entered university. Hell, I didn't even know what I wanted to do when I was filling out the abominable UCAS application form. All I knew was that I liked theatre and acting, I liked reading and I liked language and I liked media. That's why I chose the Joint Honours Degree of Drama and English. I did well at both subjects at Grammar School so why mess with a mixture that worked? 

I didn't have any drive or ambition. I figured that within the space of three years that something within either subject would inspire me to do something or pick a career path.

I don't do well when it comes to stepping out of my comfort zone - pretty strange thing to say when I'd jump onto a stage and perform at the drop of a hat. I'm not a brave person. I don't do different without my heart feeling like it was going to beat itself to dust. That's why I chose a university that was on my doorstep. That's why I chose subjects that I knew would fit me best. Because they were safe options. I couldn't possibly fail as spectacularly at home and with subjects I was good at than going somewhere else and taking a leap of faith. People I knew at Grammar School were going to England or Scotland or to the Republic of Ireland for their courses and doing degrees in Law, Medicine, Speech Therapy, Physiotherapy and *insert insane degree name here* - one was even prepping to take the SATs to study in America. How insane is that? I'm not saying that if you did the same that you aren't brave, far from it, because it takes a lot to go to university. But for me, looking back, I had interests that far surpassed Drama and English and Belfast.

When I was going through my A-levels, I was obsessed with Cold Case. Every week I would watch as Lilly Rush and her fellow homicide detectives solve an unsolved murder case. I loved all of that - the research, the fitting together of the pieces, the ingenuity and the pure scientific facts that all the CSI teams would have in the evidence files. Even now, I'm obsessed with Major Crimes and it's making me wish that I had taken Criminology as my elective module in my first semester of my First Year instead of Social Anthropology. I had seriously contemplated doing Criminology as the module sounded interesting on the course pack but once again, my passivity took over and I took Social Anthrolpology because my best friend had chosen that as her elective too. I did love that module of Social Anthropology as it was fascinating and linked effectively with lectures included in Drama and English presented at the same time. An added bonus was watching an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise - which I had already watched and informed the lecturer of an even better episode.



Be Yourself
Don't hide yourself away. I hid away for three years. I went into university with my best-friend and I left university with my best-friend. I didn't have any close friends in-between - my friendships were semester and seminar based - we only spoke because we were in the same class and when we weren't, it was sayonara. Once my lectures and seminars were over for the day and I wasn't meeting with my best-friend, I headed straight for the bus station and went home. I didn't go out for coffee with anyone else, I didn't really go after-lecture drinks. I didn't go to parties or, really anything and I missed out on a lot because I wasn't invited and I was just too shy and too self-conscious. 

I didn't admit to anyone that I loved Star Trek, that I loved Battlestar Galactica, that my favourite actresses were Mary McDonnell and Amanda Tapping, that I could dance or sing. I had created this persona to keep the most vulnerable part of me safe. Everyone else was so comfortable with who they were. I wasn't comfortable with my own reflection, never-mind with who I was. 

University is that time were you could be whoever you wanted to be. I hid myself away in Grammar School because everyone gave me a look whenever I would tell them something about myself that would make me so self-conscious. I went into university thinking that I could be myself. I didn't do that. I ended up being the same person I was in Grammar School. The only person that saw the real me was my best-friend because she knew that side of me and she brings that side out. 

Be. You. You do you and you'll be grand.

  • Don't go to the university or choose courses that you friends or your boyfriend or girlfriend are doing unless you really want to do that.. 
  • Go to university to study what you want to study. 
  • Research halls/dorms and see if they're a right fit for you.
  • Be yourself.
  • Keep your mind open to opportunities.

If you are starting or are returning university or college this year, I wish you all the best in your studies and your academic career. Keep 'er lit!


2 comments:

  1. You know, I really appreciated reading this because your experinces and your advices just made me feel much better about the choices I made a few days ago to finally follow my heart and continue to study something I love. Thanks a lot, really. I really enjoy reading your blog.

    Julie

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  2. That is so sweet of you. I'm so glad that you liked this post. I felt that I had to get it out and in the process, get it off my chest. Follow your heart and be brave. 'Shoot for the moons. If you fall, you'll land among the stars'. Thank you so much and best wishes in your study.

    ~ Kazzie x

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