Sunday, 17 July 2016

The 'Deen Scene:10 Things University Taught Me

A note from Joelle... 

♫♪'Where Are You Now?' - Honor Society ♫♪

After 4 wonderful years of this series, this is my final "'Deen Scene" blog post.
I have had this post gathering dust in my drafts folder for three months now. I was going to post it straight after my final exam (which turned out to be the best exam I've ever sat!), but then I chose to post it a month later after graduation - but I forgot. Now, a month after graduation, and a few revisions later... here it is!

For those who are new to my blog, I studied BSc Petroleum Geology at the University of Aberdeen for four years. I really loved the course, even though, at times I found it so exhausting and frustrating. 
I've been wanting to be a Geologist since the age of seven (I know), but even though I got on to Masters programmes and internships, I have decided to take a break and reconsider my career options.

1) You can change your degree course - Not feeling the degree you applied for? Act fast, because you've got about 2 weeks after lectures commence to have a word with your advisor if you are having doubts. Lots of people who were originally geographers switched to Geology and vice-versa, but it's down to YOU to seek advice and paperwork. Don't suffer in silence!

2) It's okay to feel a bit down about uni in general - what's not okay is bottling it up and self-imploding. It may look like everyone is having the best time in the first few months, but most people really are in the same boat. It's a HUGE change of life, as you've just moved into a new place, with new people and a new course, but wallowing away in your room and constantly calling home instead of mingling with other Freshers isn't the way to go.

3) Money management is tough, but rewarding - ...if you get it right through budgeting. I'm not joking, when you do your first uni shop and realise the true cost of cheese and loo roll, it will blow your mind. Also, when you leave halls and get a proper flat, you'll have to manage paying for bills (gas, electric, internet, phone, TV licence.). So staying on top of your finances is a plus. 
Got time? Get a job nearby.
Got too many clothes? Put them in blin liners and sell them to £1-1kg charity people. Pssst, 1 full bin liner = 10kg, so you could make a lot and do good at the same time.

4) Friends come and go - I learned this the hard way over the years, but I've finally learned to not take it too personally. Boy was this hard, so hard in fact that I wrote quite a damning blog post about it that pretty much everyone on my course read and talked about. The truth is, some the people you met on nights out or during Fresher's week will slowly fade away and that's okay because you'll meet others who you click with even more. The key is just to be open-minded and don't gravitate towards the people who you think will boost your graded or you social status - those "friendships" are doomed.

5) Joining societies is so worth it - I wasn't even going to go to the Fresher's and Sports Fayre before I was dragged along by a pal. But I'm glad I went and put my name down for loads of things (e.g. concert band, uni paper, ACS, Geog Soc). I tried to avoid ACS like the plague because I didn't feel African enough to be a part of it. But after a lovely girl called Amanda invited me to their karaoke social and stayed in touch, I realised that all my ignorance about it was ridiculous. Little did I know, I would be manning the ACS stall the very next year, gathering over 100 new names to our society!
Employers also like well-rounded people who actually bothered to do interesting stuff along with getting good grades, so even if it's for a few months, joining a society is a good idea.

6) There is help if you need it  - but this isn't school, you need to actively search and ask for help. This can be anything from financial, mental health and social issues. 

7) You are no better/worse than anyone else - Some people come to uni with a huge chip on their shoulder, or are very arrogant. Some turn up their noses at former state-school kids and others judge other's regional accents. It's all bullshit, but it's how some people deal with controlling their surroundings.
But here's the thing: you all ended up on the same course, in the same uni, so you're all the same regardless of where you came from or what grades you got.

7) Student cards are f*cking gold dust - USE IT!!!! You might think only getting £2.50 off of a jacket is crap, but these things really do add up. Always keep it in your wallet and ask the cashiers if they accept it. You can even get money off of phones, cinema tickets, theatre trips, food and much more. You'll miss it when it's gone!

8) Keeping physically active is vital - Long story short: I gained 2 stone in First Year because I lived opposite a chip shop and the uni's Sports Village was a tiring 10 minute walk away. The weight gain affected my confidence, my mental health and also my studies. I start to comfort eat to ease the pain of homesickness and the tricky courses I was taking and it turned into a vicious cycle.
And to make things worse, my degree required me to go on about 2/3 residential field trips per year. This included about 10 hours of fieldwork, climbing up hills, cliffs, slanted beaches in heavy gear. Carrying all that extra weight took it's toll mainly in Second Year, and that's when I realised I needed to get a student membership and start spinning. 
2 and a half years, later and I am still spinning and am fitter than I have ever been! My grades went up because I wasn't tired and sluggish and I found a new love for my body.

9) You'll learn to be more independent - It's amazing. As I was 800 miles north of my hometown, I had no choice but to be independent - I was thrown into the deep end head-first. First off was all the solo plane rides. After that fear was conquered (I've flown solo about 50 times now), it's onto shopping, cooking and doing all your washing for yourself. These, obviously, are important life skills that we all need to learn if we are to be fully functioning adults in this world.
My one piece of advice would be NOT to stay at home if you're going to uni. Yeah, I know it's not possible for everyone, but if you can, do! 
It's not the same if you stay with your parents, because you are less likely to experience new-found independence and the joys that come with it.

10) You'll get through it and move on to better things - Mate, I really did not enjoy my third and first term of Fourth year, but I saw the bigger picture: a science degree from a good uni, that will lead to a good job. There were nights in the library where I couldn't see the end. I wanted to quit and catch the next flight home, but I chose to get through it and not run away from my issues.
I still can't believe I graduated and did it as a person who is no longer socially anxious, chronically shy, emotionally unstable or afraid of the future or failure.

I changed for the better, got through it and so will you. You'll be just fine, kid.

I have written loads on uni life and you can find out more brutal honesty in the link below:
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