I was looking through my old photos and I found this panorama, taken of the Barbican on the day I moved to Plymouth. As September approaches, some of you will be reading this in the anticipation of moving to Plymouth and starting University soon. I remember that the weeks leading up to University were a big mix of nerves and excitement. Going on shopping trips to buy all the bits I needed, packing up all my stuff and seeing friends and family for the last time before moving away. It felt like a huge step, in an exciting way, but also in a quite daunting way.
I’d wanted to go to university for so long and that last year of A-Levels felt like I was just waiting to finally go. All of a sudden, September arrived and it was really happening! Looking back, I wish I didn’t worry as much as I did. It is completely normal to be nervous and I know everyone always says it but everyone is feeling exactly the same. I now look back and realise that moving to university was one of the best decisions I ever made. I thought I would make a list of the things that I would tell myself if I could go back to put my mind at ease.
1. Keep an open mind and go with a positive outlook.
You can worry lots like I did, but worrying won’t change what is going happen so you might as well keep an open mind and instead be excited for all the new experiences. Remember why you came to the University of Plymouth in the first place and what you want to get out of it. You are going to meet lots of likeminded people, do things you haven’t done before and face challenges of course, but worrying won’t help anything.
2. Don’t be intimidated by the thought of ‘University’.
I remember a lot of my friends and I were so worried about the whole concept of ‘university’. What are lectures? And seminars? Tutorials? Meeting course mates? But you quickly become adjusted to university life and the only real difference I would say in terms of education when compared to school is that it is a lot more independent. You have a lot of spare time (for my course, anyway, it’s not a set 9-3 day like school was) and it is your choice what to do with it. I loved the feeling of independence and being able to balance my time between doing work and being social. It takes a little while to adjust but you’ll get there!
3. Everyone is in the exact same boat.
Everyone reacts to change differently, so of course there will be people that don’t miss home at all, or people that go home frequently because they miss home a lot. It’s completely okay to miss home and wherever you turn I guarantee there will be someone who is feeling exactly the same.
4. Don’t put pressure on yourself to enjoy every single moment.
Like every experience, there will be good moments but there will also be moments you find hard too. For me, missing home and settling in seemed a bit tricky at times. The important thing to remember is that this is the case for everyone and although it may seem that people are having an amazing time 24/7, it’s guaranteed that everyone will have days that they find a bit tricky too.
I think there is a lot of pressure to make the first year of university the ‘best year of your life’ and the truth is that that might not be the case for everyone. I look back on my whole university experience so far and there is highlights from both years but also times that I found a little tough too. Enjoy yourself, but don’t feel pressured to be having the best time all the time and don’t feel like you can’t have a bit of a down day when you miss home too.
5. Make a checklist of all the things you need.
I’ll admit that I packed a lot of unnecessary stuff when I moved to university. I mean, I had A LOT of things. I wanted to make my room feel ‘at home’ so I more or less took everything from my room at home to put in my room at uni. Looking back, I soon realised that I didn’t need all of this stuff and I was going to gain stuff throughout the year anyway. Anything you forget to buy you can always buy once you’re in Plymouth. Be realistic and think of how much space you will actually have.
(I didn’t end up buying this huge plant but I was very tempted)
I hope this helped anyone who will be moving to Plymouth! Moving to university is a big mix of emotions – I was sad to leave home, but excited to move out, and at the same time sad to leave my friends but also excited to make new ones too! I wouldn’t have the confidence I have today without moving to University in Plymouth and I’ve honestly had the best time so far, so I hope everyone embarking on this new journey is excited.