No matter where you’re from, moving away from home is a massive step. For me, moving all the way from my home in Bulgaria to study at Essex was a huge step for me, but one I knew I had to do. Before I left, my mother told me that to keep my goals in mind and remember what this opportunity meant for me, I should write letters to my future self. I didn’t really understand the meaning of this at the time, but I now realise the immense importance of it and that, actually, this was one of the best pieces of advice she has ever given me.
To help me get started, my mother gave me five blank letters and told me to write some goals that I would like to achieve. At the top of each of these, she had written thought-provoking prompts, such as ‘All the things I’d like to try someday’ and ‘What I imagine my dream job to be when I graduate’.
One of the letters had the title: ‘The things I want to accomplish by the end of my second year at the University’. I knew exactly what I wanted by the end of my second academic year. So I opened the letter, grabbed my pen and wrote ‘I want to achieve first class honours and travel with my best friend somewhere abroad’. This was the only letter which I actually had the chance to write before I packed all my belongings and headed here ready to start my Essex adventure! But I will never forget reading that letter when it came back to me, exactly two years later. It was an enthralling experience because I didn’t just reach the goals I wrote on the paper, but I actually exceeded my expectations! In addition to finishing my second year with a distinction, I was given several awards for my numerous extracurricular activities and for academic excellence. I received the Big Essex Award, Pearson Education Award, Chartered Management Institute Prize and on top of all of it, I was awarded Student of the Year. As for travelling with my best friend somewhere abroad, she actually surprised me with a trip to Milan for my 21st birthday! I couldn’t believe how far I’d come from the goal I’d written all those years ago and seeing this just inspired me to try even harder next year!
It’s amazing that just writing a letter to yourself teaches you such valuable life lessons that will stick with you long afterwards. Just imagine writing a letter to your future self, then opening it at one of the most exciting moments of your life to read the message that the past you left for yourself. Often the goals we set and the process to achieving them are subjected to a lot of changes along the way, but it’s comforting to know that you haven’t only accomplished what you truly desired, but to see how much you’ve grown and changed since you wrote the letter.
So here is my ultimate advice before coming to University:
Grab several blank letters and think what you want to say to your future self. What goals you want to achieve by the end of the first academic year? What places do you want to visit one day? What result do you imagine graduating with from Essex?
Once you’ve written these letters to yourself, put them in envelopes and seal them. Sign off with your name and today’s date on the cover. Then, write when you want to open it – by the end of your first year, when you have a birthday, or when you graduate from the university. Put all the envelopes somewhere safe, where no one else but you has access to them. These letters will become paper time capsules that you will treasure forever!