To be frank, I grew up as an incredibly sheltered child. I was driven to and from school, had all my meals prepared by people who knew exactly what my brother and I liked to eat, and I’d never even thought about doing laundry. Ever. So landing in Exeter, I walked into halls with the knowledge that I’d have to do all these things myself, but the realization did not strike me until it was 10 PM, I was hungry, and I didn’t know what on earth I was supposed to do with the packet of pasta glaring at me from the counterpane.

I’d never even thought about doing laundry

That’s the quintessential Fresher’s horror story, but what they don’t tell you in said horror stories is that in a week, you’re the Gordon Ramsay of pasta, the Martha Stewart of folding laundry, and getting to campus on time? Usain Bolt could never. I did miss my family, but the whirlwind of friends and fun and parties and freshers hookups came to a crashing halt during deadline season when I got to understand that this was real and this was my life for the next three years (or, the next lifetime if you, like me, decide to stay in academia). There might be a crash for you in your first year, where you come to a low point mental health wise and perhaps even physical health wise, and it is important to know about all the support systems available, such as Nightline, the Wellness unit, and even your Residence Life Mentor.

Is university going to be the best years of your life? Perhaps. Perhaps you peak here at university, waltz out with a top class degree, a romantic partner that even the Brontes couldn’t dream up, and fifteen different sports medals. Or perhaps it will be just another journey in your life (or, series of journeys if you’re me with the thirteen hour flight), consisting of lovely friends and terrible ones, wonderful treats of GBK and microwaved Rustlers, days you sprint up Cardiac hill and days you want to roll down it like a lawnmower without a batter. The articles that talk about university being the best years of your life are clickbait – you’re not going to decide what exactly the best years of your life are until you’re five seconds away from dying, and you’re probably too late to write a Buzzfeed article about it then.

find your footing rather than aim to land feet first like the world’s most tenacious cat

What is university if not a life entirely separate yet connected to home? Late night calls with home friends and screaming at your mum that a gnat actually had the audacity to fly in through your open window. Perhaps a tip for first year is to find your footing rather than aim to land feet first like the world’s most tenacious cat; find the part of your course that you adore, and stick to it till you turn your dissy in. Find a group of friends that you can whinge to about your disgust towards Forum Hill, your anger at speeding cars while you’re trying to cross the road, the depressing departure of DJ Wilby, and so on and so forth. Try as many things as you can: try a politics society, try your hand at creative writing. Personally, I tried out an AU sport each year and figured out that whilst I may not become the next Mayweather any time, soon, the one thing that isn’t overhyped about uni is the sheer novelty of everything. Don’t lose your dazzled Freshery eyes no matter how much grizzled second years tease you – the novelty is the one blindingly amazing part of university.

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