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Uni- Realistically

So you’ve taken your gap year around the hostels of Peru or
you’ve been interailing through to Tuscany enjoying the Ponte Vecchio at sunset
with a bottle of mellow chianti wine as buskers sing ‘O Solo Mio’ (the one from
the Cornetto ad). You might have had a ‘Summer of Love’; 1969 reborn in 2011 at
sixteen different festivals before turning your mind one day before university
begins to the first chapter of the first book on the reading list. Whatever
you’ve been up to this summer, somewhere in the past few months you’ve finally
found yourself- right? Somewhere in the heady mix of drugs, drink and partners,
who may or may not call you when they get back to their alma mater countries,
you’ve found the real you, the die cast for the next twenty or so years of
‘young adulthood’.

Well probably not- if first year’s taught me anything it’s that the cliché of finding
out who you are certainly hasn’t clicked in post A-levels or even post year out,
in fact i’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist in a solid form at all. At the end of a
fantastic and lightning quick first year it’s still all a bit hazy, but a few
experiences have stuck:

Firstly, who you meet in Freshers week and what you get up
to isn’t necessarily going to be the blueprint of your friends and behaviour
for life, or even for subsequent weeks. That’s not to say they’re not
important- my own version of this was the notorious ‘Strawpedo Five’, the first
word not denoting the kind of person your mum is scared to have living next
door because they’re on a police list, but in fact relating to the method of
guzzling down any appropriate bottled beverage with a straw, (our beverage
tending to be, to our discredit, normally WKD). This behaviour is in full
evidence throughout the SU during Freshers week so look out for it and join it
with it. Bear in mind however, and even the other 4 members of ‘Strawpedos’ agree
with this, that such indulgences are a bit of a Freshers gimmick and best
reserved for the first few weeks only.

Secondly, Royal Holloway is going to get eerily quiet on the weekends. Remember
all those friends at school who thought you were going to a University near Her
Majesty’s Prison on the Holloway Road, London when you told them you were
studying here? Well they were wrong about that but they were right in their
subsequent comments about the small size and occasional quietness of the campus.
This is perhaps due to the large Home Counties contingent of the college, meaning
that a large majority of us might be just a swift hour’s train away from mum’s home
cooked Sunday roast and a chance to ask Dad for another tenner towards those
inevitable sports club subs which come thick and fast through the autumn term.
Thirdly, contact time with your teachers at university is a whole new ball game.
If you’re an arts student it’s minimal, and the burden is on us instead to put
in those extra hours at the desk in reading and writing, rather than sneaking
off for another pint of at Crosslands. Sadly it looks like if you want the full
value of your three thousand plus per annum education (soon to be tripled)
it’s going to have to be in the form of a long Spotify playlist, six cups of tea
and six hours of background reading a week- good luck to us!
In fact, the third, untaught term of university is even more bizarre and,
permit me a minor rant here, but surely a bit of a scam. Really? A third
term of the first year just to study for exams with not a single lecture to
colour the timetable? I mean students are good at procrastination but
that’s a whole new level.

Despite this it is a good thing that the spoon-feeding of school is gone, and
subsequently one of the most satisfying features of university life is finding
like-minded friends who are as deeply passionate about their subjects as you
are, therefore allowing you to battle out the subject of the week together with
caffeine fuelled vigour. Ultimately, squeeze everything you possibly
can into your first year (and subsequent ones too), from study groups, clubs
and societies through to howling late night guitar and whisky sessions- which
Founder’s security are still having nightmares about I am sure. Follow this
advice and you’re first year will look like it’s going to top even that time
you swam out to the actual place where ‘The Beach’ was filmed in Thailand,
absolutely trashed off buckets of fluorescent cocktails and urinated all over
the locals’ volleyball net whilst a procession of paper lanterns lit up your
arc of glorious pee in the tropical air

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