Being the not so typical student at university, my last year and what I've learnt

15 Feb 2016

Today I thought I would write something a little different, focusing more on something that takes up most of my life but is coming to a close end! If you don't know me, follow me on social medias or saw my last post on being a university student, then you won't know that I am in my last year of university! I attend York st John, doing a Fine Art course and last week I received a first for my dissertation!!!!!!!! I am never the one to rave about grades or anything I achieve, but I have put so much blood, sweat and tears into that paper so to receive a first (the highest grade you can get at university) is truly amazing. I pushed and pushed myself so to come out with a first is everything to me. Anyway, so yes I am in my last year of university and acknowledging this has made me think about my whole experience and what I am coming away with. 

It really has been an up and down experience and with all the other commitments I have going on at the same time, I've come to the conclusion that I am not your typical university student. Or the stereotype anyway.
Anyone I speak to who hasn't been to university always assumes the lifestyle consists of drinking every night, pizza, never going to classes, getting in at 7am then going to an 8am lecture, sponging off your loan, etc. The reality of what university is like is so very different, don't get me wrong I know a number of people who only came to uni for the piss head lifestyle, but most never leave the house only to study or to work. I only know the odd few students who can live off their loan and don't have to work, but more than half (like myself) have to work their butts off in a part time job just to have any money for living. 

This is a hard truth and realistically the only way you're going to be able to live off your loan is if your parents earn very very VERY little. Or you get every maintenance grant going. My parents aren't rich nor poor and each installment of my loan I've received, I've always had to earn my own money to put towards my rent, food, etc. It got so bad in second year when I was receiving the smallest amount of my loan that I had to make three months rent out of my own money. It's a running joke maybe to myself that I worked so hard to earn that money that I lost my summer, my boyfriend and moved into York full time because I couldn't afford to go home to see my parents. At Christmas 2014 I had around four meetings with banks to try to extend my over draft, but another hard truth, when you're only in your early twenties you don't have any credit rating. No credit rating apparently is bad credit rating, so the bank wouldn't extend my over draft and therefore I struggled for months until my next installment which only just barely covered my rents. It makes me stressed just thinking about money and one thing as a student you only acknowledge when you realize your loan just isn't enough to live at uni. Only in my third year has my loan covered my rent because the amount you receive changes every year based on what your parents earn't within a specific year, mine earn't less so I received more money. It makes no sense but that's how it work, usually in your third year you get so much less but thankfully some uni loan god looked down on me and decided they would take it easy on the most stressful university year of my life. 

This is how your years at university normally go: 1st year - it's either pass or fail in fine art so you attend classes, have more free time, somehow have money for things because halls aren't that expensive and life is easy. 2nd year - things get more serious and you're expected to be in university more, more assignments, you are getting your footing for what you're working at. 3rd year - you work at university/library every day or you fail. Not so literally but I have spent all my time working because this year is it all. You step up or you leave uni with a third or fail. In both my first and second year I had a boyfriend who didn't live in York, so I took a lot of time out of uni to visit them and generally hated uni.  In my second year I never went in and felt so lonely when I did, I didn't know what was going on and I'm so glad I fell out of this rut. In my third year now I feel so supported by my boyfriend and the people I go to university with that I actually look forward to getting in the studio and making art! From letting myself down in second year I've wanted to step up now when it counts, but this generally means I have no time for anything. I work, spent all Christmas writing my dissertation and some people just don't understand how much work is expected in a fine art's course. The relationships I had with people when I spent all of my time outside of university doing anything but my work I feel has started to disappear, and it makes me so sad. I'm never at my student house with my house mates because I'm constantly so busy and now that I have plans to move in with my boyfriend who lives in York, it's harder to come home more than ever. With constantly working or writing my dissertation I have felt like I don't have any friends, such a massive over exaggeration because obviously I do, but when you only have your boyfriend who spends time with you, it makes you start to be so anxious. I've had to put aside seeing people to really dive into my dissertation and now it's done, I find myself sat inside at night, whilst Joel's at work just feeling so alone because if I was to text anyone to hang out, I don't feel 100% anyone would come. I luckily get on really well with everyone on my course and it's nice to be spending more time with them every day at university now I go in more, so if I could give you any sort of advice it's you're probably going to get on dead well with people who have the same interests as you.   

One outcome of having no money and working all the time meant that on my free nights, no way did I want to go out. Second year was probably the laziest year of my life but I enjoyed just getting cuddled up with my house mates in our living room watching Disney film after Disney film. I never did any university work which was my down fall, but I did watch all my favourite old school Disney films. In your second year you'll settle in your new student house which you get after halls and once you go from socializing in a kitchen to having a really comfy sofa, the nights of staying in will start to pile up. 

After working all through summer in York and being around people that are not students, I absolutely forgot that I was one. I don't particularly like being referred to as a student because no one means it in a good way, they assume I go out getting drunk every night and don't care about my studies. I don't mean to be hostile but when I'm talking to someone and they ask me what I do, I hate to say I go to university because they it launches into them wanting to hear drunken tales of the men I've concurred, my wildest piss ups, and I literally have done none of those things. Living in a small town the huge house parties I went to were when I was at college, I'm pretty much a grandma. This post should be called 'being a Grandma at university' because I don't even like drinking that much. If you're not really into that 'being a student' scene like me then you'll probably sympathies how lonely it can me. I blog, run my own store, work in a bar and with university I just don't have time to do anything else. York is also a culprit for getting me out of the club life, there are so many good restaurants and bars that I'd rather go on a day time small bar crawl with my partner than go to a club two or three hours and stumble home in a taxi that costs £12.

I feel like this might be something I want purely because I met my boyfriend outside of university, meaning he's more in the real world than I am. I still live in a student house paying rent with money I am given, so when we have conversations of life it's never about how unsecure in a sense my living situation is now. Before meeting Joel I hadn't considered what I was going to do after university and would probably move back in with my parents, but having someone to progress life with to the next stage is exciting! My student house at the moment with the girls is decorated quite nicely and that's when I realized we weren't your typical students. Students don't spend money on home decor like we do. 

I think that's all I need to say. Go to the library. It saves lives. 

Whilst planning this post I found the #CurrysTechTag over on saltandchic which focuses on being a student at university, so I thought why not end on a tag! 

1. What course and year are you in at uni?
I'm currently in my third year at York st John University studying Fine Art. 

2. Why did you choose to study this?
I have always wanted to do something art based and originally wanted to go to university to study illustration in Graphic design! In my foundation degree I found that I was diving into all areas of art - illustration, photography, sculpture, painting etc, so it would be better for me to follow a path which allowed me to explore all of those things.

3. What has been your best memory as a student so far?
It's only in my third year that I've fully enjoyed started to enjoy university so I don't have alot of fun stories to tell! My best memory will of had to be when I found out I got a first on my dissertation!

4. What tech couldn't you live without at uni?
I want to say my laptop but It will definitely have to be Iphone for Spotify. I learnt/study better when listening to music and when you're having a good few hours study session it's great to pop the earphones in and lose yourself in another world. 

5. If you could invent a piece of tech to use as a student what would it be?
Oo it would definitely have to be some online software to help you structure essays and tell you if you're doing right or wrong. That would be great! 

6. Are you involved in any clubs or societies outside of your degree?
I attempted to go to the society fairs every year and never went to one. So no.

7. What's your favourite way to relax and unwind when you're not studying?
Funnily enough I love to draw to get myself unwound, despite that I do that for my course anyway. I love to read and with my record collection growing, I love to just stick on a record and knit! 

8. What are you hoping to do after graduating?
I really want to push my own independent business and really go for it with tops, prints, bags and other merch to sell! It would be great to involve some of my stitchwork too, but I really need to work at that. I'll probably work for a year to earn money and try to get my business up and running. I wanted to be a tattooist like a couple of months ago but my minds changed.  

9. Describe your experience at uni so far in five words.
Challenging, Time consuming, Maturing, Furthering. 

10. Tell us one interesting fact about yourself.
Normally my interesting fact is I'm a blogger which is so obvious on my blogging platform haha. Purely because it's been brought up recently, my Grandmother and Grandfather were called Lily and James like Harry Potters parents! My parents wedding song is also Always...Weird right!

I hope you like his post guys, it's quite an honest one into my experience of university! I'm sure there are plenty more things that I could include into this post and if you want me to I will make a part two almost when I officially finish university. How have you found your experience if you're at university or went to?