Five life lessons I've learnt at University

It's such a cliche that university is supposed to be a "life experience". But, it really is true. Without university I would not be the person I am today. University has taught me many things other than the course I study, personal lessons that I will carry into the rest of my life. Here are five life lessons university has taught me so far.

1. I am me

I feel like I've been a big advocate of being who you want to be. University has emphasised that for me. I am me and nothing else.

When I left home for university, I so clearly remember how I felt in the car journey. I was excited about what the next chapter of my life would entail, but I was also so nervous that I felt my stomach churning. Nervous about meeting new people, what they'd think of me, whether or not I'd have nice flatmates or even whether I'd make friends.

Turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Because, I couldn't be anything more than just being myself. If people liked me, then friendships would develop, if not then better people would come along. I met hundreds of people within the space of fresher's fortnight and I felt at the time overwhelmed by it all. But out of those hundreds, I found a small group of people that I would consider life friends. I feel like they accept me because I'm just myself. More about this later, but I appreciate this so much.

2. Admitting when I need help is absolutely fine

This is something that I've learnt both in academia and in my personal life. Before going to uni, if I ever felt that I needed help with something, I would never ask for it because I believed that I would be annoying someone.

I have since learnt that cliche of "sharing a problem, halves the problem". But it's true. In university I do a technical based course so if I'm stuck with something, lecturers or my friends will usually help.

In my personal life too, I have learnt that asking for help from someone is absolutely fine. I'm lucky that I have supportive and caring family and friends that I can rely on if ever I'm in need.

3. Being away from home makes me appreciative of my family

Living away from home for the first time was certainly daunting. Doing my own cooking and cleaning was something that came as a bit of a shock for me, because, I'll be honest, I relied on my parents to do this when I was at home.

Doing all these things by myself  and being away from them made me realise how appreciative I am of my family, and how much they love and support me. If ever i'm in need of anything, my family are there which is just great.

4. Routine and structure keeps me healthy

This is something that I have learnt recently. I'm on my placement year at the moment, so I'm working full time as part of my studies. For the first time in my university experience I have a set routine and I've realised that having a clear structure of getting up and going to bed at a certain times keeps me healthy.

It wasn't so bad second year, but first year I didn't feel healthy, both physically and mentally. I had no structure to anything; I would go out drinking pretty much three times a week, every week; go to uni hungover at random times of the day and do nothing for the rest of the time. I felt drained and I felt my head wasn't in the right place for some of the year. But I suppose, that is what first year is all about; finding out what you can cope with, with all the freedom that has just been given to you.

I can see that it can be easy to not have a structure at uni because timetables are never really consistent and doing fun things with your friends is quite a big part of the university lifestyle. Having said that, I think that next year for my final year I will try my hardest to get myself into a routine, because this year I feel so much healthier in my physical and mental health.

5. Genuine friendship is the thing that I most value in life

This is something that I've always known, and university has again emphasised this. Leaving my group of friends from home was one of the hardest things about going to university, not seeing my best friends every week was something that I hated the idea of.

But, university has made me value them even more. Because, when I come home, its so nice to see them and talk as if we haven't been apart.I also got to meet the most amazing, genuine people at university. I feel so lucky that I was given the most amazing flatmates in first year. To me, they are my second family and I would not change them for the world. We have lived with each other both first and second year and we're going to live together for final year next year, I cannot wait. I also have my seminar group, who are just awesome. We all just click and I'm so appreciative of them.

Friendships are so important to me, so if we are close then thank you so much for being there.

Adam Hale