Today I submitted my last ever undergraduate assignment. After weeks of being cooped up behind my laptop, turning down social gatherings to work on essays and spending my evenings either at the gym or walking my dogs, it feels surreal to actually be finished. I don’t know what do do with myself! I thought handing it in would make me feel instantly ecstatic – and of course, I am so incredibly pleased that it’s done – but I actually just felt tired. I wanted to curl up in a little ball and sleep for one hundred years. I think it’s just a release of all my worries and woes and it feels so strange that my university experience is over. That’s three whole years complete – and they’ve gone past in a blink of an eye.
I was always so excited to go to university. I always knew I wanted to go to Cardiff University to study journalism and I worked hard to get there. I got A*AB in my A Levels and was accepted at Cardiff and I honestly couldn’t wait for the experience to begin! I had visions of myself living in a little flat overlooking the city and working on assignments late into the night. I went home shopping with my mum and my family bought me lovely gifts to put in my bedroom, and as the summer drew to close it was time to head off. My student life couldn’t have been any different to my expectations.
I still vividly remember the day my mum dropped me off at halls. We set up my bedroom, went food shopping and for a nice meal and then my mum drove off sobbing and I went to meet my flat mates. We all got dressed up for our first night of Freshers and headed to Glam with the flat next door and some other friends. I instantly fell in love with the Cardiff night life and was excited for the years ahead. However, that weekend I decided to head home for the day to see my family and boyfriend. I only live an hour away from Cardiff and I thought that going home for a quick break would be a good idea. In reality, it was such a huge mistake. I went back to Cardiff that night and whilst we were partying in the Student’s Union all I wanted to do was be home in familiar surroundings. I remember having a sudden, strange feeling in the pit of my stomach and I felt like I was going to either burst into tears or throw up. I think that short visit back home was what kicked off my terrible homesickness.
The first few weeks of university were strange. I could see everyone adjusting to this new student lifestyle and I hated it. I remember walking into town one day to meet my auntie and cousins who had come to Cardiff for a day of shopping and then leaving them and crying all the way back to halls. Another time I remember ringing every member of my family begging them to pick me up because I wanted to leave so badly. I would go to lectures and come home feeling sick with dread. I would live for nights out where I would be able to block out the homesickness, but the next day I would be so hungover and would miss home even more. I counted down the hours, minutes and seconds to the weekend when I could escape and go home, but my family persuaded me to stay until Christmas time and if I really wanted to leave after the first term I could.
January came and I worked hard for my exams. I’m no quitter and as I really enjoyed my course I gave the exams my all and came out with high 2:1 and a first! I think this was a turning point and I realised that maybe I was meant to be there. While I didn’t get on with my flatmates – firstly because they left the kitchen like a bombsight and secondly because they didn’t understand why I wanted to go home all the time – I made good friends from the flat next door and my course and I kept busy by going to the gym and the library to study and eventually first year came to an end and I finished with a high 2:1!
The second year was pretty much the same. I moved into a house of six girls and instantly realised this was a huge mistake. I’m quite a lonesome person and generally like my own company. My father also works abroad so most of the time it’s just my mum, brother and I in the house so moving into a house with five completely different people with different ways of living was a huge shock. Team that with the fact that my mum is the biggest clean freak you will ever meet and the girls just didn’t mind living in a complete mess and you’ll understand my predicament. Nevertheless I plodded on, still living for the weekends, and continued to work hard and to develop more friendships with the people on my course. I was so lucky to be studying a course that I really liked.
While my homesickness wasn’t as bad in the second year, it was still very much present. A lot of the time I felt lonely and I couldn’t wait for the term to be over. I moved out at Easter to be back home and out of my tiny, pokey room in a small house filled with mess and too many people. After a rocky start in second year I pulled up my grades and felt like this reaffirmed my love for journalism. I also felt like all the drama in the second year of uni really made me a stronger person. I was no longer an unconfident wimp and I started to stand up for myself and to take more opportunities thrown my way.
I vowed that the third year would be different and it really was. I moved in with two of my friends form home into a cute little house and loved it! Admittedly I still came home most weekends but I was generally calmer, happier and for the first time in three years I felt content. I worked hard on my assignments, grew closer to people on my course, spent time with friends and just generally didn’t feel that overwhelming need to be home with my family. I think I really grew up in the last year and I started to really love university. I thoroughly enjoyed my chosen modules and looked forward to lectures, I felt motivated to work hard and I made some amazing, hilarious memories on nights out with friends who I hope I will always stay in contact with. It’s really made the whole experience worthwhile.
I guess the reason I felt such an urge to write about my experience is because I am sure there are lots of young people in the same predicament as me, who feel homesick and find it difficult to adjust to such a different lifestyle. People look at university life through tainted vision and, while most people absolutely love it, there are a lot of people out there who struggle. It also didn’t help at the fact that people looked down on me for wanting to be home all of the time. My flatmates would be baffled when they saw me with my suitcase ready to catch the train home again, people in my hometown would see me and say ‘oh you’re home again, then?’ and people found it so weird that I just found it so difficult. I want to tell people who are struggling that it’s okay. Everyone is different and you really will get through it. I would encourage those with a love for the subject they are studying to stick to it because it will really be worth it in the end!
I often felt I had ‘wasted’ my time at uni. I had such high expectations and for the most part I just wanted to run away. However, writing this post has made me realise that my uni experience was worthwhile and has taught me so much. I’ve become confident and am willing to take on any opportunities. I’ve met an amazing group of people who I will never forget. It’s made me a stronger, independent person who feels motivated and inspired to be the best person I can be. I will also have a degree in journalism, which is a subject I truly love and something I have always dreamed of!
Now that my whole degree is complete I’m really excited to see what will happen in the next three years! I have secured myself a place on a MA Magazine Journalism course that I have wanted to do since I started university, so will be staying in Cardiff for another year come September. From there I dream of working in fashion and beauty journalism and would love to go to London to work – even if it’s only for a short time. I know this is odd for someone who has been so homesick but I feel really determined to take any opportunity that life throws at me. I will always return to my little hometown, but uni has taught me that I can do these things I’ve always dreamed of and that I’m not as much of a scaredy-cat as I thought I was!
Here’s to the next chapter!
Lots of love,