Since my younger sister is leaving for university in just over a month I’ve been reminiscing (mainly to myself) about how much has changed and how different I was when I left home to do the same thing almost four years ago. With those memories in mind I thought I’d write a letter of sorts to my 18 year old self, or perhaps to my sister, of things I wish I’d known, things I needn’t have worried about and a few tips about being away from home and finally becoming yourself.
Let’s start with a few tips:
- Find time to do some exercise. If you join the gym and stick to it – congrats! If the gym isn’t your thing, grab a friend and go for a jog or a swim… if that’s still not doing the trick maybe try a Zumba workout video on YouTube, trust me, there are plenty of them.
- Make sure you always have a couple of cans of soup, some milk, something with carbs and toilet paper available – for the days you’re too lazy to leave the house.
- Once you’ve learnt your alcohol limit, remember it. Being the hot mess is fine once or twice but don’t make a habit of it; it’s not fun for the people looking after you.
- At the start, skype will be your best friend for talking to people you’ve left behind at home and that’s great, it’s nice to talk to a familiar face. Don’t feel bad if you start to use it less and less though, your family may be wondering where you are but it’s better for you if you’ve got more important things to be doing!
- Write letters to your friends whether they’re at home or at other universities because it’s always exciting to get post and it’ll give you something to look forward to. It’s nice to look back on them too and laugh about the kind of things you spoke about.
- Finally, you can do whatever you want whenever you want, don’t forget that! Go to the cinema at midnight or order pizza at 3am – have fun! (Believe me; you’ll miss that when you’re living back at home…).
Right, let’s go through a few things that you don’t need to worry about. Honestly I can’t really remember if I had any major fears but the things I’m about to say may apply anyway, even if you hadn’t really thought about it yet.
First of all, you’ll make friends. Knowing a million people is great but if none of them will pick you up off the floor when you’ve thrown up in the corridor or hold you whilst you cry over a boy (or anything) and you’re too fragile to be left alone, then it’s not worth it. Find a couple that will walk to the ends of the earth for you (well, to Tesco and back when you’re too lazy to buy Doritos) and you’re set. The ones that become your friends for life may not be found in the first week, month or even year but when you find them (and you will) they’ll be the ones leaving you squash by your bed and leaving you cute notes under your door. Secondly, if you don’t want to go to a party because you’d rather study or watch a movie or read a book, that’s fine! Everyone has those days/nights. Just remember to have fun with real life humans too, as much as Ross and Rachel make you laugh they won’t be the ones putting you to bed after one too many – real friends are outside your room. Okay now, the reason you’re at university is to go to lectures but missing one won’t make you fail; just don’t let it become routine. On that note, as long as you tried your best on a piece of work and you’re proud of your grade it doesn’t matter what anyone else got. Finally, going back to my first point; as long as you’re a nice person people will like you.
Now for some things I wish I’d known – again, I can’t remember now, having done it but hopefully these things will be of some help to you.
- It goes incredibly fast. That’ll be one of the first things they tell you and you’ll believe them half-heartedly but trust me, they’re right. Make the most of every second because you’ll miss it like nothing else when it’s over.
- If a boy breaks your heart, try your best to forget him. He’s not worth it – you are.
- You will never need your friends more – remember to let them lean on you when they need to.
- It’s okay to cry. Cry because you miss home, because you’re stressed, because you’re sad (or because you’re happy!), just do it if you want to, everyone else is.
- You’ll experience every emotion possible at some point, it’s scary and amazing at the same time, just try not to freak out.
- No one knows what they want to do when they graduate, and if they do, they’re lucky. Don’t panic, even if it takes a year or two (or three…) afterwards, you’ll get there – what’s the rush?
- You’ll miss hugs more than you realise and the first time you hug your new friends will make you see that – try and remember that moment.
- You’ll be a different person when you leave than you were when you started and that’s okay, so many things will have shaped you and I promise it’ll be for the better (even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like it).
Now I know mum always said this to me but you never know when you may need to so just remember, you can always come home.