Wednesday, 24 August 2011

"Help! I don't Drink!"

Another thread I keep seeing on TSR is from people starting Uni soon who don't drink (for whatever reason).

Here is all the advice you really need if you're a fellow teetotal person:

Nobody is going to notice !!!

Seriously, honestly and based on personal experience - you will be fine! 

I know that Uni (fresher's week especially) gets portrayed as a kind of booze-soaked orgy with occasional breaks to attend lectures in a dishevelled and hungover state, but the only part of this that's in any way compulsory is the lectures! 

There were a number of events last fresher's week (and afterwards) that weren't exactly my sort of thing - dubstep and r&b nights, pub crawls, cocktail nights, traffic light parties (which *terrify* me, even now!) so I didn't go. This isn't a stubborn refusal to try new things - I just saw things elsewhere that interested me more! I went out in town, went to see bands that sounded more like my sort of thing, had nights out in nearby cities (Derby and Leicester are both easy to get to from Nottingham) and went to less drink-centric uni events like campus tours (very useful!). 

So what about the rest of the year? If you're a non-drinker, you're not confined to spend every evening locked away in your room or stuck in the library (although both of these are a good idea now and then to get some actual work done!) I love exploring the local area - on foot or by bus. It might be finding someone who knows the area a little better to show you interesting things nearby, or there's always the internet if you're surrounded by other new people! 
You don't have to *only* go to uni-run events either - after your lectures, you're free to go where you like! I'm a big music fan, so looking up local gigs seemed a logical place to start! As much as I like my uni-mates, I've found it useful to have some local non-uni mates as well. Even if the people on your course are great fun, it's nice to have some variety so you're not with the same people all day and all night! 

But what if people try to talk me into drinking?
Easy. Say "no thanks!". If they continue to put pressure on you - walk away. You don't have to do anything you don't want to, and if people can't respect that, they don't sound like great people to be hanging around with. Universities are rarely short of people - you can make other (better!) friends elsewhere. 
Since being at uni, nobody has so much as questioned why I don't drink - it's not a big deal! They have their drink and I have mine - the conversation carries on regardless of what happens to be in my glass! 

Monday, 22 August 2011

"Help! I'm Old!"

I've been reading through TSR again recently and found a lot of threads I can really relate to:

I'm starting Uni this year and I'm 20 - what are people going to think?

I'm 25 and want to live in halls - will they allow this? Will people think I'm weird?

Last year, that's pretty much what I was thinking too. When I started last year (and moved into halls) I was 25 and worried how I'd get along with everyone else. The simple answer is "pretty well".

Classes and Lectures
These are the easy bits. In lectures, there is usually a sea of people there and you're pretty much just a face in the crowd. Just sit down, shut up and pay attention! Similar thing in classes really - nobody is going to care how old you are because (if they have any sense) they'll be paying more attention to the class. In both cases I wasn't the oldest person there by a long shot. I know all courses will be different, but there were a number of older students in most lectures I went to and nobody paid any real attention to this.

Making friends/Social stuff
Again - not a big deal. The trick is to talk to any and everyone! Worried you'll have nothing in common with your coursemates? Well, you're all at uni - that's a good start! My uni mates are a mixture of people much younger than me and other mature students (my age and older) and they're all surprisingly similar once you get talking! The only time my age came up at any point was during a conversation about 21st birthday parties and I pointed out that mine was a few years ago. Their reaction? "Oh... cool. So anyway...." and that was it. The thing to remember is that it's only going to be a big deal if you make it one!

Another thing I've seen worrying my fellow mature students is the question of living in halls. Personally, I loved it so much I'm going back into halls this year. Yes, it can be a bit noisy, but most of the people there are fairly reasonable and will shut up if you ask! For me, halls are a massive help! They're close to where I need to be, so there's no massive commute every day (just a short bus ride or relaxing walk!) and they're catered which means no washing up! That frees up a LOT of extra time!
As for being the oldest in halls, that wasn't a problem for me. The halls I was in had people from all years (including a few postgrad students) so I wasn't the oldest and just kind of blended in and got on with it. I've heard that some halls try to group older/mature/postgrad students together in one part of the hall, away from younger students - but I couldn't advise on which halls do this (TSR is the place to ask though! Someone will know how to find out!)
If you think you might be the only older student in halls (unlikely, but possible!) I think all you can do is front it out. Don't make it in to an issue - nobody else is likely to. If you do end up with any hassle because of it, halls have staff who are there to sort these problems out - talk to them.

Whatever you do, don't let age get in the way if you want to go to university! So far, it's been the best decision I've made - I had a fantastic year and can't wait to start the next one. Based on my own experiences, I'd encourage anyone else who is considering it to go ahead and at least try uni - preferably by jumping in with both feet and not giving a damn what anyone else thinks of them for it!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

It's that time again!

Getting very excited about going back to Uni, even if it is a whole month away!

Student Finance
Finally got my letter confirming that I can get my loan! Scary stuff waiting for that... Student Finance seem to get worse every year - I know plenty of other people that still haven't got theirs sorted!

Geeking Out
Looking forward to next year FAR too much! Can't wait to get started on planning my time and making a start on my work! I was thinking about getting a new filofax (the one I use at the moment is amazing, but considering getting a slightly larger one) but can't find one I really like. Got my timetables through - tempted to start planning them out already!  I'm terrible about the things I use, so looking forward to buying things like new folders for next year... I'm fussy about what feels "right" to use!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Almost next year!

I've been relaxing a lot over the summer, so not much to write about here! But here's the updates:

Student Finance
Oh, this has been a nightmare! They kept sending me offer letters for £0 for next year. Not happy about that at all! Many angry phone calls later, I have a sensible offer of money for next year - only got the forms through today, so they were signed and sent back straight away! 

Exam Results!
I've got no intention of putting my actual results up here because that tends to encourage competitive people and I honestly don't think education ever benefits from being a competition. I'm very happy with my results from last year though - room for improvement, but I know what I need to focus on now! I think that's the most important thing I learned over the past year - how to get my work done!

Next Year
Looking forward to starting again already! September can't come quickly enough for me! I miss being at uni, I miss lectures and seeing people, I miss having my little routines and most of all, I miss living in Nottingham! I'm stuck in the wilds of the Peak District for another month (Which people keep telling me is a good thing. These are usually people who are unaware of how horribly allergic I am to everything here... Feels like I haven't breathed properly since July!)  and can't wait to get out!

Hoping I get to stick with the modules I chose for the next two terms... Autumn I have "Ancient Art In Context" and "Greeks and Barbarians: Connected Histories" to look forward to. I love art and really like the lecturer we're going to have for that course, and the connected histories module sounds very useful - I'd like to know more about Ancient Greek relations with other cultures.

I've decided to stay in halls again this year. It seems so much easier! The halls I'm in are catered, so I don't need to cook (or wash up!) and they're in a really convinient location for me to get into Uni whenever I need to! I've heard a lot of Universities only let you stay in halls for your first year, but Nottingham actually seem to encourage students to stay in halls after their first year - which I like a lot!