Thursday, 13 September 2018

My Final Year of University: Pre Term Musings



Today, 14th September 2018, is the day I'm moving back to university for my final year of studying Fashion Communication and Promotion. I feel like I've shared so much of my university journey online, both through my yearly round up videos on YouTube and frequent tweets over the years, that it only felt right to acknowledge this final part of my education journey. I've got so many feelings brewing about going back into education after over 12 months away from it thanks to my placement year and long summer that I wanted to note down the good, the bad and the ugly emotions I have before I become inundated with deadlines  and library days all too soon again. 

I've always been someone who enjoys education, having never missed a piece of homework in school, to spending excessive amounts of time revising for my A level exams months before it was necessary, I suppose I've always been someone who takes pride in learning and my academic achievements. Moving to university was something I was hugely apprehensive about, and in the months leading up to my move it almost didn't feel real. I had only turned 18 a month before moving out and the whole concept of living without my family at a university over 3 hours from home was one I felt quite uneasy about. The different town, new subject I was going to be studying and entirely different people I would be mixing with culminated to me struggling hugely with my anxiety and eating disorder during my first year, mainly as these were the only aspects of my life I felt I had control over. I spoke online at the time about my mental health and the impact moving to university had, but it's only really in retrospect now that I can fully grasp the incredibly low point I was at- a feeling I thought I'd never be able to shake. I remember after my last lecture of the week I would go back to my halls, FaceTime my boyfriend, ring my mum, then my dad, then maybe a friend, and afterwards not have any more contact with another human until my next lecture the following week.



I truly felt I had no friends during that early period, despite offers of old friends coming to visit and regular Skype calls with those I missed, my anxiety completely took over and made me feel as though I wasn't able to accept offers of nights out, shopping days or brunches. I felt, and to be honest I was, totally on my own.

My first year of uni isn't a time I look back on fondly- for the most part I wished I could be anywhere but in Huddersfield. It's only now that I look back and wish that my younger self could have been just a little bolder and a little braver, but hey ho, there are so many lessons I learnt about myself and life in general through that year that it would almost feel wrong to change.

My second year was a million times easier (it honestly couldn't have been worse) and I made true friends for life. I explored the surrounding Northern cities more and fell in love with Leeds and Manchester, found a work / life balance I'd only dreamed of before, and felt myself beginning to let go of so many of the anxieties I once had surrounding uni. I moved into a house share and made a best friend for life in my room mate Ruby, spent hours watching Netflix together, doing our supermarket shop and singing to Little Mix. We walked to uni together, cooked dinner together, both cried and laughed together, and even attempted to navigate her driving to hospital with a broken thumb together. She transformed my university experience for the better and I'm forever in her debt for that.



And then, just as I finally felt I'd got into the swing of uni life, finally that I was a 'proper student' and worthy of my place at university ...... I had to move to London for my placement year. Talk about bad timing. 

The move from education into the workplace and crazy world of internships was a big leap- not really because of professionalism and attitude, because I feel my work ethic has always been something I've prided myself on, but mainly because now I really was a proper adult who worked a 9-6 job and only really had free time on the weekends. It had taken me so long to adjust to being a university student and all the things that come with it that it that the timing for moving to London and working 40+ hours a week felt so wrong.

I fell into the rhythm of interning quite quickly, with the fast pace and high expectations feeling similar to that of my fashion degree, yet there are of course so many differences between being a student and working full time that I'm now contemplating adjusting back to. It almost feels like a step backwards in my career prospects and future to be going back to uni- after all, I'd found a placement I truly loved and could have continued working at had I been a graduate, so to now head back to lectures, group projects and a dissertation feels so unnatural for the point I'm at in my life now. So many people have told me to treasure the time I have left as a student- something I undoubtedly will do as I know there are SO many perks that you just don't get as a fully fledged 'adult', but at the same time knowing uni has never really felt 100% 'me' is making the prospect of returning all the more difficult.



I know my final year of study will be so different from the first two, not only through the increased workload and stress that is awaiting me in a few weeks time, but also my living and social situation should immediately be different to the struggles I initially faced when I first became a student. I'm moving into a two bed apartment with one of my closest friends from my course which overlooks the most gorgeous park in Huddersfield, and the thought of decorating, cooking together and settling into my new home feels so so exciting. I know this last year is one I'll look back on and wish I could repeat in a few years time- after all, 2 days a week of lectures and otherwise free time to work and be productive is pretty much a dream schedule, I just simply can't help but feel a niggling worry at going back to a mentally difficult place I know I've felt at university before.

Moving away from Scott once more is also killing me inside. Living in London meant we were only an hour apart and we saw each other most weekends, making our long distance relationship feel more manageable and positive. Now the thought of going back to a 3 and a half hour train journey totalling over £50 and seeing each other just once a month is such a weight on my mind that I worry I'll be consumed by feelings of homesickness all over again. After a tough couple of months with both mental and physical health problems, he's absolutely been my rock in keeping me sane and healthy and I truly don't know where I'd be without him. The thought of being apart for so long is a really challenging one, but something I'm trying not to let cloud my vision of what will hopefully be a successful and exciting year of my life.

So that's how I feel right now. A whole mixture of emotions muddled into one, and something I'm not sure was even coherent for you to read. University will always feel a little strange for me- perhaps it was the wrong choice of city, mental health issues or simply bad experiences that have put me off, but I'm hoping my final year as a student is one I can cherish and enjoy. 



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