My Uni Experience - from Drab to Fab!

I realise this blog post is a tad delayed but life's been busy since I got my freedom! But I wanted to document this for some kind of closure...

I've finished my degree! What?! Honestly, it seems like yesterday that I was a little fresher who spent her first night of Freshers' Week sat in her flat by herself watching Friends whilst all the other newbies went out clubbing. Out of choice, I must add (alcohol is not ma thing).

It was definitely a rocky start. I was quite homesick in first year and because it was too expensive for me to fly home to Guernsey regularly, I spent a lot of time staying with my aunty and uncle in Surrey - they became my second parents. You know when you just want to be around family? It was that, and I was so grateful to have some company.

First year wasn't good. I quickly came to realise that my course wasn't all that it was made out to be, and it was sooo disappointing. And a waste of money. It was right up until the end to be honest. I nearly packed it in at the end of my first year (but oh my gosh I'm so SO glad I didn't). The other thing was that because I'm not your typical uni go-er/social butterfly, nights out weren't a part of my life and I found it difficult to mix with people who were these kinds of people. I felt awkward and uncomfortable and really freakin' lonely. I tried joining a few clubs/societies but didn't enjoy them, and I only had one good friend on my course (thank goodness for you, Andrew). I spent most of my time in my teeny little room in student halls. I went to uni and back, town and back, and that was pretty much the extent of my adventures in Bournemouth.

Things changed a little when I had to start looking for people to live with in my second year. I met a group of gals via the magic of Facebook. Being in the same position of not having anyone to house-share with, we all threw ourselves together and hoped for the best. We met up a few times towards the end of our first year, and I felt more hopeful that second year would be better and that I'd actually have some friends (yay!). Although I felt apprehensive about carrying on with my useless uni course, I made the decision to stick it out - it would get better in second year, right?

Well it didn't. In fact, in terms of the course itself, the second year was probably the worst of the three. But my uni lifestyle improved by a mile from September 2015 onwards. Living with my newfound house gals was a million times better than halls and although the house we lived in was rather....err....awful....we made the best of it. It was good fun, and I felt so much more free! Having my car was the main contributing factor to this feeling of freedom - I could go anywhere and everywhere, doing a food shop was suddenly a whole lot easier (didn't have to lug carrier bags on/off buses or walk home with them) and I visited my UK family a lot more (my newborn baby niece and big sister, my aunties and uncles and cousins). Also, my parents bought a second house in Exeter so that meant I was able to see them more often as they go and stay there every few weekends. I loved being able to drive myself 2 hours down the A35 to stay in our new second family home.

I think that my second year of uni was a bit of a turning point - my attitude towards my course changed from "this is stupid and I hate it and I want to leave" to "this is rubbish but I'll get a degree and actually this lifestyle is pretty great". The course (and the 10 lectures we had throughout the whole year - you think I'm exaggerating) was really only a small part of my life and I started to absolutely loooove living in the UK (something this Guernsey girl never thought she'd ever say!). In December/January of second year, it was that point again where I had to find people to live with in my final year as the girls I was living with at the time were all going off to do a placement year. I was worried again - I had no other friends, what would I do?! But these things have a way of working themselves out and this time was no different. My school friend Jaymee had started at the same uni that September and asked if I wanted to live with her and her halls flatmate Jasmine. And Jasmine had a friend on her course called Nicky who also was looking for housemates. So once again, we formed a little group, got to know each other a bit, acknowledged that we were all reasonably nice human beings and found a house. Except that it was a 5-bed, and there were only four of us. But we loved it, we loved it!! So we posted on Facebook (good ol' Facebook again) advertising for another girl to join us. And alas, we found Amy!

And oh my goodness, I cannot tell you how much I love these girls. I actually feel a little tearful right now thinking about them (I blame the Ed Sheeran music playing the background as I type this). We're all quite different in some ways, but in others we are so similar and we just clicked and gelled and became best friends. We moved in together in September 2016, into our lovely little house with its bright mint green walls and doors (although now I don't ever want to look at the colour again - honestly is it really necessary to paint all the doors green?!). We have had the most amazing year living together. Night after night snuggled up on the sofa watching crappy TV. Ah, who am I kidding, we do that in the daytime too. Many a movie night. Many a game of Giant Jenga and Don't Show Keith Your Teeth (if you watch Celebrity Juice you'll probably love this game as much as we do), many a roast dinner and a brisk morning walk.

So my final year has been the best of the three. Uni wasn't toooo bad this year as we had a lot of creative freedom with our work after Christmas. Everything else has been a dream. Having my baby sister nearby at Southampton uni has been so much fun, as has seeing my big sis and my once-a-newborn-now-a-crazy-toddler niece, going for walks and drives and adventures, having Big Nights In (that's what our house do instead of going on a night out - it involves a lot of food, music, games and deep conversations), having baking days and Pancake Sundays.
It's been the best year of my life. OH how cliché, but heck I've been so happy and had so much fun.
I couldn't ask for better girls to have lived with, and we're like a little family. We even got ourselves a house dog, Toffee (well, we borrow him for cuddles).

This whole going to uni thing was never something on my agenda when I was at school, and a few months into it I wondered if I'd made the right decision. But I can honestly say that what I didn't learn on my course I made up for in the lifestyle itself - being independent, living in England, driving in England, traveling by train (it's a big deal when you've grown up on a 7x5 mile island). And I've taken great pleasure in my weekly Sainsbury's shop, discovering new places to visit (I didn't even know that England could be beautiful), cooking for myself and actually enjoying it, working for different companies in my spare time producing content, starting and expanding my wedding videography business, and spending hours and hours in Primark just because I can. To sum up - I have frickin' loved it!

I finished uni on Friday 19th May, three weeks ago. It was a good day, but it was weird. Like, so weird! Walking out of the campus knowing I'd never be going back, completing an assessment knowing that I'd never have to hand anything in ever again, thinking 'what do I do with my life now?'.

Andrew and I had a final uni breakfast (having breakfast post-lectures - sometimes even mid-lectures - became a bit of a tradition) and then headed straight to Bournemouth Beach with a packet of balloons and my camera to take these photos. It was such a weird mix of sadness and pure joy!

Then it was a bit of anticlimax because I went and got a double ear infection and so I spent the next two weeks screaming in pain, not eating and barely leaving the house. Great way to end my degree *sarcastic thumbs up*.

The five of us girls are never going to live together again and I am heartbroken - genuinely. It ain't gonna feel right. It's only been 9 months - why can't it be longer? Why does it all have to be over so soon?! But we did our Last Supper in the right way - a roast dinner and a game of 'How Well Do We Know Eachother?' (you know the one that they play in Friends when they're arguing over Monica's apartment - yeah I was that bored that I made our own version).

At the end of this month, I'll be moving back to Guernsey for the foreseeable future to start a job in web design and continue to film weddings. I feel so many mixed emotions about moving back there (at one point, I point-blank refused to ever live there again) but I know this is the right thing for me at the moment and when you live in a house virtually on the beach and have a sea-view bedroom, life can't really be too bad can it?! It'll be good for me, I think, to be back and ground again. But I'll miss driving at more than 35mph (driving in Guernsey isn't really driving) and I'll miss ordering a Domino's every week (probs shouldn't admit to that). It's just really flipping great that we have a house in the UK too, and that lots of my family and friends will still be there to put me up for the night when I decide that island life is just too claustrophobic. I'm fairly sure I'll need to hop on a flight to England at least two weekends a month just to keep myself sane.

So that's that - my uni experience over. For anyone who's struggling at uni (perhaps like me, your course isn't great, or you feel lonely, or it's just not as good as you expected it to be), know that it can get better and it might be worth seeing through. Get yourself some great housemates, do what you want to do (don't, for example, feel pressured into going out all the time and being a typical student, if you'd feel more comfortable sat in your pj's at home with a rom-com) and try and get out about, explore your uni hometown, go for walks and days out and make it your life rather than your 'uni life'. Make the most of it all, because before you know it, it'll be over. I suppose good things always have to come to an end don't they? :(

I also just want to take this opportunity to say a huge, great big, gigantic, love-filled THANK YOU to everyone who has encouraged me to stick uni out and has contributed in any way to me having a fab time. Love ya.