First time round, I thought I knew what I was doing. Or at least pretended I did. I strolled through the streets of central London as a newly enrolled King’s College student, channeling confidence but feeling lost. It was less to do with location and more to do with the fact that until then, university hadn’t been what I thought it would be. Born in London, and having lived there all my life, the city seemed familiar – too familiar. I was meeting people from all over the world, thrilled by the prospect of studying in the heart of the UK’s capital. Their excitement only increased my own dissatisfaction, and I soon realised that a city university, but more specifically a university in London, wasn’t for me.
I quickly learned how accessible everything was, and started to love the campus bubble for it.
Second time round, I accepted that I had no idea what I was doing, and I realised that that was okay. As I accustomed myself to my new surroundings – a welcomed process following the lack of a fresh start in my first attempt – I became content with my new home at Warwick. Staying in one of the halls closest to the centre of campus, I quickly learned how accessible everything was, and started to love the campus bubble for it. Passing hundreds of faces as I made my way to my seminars, which took no more than a five-minute walk, I noticed the advantages that a campus university offered.
Having come to Warwick knowing no one, I also learnt how easy it was to meet new people, and how important it would be later to have made that effort early on. New flatmates can quickly become friends, and these friends can eventually become family, if you’re lucky, and if you let them. After all, moving away from home for university means just that, moving away from everyone you know and learning to establish an entirely new network from scratch.
I learned that independence was as much a mindset as it was a lifestyle change.
As daunting as this may be, it also comes with the appeal of being able to start from scratch. Essentially, you have the opportunity to learn the craft of bettering yourself; whether that’s coming out of your shell a bit more by joining a society or learning a new skill. Personally, I tried to better myself by giving the whole independence thing a go. For the first few weeks, I told myself that being away from my parents and on my own was enough, or at least a start. But I quickly learned that independence was as much a mindset as it was a lifestyle change.
The truth is, I’m still trying to get into that mindset. I’ve now finished my second year and am still learning and discovering new things. I still haven’t mastered the art of cooking, for instance, but I’ve given it a go under the guidance of friends. I still don’t know what I want to do after this is all over, but I’ve found some new passions and discovered that there are many different doors. It’s just a matter of figuring out which is the right one to open next.
It’s in your own hands at the end of the day, and not just in terms of what you choose to study.
Overall, it’s difficult to summarise university into just a few words, or generalise it into just one article. It’s an experience that is unique to what you make of it. I guess you could say that that’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned at Warwick, that university is what you make of it. It’s in your own hands at the end of the day, and not just in terms of what you choose to study. Albeit short, my experience at King’s taught me that sometimes university is not everything you thought it would be. But that’s okay, because again, it’s in your own hands. I chose to make a decision that, at the time, was a risk. But it paid off, and I’ve realised that in order to learn from your mistakes, you have to accept them. Furthermore, you have to try and make your peace with the fact that every choice you make from here on out has the potential to turn into a mistake. But at this point, you can afford to make them, because nothing is set in stone. It’s all an ongoing process that, again, remains in your hands.