As you can tell by the photo, I GRADUATED!
I am officially a graduate from the University of Sussex! I feel so many emotions when I think about the fact that I am done with uni. I feel relieved, proud, excited and at the same time I feel scared because I have no idea what the future holds for me. I won’t focus on that too much in today’s post (part of the reason I haven’t been blogging as much is because my mind is constantly distracted with the fact that I don’t have a plan or a job yet). I thought I would tell you guys a little bit about my experience with University and maybe impart a bit of wisdom that I learnt on the way. A lot of these points may cross over from my Freshers advice post (linked here) so you can check that post out as well if you want.
Overall, I really enjoyed my experience at Sussex. There were times where I was close to dropping out and I struggled to see the point of all this debt and stress. Now I am on the other side of it, I know that those hard times were times to test my strength and I have grown as person which has impacted my work ethic, as well as me as a person. It was a period where I have come to accept the fact that I’m an introvert and that’s okay, whilst I have grown in confidence in public speaking and group work as well. I have made some amazing friends (sorry that I suck maintaining contact though guys if you’re reading this) that I hope to stay in contact with whilst we stay in Brighton for at least another year whilst Dom finishes his degree. Even though I made some mistakes along the way, I wouldn’t change anything about my experience or any of my choices because I feel like everything happens for a reason. I could have worked harder, but I know I pushed myself to my limits and did the most that I was capable of so I have no regrets at all. If I went back and did it again I know I would do the same things. I have learnt so much about my subject and myself, making university totally worth it for me. I feel ready to take on the next chapter, whatever that may be.
When I look back at first year, I am kinda embarrassed by how little I tried. I did the bare minimum to make sure I got over 40% since the first year didn’t count. Whilst I do regret doing this because it meant I had more to lose when I finally started trying in second year, I also learnt what *not* to when it came to assessments which meant my grades drastically improved. If you told me in first year that I would graduate with a 2.1 or that I’d get a 1st for my dissertation, I wouldn’t have believed you. If you are about to start uni and you’re reading this, I would advise you to make the most of first year and allow room for the mistakes to find your academic voice and learn what is expected of you.
Another thing that I didn’t do in first year that made a huge difference to my grades and my well-being is meeting up with my Academic Advisor whenever I needed to (this also applies to making the most of your tutors’ office hours). Having someone to talk to about my assessments, feedback, my classes really helped push me in the right direction and provided me with ways to improve. Whenever I met with my Advisor, I was always left feeling encouraged and confident in what I was doing and that I had the tools to improve any negative feedback that I had been given in the past onto my future assignments. Definitely take advantage of any office hours with your module tutors or Academic Advisor, they are there for a reason and everyone only wants you to succeed and they are there to support you.
A stereotype of students is that they are lazy, I’m definitely someone who is known for procrastinating, A LOT with real life things, but not so much with uni work. In first year I learnt that you get out what you put in. Of course my grades were low because I did the bare minimum and didn’t seek advice on how to improve. Once I learnt that I really need to do more than skim-read (I didn’t totally kick this habit), plan my work efficiently and contribute more in class, it really felt like I was earning my higher grades and that I deserved to be there. I know that might be hard to do everyday, but start off small and celebrate the small victories. You should be proud that you stayed in the library after your lecture to do a bit of reading rather than going straight back to home, or you were brave enough to share your viewpoint in a seminar when your class mates intimidate you a bit. I have grown so much as a person by going out of my comfort zone. Uni is a great place to discover new things about yourself, it’s all about pushing yourself to be the best version of you.
Leading on from my last point it is so important to take time for yourself and take some time for self-care. That might be relaxing with friends, doing some skin care, taking time to catch up on YouTube videos or your current Netflix show. Life is all about balance. The great thing about being a student that I definitely took advantage of (and am gonna miss so much) is the fact that your schedule is pretty flexible. As long as your work gets done, it doesn’t really matter how and when you do it. Don’t be worried about taking a break if you need it, being a student is stressful at times and we all need time to rest and calibrate.
One thing I am so glad I pushed myself to do during university is make the most of my independence. I learnt to cook, transitioned to eating (mostly) vegetarian and aimed to make more sustainable and ethical decisions about my shopping and eating habits since I wasn’t dependent on my family’s decisions anymore. In first year I lived off beans on toast and pasta unless Dom was there to visit – he is an amazing cook! But, once Dom and I moved in together in my second year I felt the motivation to learn how to cook and make amazing meals from scratch. With Dom coaching me and a lot of practice, I found that I liked cooking way more than I thought I would. It is so rewarding making something and putting all that time in for it to taste AMAZING. Student cookbooks have been amazing at introducing me to the basics and I love Deliciously Ella or Minimalist Baker for easy vegan meals. Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can! Being more independent made me feel so much more together and responsible and (sorta) ready for real life. It also makes you appreciate someone doing your washing while your home or someone else cooking dinner for you way more!
So there was my way of marking the end of my university career, I don’t have any plans to go back and do a Masters, I feel done with the whole education thing. I am definitely gonna miss being a student and the lifestyle, but I am (nervous) excited for the next chapter in my life. I have no idea what the future holds, but I’m looking forward to see where life takes me now I’m graduate. I will be sure to keep you guys updated 🙂