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University. The word can send chills through some people evoking fear of the unknown, but for others it can send sparks of excitement about freedom. Or if you were like me, it was a little bit of both, often going from one extreme to the other. This is me in the picture with a kangroo that I met whilst doing my Study Abroad placement. The thing is with university, is it isn’t all that scary…well for the most part.

 

 

Myth 1 - Friends: I won’t have any friends / I’ll find it hard to meet people and make new friends / If I commute it’ll be harder for me to make friends

This is a completely normal thought to have, however it won’t be the case! The amazing thing with university is the opportunity to almost reinvent yourself, and within that process surround yourself with people you want to be friends with. In high school you often become friends with the people that you sit in lessons with every day, so getting your university timetables with a lot less contact time can therefore seem terrifying.

Chester gives you so many opportunities to make friends, and especially in first year, you’ll probably find you will have different sets of friends. You’ll have course friends - the ones you sit with during lectures, the ones in your team for group work, the ones that you will stress about assignments with, etc. You’ll have the friends who live in the same accommodation as you and will often become your substitute family. If you are commuting, then you won’t have what I call ‘hall friends’ as accommodation won’t be part of your university life but you will make friends with fellow commuters, who you will bond with over the struggles of getting in for 9ams and dealing with road rage at rush hour. The final set of friends is in the other category. This category could mean different things for different people, for example it could be friends you’ve made through joining a sport team or societiy, or friends you’ve made through volunteering or a part-time job.

During the first couple of weeks, Chester provides so many opportunities for socialising and making friends - after all, this is one of the most important aspects of university life, and honestly… they will be what help you get through your degree.

Myth 2 - Workload: University is going to be so much harder than school or college, I don’t know if I can do it / how will I fit all the studying and reading in? / I’ve never studied this subject before I’m going to be so behind

The truth? University is a step up from A-levels/college, however the great thing about first year is that for Chester especially, the first year is sort of like a practice year, as it doesn’t count towards your final degree classification. This is done so that you can ease yourself into a different way of learning, because honestly that’s all university is. University isn’t so much a case of being harder, but just a different style of learning and teaching than what you might have been used to. The lecturers are aware of this, and they support you to become independent in your studies, whilst also providing guidance when needed. The reading is always recommended but never checked up upon, so if you don’t do it, they won’t know, but it could make grasping a concept in the next lecture a little harder.

Additionally, the first year is also spent getting everyone to the same level, so that it ultimately won’t matter whether you’ve never studied the subject before, or you think you know it all, because by the end of the year everyone will be on the same level playing field and will be on track with the appropriate level of knowledge.

Myth 3 - Drinking: Everyone at university drinks/ I won’t be able to keep up with everyone/ I won’t make friends because I’m not a fan of alcohol

Again, this is not true. Whilst drinking is seen to be part of the university culture, a lot of universities are starting to slowly move away from it, because they’re realising that not everyone drinks. Chester Students Union (CSU), is currently working on a project, with the hope that by 2020, at least 50% of the university run activities will be alcohol free.

Regardless of whether you’re a fan of drinking or not, it doesn’t matter, because at the end of the day everyone should be mature enough to accept your decision on drinking, and not pressure you into doing something that you don’t want to do. Also, just because you don’t drink, doesn’t mean you can’t still go out with them to the pub or to the club, you can still have just as much fun as everyone else while sober, and it also means you get to make them re-live all their drunken antics the following morning! However, if drinking is your thing, there are plenty of opportunities for that also with cocktail bars, pubs, Student’s Union and clubs at the ready.

Myth 4 - Parents: My parents will call or text me all the time/ I’m worried I’ll upset my parents if I move away / what happens when I get homesick? / My parents will constantly check up on me and it’ll ruin the experience

Your parents may call or text you a lot in the first month or so, because they’re worried about you, but also because they miss you, especially if you’re the first, only or last sibling to move away. But you’ll probably also find that you’ll call or text them a lot too, partly because you miss them, but also because for the most part, it’s likely to be  the first time you’ve properly lived away from your parents, which means you’ll have a lot of questions for them about adulting. They’ll be questions about washing clothes, removing stains, if food is okay past its expiry date and help with decision making if you’re indecisive. Its all normal, and a lot of people find that they talk to their parents more when they left home, than when they were living at home.

Going to university is a great opportunity to gain your independence. It allows you to make your own rules about your life, from when you study, to when you eat dinner. It is an opportunity to start doing ‘adulty’ things whilst still being semi-sheltered by the student status and your parents or other family members.

Myth 5 - Money: I won’t be able to afford to live/ my student loan doesn’t cover everything / I won’t be able to get a part-time job / my parents can’t support me

Money. The topic that no one likes to talk about but is always on our mind. As a student, money is always an issue, but there are ways to make it less of one. You will have a student loan that you will need to manage and learn to live within your budget, but there are other ways to overcome feeling restricted. Firstly, part-time jobs are a do-able thing. You will have more than enough time to work part time whilst at university, and although you’ll need to carefully manage your time, it’s still possible to have a part-time job and get good grades. The flexibility and freedom of what you do with your time means it is totally acceptable to do a late-night supermarket run to scope out bargains - sometimes shopping little and often can be beneficial to cut down on waste when you’re not sure on your plans for the week! Sometimes a trip to Weatherspoons for a cheap dinner with your friends is a must from a social perspective.

 

So, if you want to visit the University of Chester to see why university isn’t so scary, then book on to our upcoming Open Day or email visitus@chester.ac.uk.

 

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