Certainly, the contemporary university experience of the 2000s is different from that your parents went through, but it’s understandable that they’d be jealous. After all, where and when else will all of the following happen?
You’re surrounded by people with things in common
Even if it doesn’t feel much like it at first, university surrounds you with others with similar interests, opinions and experiences to yours. After all, you’ve all travelled to the same place to attend the same institution and study the same course!
Indeed, many students end up staying in the town or city where they’ve studied to live there even after their course comes to an end (with London acting as the only city exception; likely down to its high living costs). In Northern Ireland, over 90% of university students stay there after studies. Once you’ve shaped yourself as a person in a new place, it’s natural you’d like to stay. If you do return back to your hometown, you’re just as ‘normal’, though – only 15% of students end up working and living somewhere they’ve never lived before.
72% of students at Durham University end up marrying a fellow Durham student, so you may even find that those around you during your uni days really do shape the rest of your life.
You’re independent, but with little responsibility
Being a full-time student is respected in the UK, but dependent on the subject, may not take up the same hours that working full time would. You’re in charge of your life and can take on new things whenever you want to, with just one core responsibility to focus on.
Your living situation after university will increase your independence but also your responsibilities, so enjoy the period of not having to worry about bills, children, pets and various other commitments – while you still can!
You’re expected to be broke
OK, so you’re likely on a student loan or bursary and probably have some kind of help from parents or family. Your net income isn’t huge, but being a student means that there’s a societal expectation from everyone that’ll be skint. It’s true (to an extent), sure, but does come in handy when you’re not expected to buy pricey gifts at birthdays and Christmas and are offered discounts for showing your student card. It also can easily help cuddle up some favours from parents and family, who you may find are a little more willing to buy you a sandwich or new book than they have been previously (and will be again!).
The internet has opened up loads of ways to work around having a limited disposable income for students, including of course, Student Discount Squirrel! Remembering to use a dedicated click-through link or input a discount code can save you hefty amounts of cash on everything from mobile phones to Moschino fashion and pizzas to Travelodges (https://studentdiscountsquirrel.co.uk/travelodge/).
Once your student card has expired your discounts will come to an end, and it’ll become considerably less socially acceptable for you to ask for money off a bill. Alumni cards (if your university offers them) do sometimes garner decent offers, it’s much rarer.
You can indulge your interests
Having some free time and a network of people at your fingertips allows you to use your time at university to really indulge your hobbies or interests. Most universities have numerous societies and clubs, and if there isn’t one for what you’re after? Apply for funding from the Student Union to start your own!
Whether it’s sports, gaming, cooking or something more specialist, you’ll find it much more difficult to spend time on when you have to work full time and enter the real world. Even if your interest isn’t something that a club can cater for, your schedule should allow for you to spend time doing what you love. Hey, who knows, that may even be your course!
You can manage your own time
Unless you leave university and become self-employed, your university years may be the only time period of your life where you can manage your own schedule. Going to uni in the 21stcentury often doesn’t even require you to attend lectures in person all the time – several institutions now upload all slides online after the class.
Time management aside, there’s also not many times in your life that you can sleep in late, get work done in the evenings, drink on weeknights and make every social occasion you’re invited to: so, make sure you’re being productive… while still getting a decent night’s kip.
Managing your own schedule when you hit the real world post-study isn’t just a case of having to be out of the house from 9-5 every day – but everything right down to what order the tasks you have to do within that timeframe! You’ll soon be answering to other people and will miss your independence.
Of course, you will experience stresses and strains during your uni life as you do with every other era of it. Truly, your time spent at university will be so much different to other times in your life that you’ll look back on it favourably. Of course, this may be with rose-tinted glasses but trust us… it’s worth living to the full while you’re there!
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