Long distance friendships and relationships

Coming to university, moving away from your loved ones, and starting this whole scary ‘long distance’ thing might be the worst nightmare for many students. It was scary for me too, but now I actually think it’s a blessing.

I left my home country a while ago, leaving all my friends behind. For the past seven years I lived in quite a few countries and, as a fairly sociable human being, I found a lovely bunch of friends in each of them and fell in love a few times. And just at the moment I would start to call that place ‘home’, it was time to make a move again… even though it was always painful (actually I don’t think I ever managed to leave without crying a river!) I learned to appreciate every different place for their own special reasons.

When I was moving around, for the first few times I was convinced I would keep in touch with all my friends and only a thought of a different scenario would make my eyes water. The truth is that it’s not always like that. You will have your life here and they will have their life there. You can drop a message sometimes, but it’s difficult to be present in everybody’s life constantly, unless you want to spend your life on Skype. The good thing about it is that it will let you identify people who really care about how you’re doing and who always will be there for you, in spite of the distance and the time passing by.

Even if it sounds harsh, I believe the same goes for amorous relationships. Sometimes being around one another constantly doesn’t give you any space to reflect upon your relationship. After moving away for a while, you will be able to look at everything from a distance and decide if it’s really right for you.

A while ago I moved to another country (again), and my boyfriend-at-the-time stayed in the country I left. We were both so in love, so of course we tried to keep it going. After I moved away, I realised that I was actually happier by myself, doing what was making ME happy and that this relationship was keeping me in stagnation, without me even realising it. I didn’t just give up, I tried to find a solution, but after a while I came to the conclusion that this was an ultimatum: my personal growth or that relationship. It sounds like the worst scenario, and I don’t wish it to happen to any of you, but I think for me I made the best decision. I looked at my relationship from a different perspective and I noticed that it just wasn’t what I wanted.

I don’t mean to scare you. It doesn’t mean that after coming to uni your relationships will fall apart. Actually, I’ve been in (another) long distance relationship for a while now and seriously, I couldn’t be happier. Ironically, the distance makes us feel even closer because now we make time for good conversations. I don’t want to sound like a relationship pro either, of course everyone is different, but just know that it doesn’t have to be a bad thing to be away from one another and if it doesn’t work, it’s for a reason.

It’s a win-win situation!

Long distance friendships and relationships at uni might be the first ‘trial’ for you and I think it will benefit you either way. If things don’t go so well and you happen to break up or stop being friends – that’s ok, honestly! It might be difficult to accept at the time, but maybe there’s some truth in the saying that everything happens for a reason. My very wise friend used to say: ”It’s always good when it’s good”. It’s so true. It’s only when obstacles such as being long distance appear that you find out if you really are meant to bein each other’s lives. And  if it does work out, that’s amazing! You guys will have a solid base to build something very valuable.

Good luck to all those who are about to embark on a new adventure, moving cities or even countries, I hope you to keep your precious friendships and establish new ones! For those who come in a ‘relationship status’, stay positive! There are so many ways to pamper your Very Special Person from far away, but that’s a topic for another post. 🙂

What to expect from the Welcome Week

I am sure you are very excited about coming here to our amazing uni…and possibly a little nervous too! So I am now going to be the helpful chap I always am and brief you about the Welcome Week!

Moving In

Ufff…this part is…I am not even going to lie to you, it was tiring! I had a lot of luggage with me, so just bringing it with me everywhere was a pain. My hands hurt, my feet hurt, I was tired from the flight. Fortunately, the University is trying to make this as easy for us as possible, by placing ambassadors and Resident Assistants everywhere, so they can direct you to the right place if you are lost.

Introductions

The number one thing to expect from the Welcome Week is…well, welcomes. From your department, your personal tutor, peer mentor, to your RA, all will be welcoming you to our university and making sure you are doing ok. They will be explaining to you what help they can offer, should the need arise and you can always turn to them for advice

Fresher’s Fair

The most anticipated event of the Welcome Week is the Fresher’s Fair. It is always held on the Squares…yes, squares…like all the 5 squares because it is a huge event! There, you will get to know a lot of people, all the societies will have stalls, and all the sports teams too, you will find everyone there, from the VTeam to Nightline – LITERALLY everyone. The whole event is just so much fun and you get to sign up to any societies or sports club that you are interested in.

 

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People

As mentioned before, you will meet a lot of people. LIKE A LOT OF THEM. Your flatmates and course mates. Also, if you decide to step out and have yourself a club night, Sub 0 and Base are always full, so be prepared for instant besties (who are actually the best), because that is what is going to happen. And if you are not the kind to go clubbing, no worries! Going to SU Bar, or just sitting on one of the squares during fresher’s week kind of guarantees you friends, since everyone is very talkative and open to meet new people.

I hope I eased your anxiety about the Fresher’s week because even though it starts out kind of rough with the moving in, it is the most amazing thing ever that you will probably never forget. If you are still nervous about it just remember that probably all the other freshers are in the same boat as you. See you all there!

5 Student Stereotypes You’ll Meet at Uni

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Uni is made up of a multitude of people, all different and individual…saying that you’ll definitely meet at least one of these irritating stereotypes.

Library Badger

This person basically exists to make you feel like a terrible person. They’ll constantly be on their way to the library. Spending evenings there to do some extra research, going there between lectures rather than procrastinating on social media and overspending on coffees like the rest of us normal people. They’ll probably have a spot that they regularly sit in and rant savagely about the annoying students who talk or make out between the books. This person is however a useful friend, when deadlines and exams are approaching, going to the library badger’s favorite haunt to get your study on can prove very helpful, because you know they are a pro at getting their head down and working.

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The Fluker

Opposite to the library badger, is the worst kind of person to ever exist, ever (totally not an exaggeration.) I have met so many versions of this student, and weirdly, they’ve all been guys. The Fluker is the person that always does super well, despite doing little to no work. They’re never in lectures, they leave their coursework to the day before, and can be regularly heard uttering the phrases ‘I only need 40% to pass’ or ‘lol mine was so bad I’m gonna fail’. They then proceed to get a first and a better grade than you leaving you wanting to throttle them. The fluker is the absolute worst and there is a special circle of hell reserved for them (again not overreacting.)

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The Mythical Creature

This person is amazing, slightly concerning and could well be half mythical creature. They’re a party animal, to such a degree that they have a Mick Jagger amount of ridiculous stories from their escapades. They are usually an absolute nightmare to get hold of and are definitely not the type of person you want to get stuck on a group project with, because in terms of uni, they’re probably useless and rarely sober, on the other hand, there is potential for a crossbreed of the fluker and the mythical creature, combined as one, frustrating and bewildering hybrid. They may have a tendency to be a little flakey and quite often tend to become a slight urban legend, but hold a fire enough house party, and you bet, like a bloodhound, they’ll sniff it out, making it ten times better when they arrive with their antics. 

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Mummy Daddy Privilege Kid

Depending on your uni, the concentration of these will vary. This person rocks up in daddy’s Range Rover, head to toe in Jack Wills (bonus for striped rugby style shirt with turned up collar), carrying in an entire kitchen of brand new John Lewis utensils and appliances. The irony is, they will never use any of these items as they have no idea how to cook, seeing as they have always had dinner served to them. Think JP from Fresh Meat, it’s literally him. Combine them with my gap yah student from my previous article and you have a deadly, upper middle class super power.

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LDR, Never Single Girl

Now, just because I have spent time mocking a load of other student tropes, I will bite the bullet and rip on myself as well, I am fully aware that I am this student and I’m super annoying. This person starts uni with a boyfriend at home, spends most evenings calling and pining, generally being a pain about it. They ultimately have relationship problems that they spend most nights in the kitchen whining about, and end up splitting up. Leaving them disoriented. After a while, and to your relief they resolve to have fun and be single. For a brief period, this person turns into a little party animal riot, and they prove for a lot of entertainment, especially to live vicariously through. Then, bam!  Before you can blink they have a new beau that they’re pining over and moaning about how awful and difficult relationships are, all over again. This cycle can happen anything between one and 4 times during your uni career and this person is a whiney, exasperating nightmare. The likelihood is they’re like me and are fully aware they are like this, but can’t resist being a terrible person and repeating the cycle, they are the living embodiment of this meme…

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Use this blog post like Pokemon cards, collect them all!  Learn each character’s powers and weaknesses and how to just about tolerate them.

Colchester on the Cheap

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Spending money is lame and for people that have it. Here’s how to get the most out of Colchester without having to splash the cash.

Castle Park

On a nice day, Castle Park is a fab afternoon out. A good few hours can be spent, wandering around amongst the flowers, laying on the grass, hitting up the swan pedalos and admiring the roman castle walls and grounds, the castle itself costs money but for a nice lazy sunny stroll, the park itself is free and beautiful. Coming up in September, there’s also going to be outdoor movie screenings of Pulp Fiction, The Goonies and Grease.

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Walk Around the uni

While Castle Park is lovely, you really don’t have to look too far to find a lovely outdoors area to take a walk. Wivenhoe park is a beautiful area, we have the lake, the trees and the ducks to wander around, and on a nice day, the picnic tables and BBQ areas are perfect for a sunny afternoon.

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First Site

Feeling refined? Always daaarling! First Site is a really great artistic space in Colchester, housing galleries and performance and workshop space. Best of all, entry is free and there is some really great art on show there, definitely worth a trip if you feel like being cultured for an afternoon. Coming up there’s the Lubaina Himid and Ed Gold exhibitions, and a number of film screenings, which, although they aren’t free are a bit cheaper than cinema prices.

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The Minories Gallery

Another art gallery managed and run by Colchester School of Art, The Minories Gallery exhibits arts and culture artefacts, and the work and galleries of students of the school. It’s free and located right near Firstsite.

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Colchester Natural History Museum

Don’t go thinking London-scale animatronic dinosaurs, but the natural history museum provides a nice little collection of stuff to keep you entertained without having to spend any cash. It’s really easy to miss, being nestled inside a church just opposite the castle. It’s cute and free, and there’s a range of things to interact with and get nerdy over.

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HollyTrees Museum

Just near the castle, the Hollytrees museum gives a view of Colchester life from over the past 300 years, set in a beautiful Georgian house. Again, admission is free and it provides a bit of entertainment, you can even get dressed up as a servant if you fancy!

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Of course, there’s loads of other stuff in Colchester that you can get up to if you spend a bit of cash, but if you’re anything like me, there’s nothing like the triumph of a free day’s entertainment.

The Beauty of a Campus Uni

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Come to Essex, you need never leave *evil cackle*.

Recently I had a friend come visit me here at Essex from another university, being from a city uni, I thought I would take him on a mini tour of our campus (totally not for showing off purposes)  he was surprised and slightly envious of  all of the things we have here, and up until then I hadn’t really stopped to think about just how lucky we are to have a campus filled with so much stuff.

Now, I’m not blind, brutalist architecture is most definitely not for everybody, and the harshness of some of the 1960’s buildings is undeniable, the grey concrete, the crazy crazy room numbering, but after learning a lot from these blog posts by Jordan Welsh about some of the architectural history, I started to see the beauty and functionality in our weird concrete labyrinth.

https://iamessex.wordpress.com/2016/10/05/secrets-of-the-university-of-essex/

https://iamessex.wordpress.com/2017/06/30/secrets-of-the-university-of-essex-part-2

Aesthetically though, the pretty parts totally outweigh the concrete. As we were wandering, we went around the lakes and up to the top of the hill by the Ivor Crewe, places I may not go on a regular university day, but on a sunny day especially, our campus really does look beautiful.

On top of the aesthetic of our uni, we are so lucky to have so many amenities all in one place. As miserable as it would be to actually come to the uni and then never ever leave campus, it would almost be possible. Campus living is like having its own little mini university village. Food and groceries from the stores, a cinema, a theatre, an art gallery, a bus that serves pie , a post office and all the stationary you’d need from Everything Essex. It really is all there on your doorstep. (Although I definitely wouldn’t recommend never leaving campus, you may go a little crazy.)

Being all in one place really has its benefits when it comes to socialising too. As I learned from the blog posts I mentioned earlier, the campus is designed so that everything gravitates around the core of the squares, meaning bumping into people is always a possibility. Which is really great for impromptu drinks and catch ups, not-so great when you’re on the way home sweaty and red-faced from the gym.

We are super lucky with how much we have on campus, and sometimes it takes a poor unfortunate soul from a city uni to remind us just how much we have here.

My Essex Highlights

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My time at Essex has been amazing and I’ve had some great experiences, here’s a few of the little moments that have made Essex special.

Meerkats

At the end of second year, the SU held a petting zoo, bringing a menagerie of animals onto campus to ease the exam stress. There were bunnies, dogs, fancy mice, and the coolest of all, meerkats! We were aloud to get in and hang out with the meerkats for a while, and it was amazing and a great stress reliever!

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They’re literally on me! Amazing!

Hodor

If you don’t watch Game of Thrones, then this will mean nothing to you, but also you should watch it, come on where have you been? Anyway, even if  you haven’t seen it, you will probably have heard of Hodor, AKA Kristian Nairn. Turns out Hodor is also an amazing dance DJ and before Game of Thrones season 6 came out, Kristian Nairn came and DJ’d at Essex and gave away a load of GoT goodies during the night, I got a ‘You Know Nothing Jon Snow’ mug, I was very excited. But best of all was afterwards we got to meet Hodor after his set, he was super nice! My photo is far too shaky because…reasons,  but here’s my housemate with the man himself!

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Sorry Vilde, I hope you don’t mind me stealing your picture!

Milk It Halloween

Milk It is for me by far the most fun night out at Essex, mainly because my music taste is mainly guilty pleasures and cheese, so it’s perfect. This year, Milk It held a Halloween special and needless to say, karaoke, plus costumes, plus beverages, is always a winning combination!

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I am aware that a pumpkin, Maverick from Top Gun, a Hogwarts student and a banana are an unlikely combination.

Think Talks

I love the Think Series, they open up super interesting topics for debate and really open your mind to things you’ve never considered before. At the beginning of second year I attended one on the porn industry and it was absolutely fascinating, they even give you free sweets and drink as you go in! Definitely a highlight of the things I’ve done at uni!

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These are just a handful of amazing things that I have experienced during my time at Essex and I’m sure there will be many more, Comment below what your Essex highlights have been!

The Wonders of the Uni Flat

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This is it! The key is in your hand, your mum is loaded down with bags and stacker boxes, and if you’re anything like I was, you feel like your heart is about to come out of your chest. It’s move in day. So, I’m here to settle some of those worries, with 8 reasons why living in campus accommodation can be an amazing way to spend your first year.

1. RA’s Are Wonderful!

Living in Uni accommodation, you will have a fellow student living in your building who is your RA (residence assistant). This means if you’re feeling unhappy and need someone to talk to, have any concerns, or if your housemate is refusing to wash up a bowl that is starting to grow its own species, they are there to help. In my first year I lived in Quays and our RA was amazing. She organised countless things to help us to get social; from a treasure hunt, to a trip to the cinema, to a gingerbread house decorating competition – which we totally won,  and were awarded Domino’s! Here’s our winning masterpiece:

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2.Not feeling the shame from your parents when you come in drunk and want to feast at 3am

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Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there before and we’re all likely to be there again. But when you come crawling home at 3 in the morning with pizza topping stuck to your cheek and you’re just craving some cheesy chips, it’s nice to be able to do it without eye rolls and tuts from your parents. Peace at last!

3.We’re all in the same boat *groan*

It is so annoyingly cliche, and when people try to reassure you about your uni fears by telling you that ‘all students are in the same boat’, you want to scream. Mainly because before you start uni, that boat for many, feels more like the ‘The Orca’ in Jaws, with a big old anxiety shark going at it hard. But there is something in the cliche! The best way to embrace the fear of isolation at uni is to realise that literally everyone is the new kid! So don’t feel like you’re a weirdo by being pally with your new flatmates, they’ll be just as relieved as you are to be talking and getting to know people. So it ends up Less:

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And More:

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4.Find Your People

Of course I can’t guarantee you’re going to always be skipping in circles holding hands with your fellow uni flatmates, but if like me you are lucky enough to end up with great people in your flat, uni accommodation can feel like an endless sleepover. A lot of time was spent in our pyjamas, watching Undateables and laughing at cringey guys on each other’s Tinders. (There was also a hair dying incident but let’s not talk about that.)

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5. The Kitchen Time Sinkhole

Sometimes you just need a good chin wag. In our flat there was some kind of time anomaly, you’d go in there to make yourself a quick dinner at 5pm, get talking nonsense with your flatmates and all of a sudden it’s midnight and you’re all sat around in a circle talking about whether you think ghosts are real…

Uni kitchens are such a social hub, and in them, the world has been put to rights in many ways shapes and forms, for instance, ranking the best outfits on Menswear Dog’s Facebook page, or deciding whether ostriches would make good mounts to ride into battle.

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6. OMG Uni is so close

Admittedly, for anyone living in the Quays at Essex, uni is still a fairly far walk away, BUT then you’ve got Subway and Domino’s right next door, so it softens the blow of that bridge. For the other accommodations, campus is on your doorstep! Living in the South Courts or Towers, you can roll out of bed and into a lecture in minutes! However you might not understand how great this is until you move off of campus and have the horrible realisation that having to walk places is a thing. 

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Legit me on the way to 9AMs now I live off campus

7. Independence/Security Balance

What is really nice about university accommodation is that for a lot of people this is their first taste of adulting and independence. That can be really daunting, but living in a uni flat, having an RA, an accommodation office, and for most of the accommodations, cleaners that do the hallway and kitchen, you don’t feel like you’re in at the deep end; there is support there, and it also feels super safe being surrounded by so many other people.

8. Inside Jokes That No One Else Finds Funny

Probably mainly caused out of coursework stress and delirium, the stupidest things become hilarious, including sneaking terrible crayon drawings of Shia Labeouf under someone’s door, or leaving lonely hearts adverts on the tortillas that need eating up, or changing your flatmates name to Dave and refusing to call her by anything else.

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You’re bound to feel nervous until you get here, but I hope this has at least helped turn some of the nerves into excitement! You’ll love it when you get here!

University for Introverts

enhanced-26078-1439315868-1Congrats! You’re a clever sausage and bagged yourself a place at University! Three years of partying lay ahead of you! Supposedly…

But what about the people that aren’t quite as confident in throwing  themselves into the party lifestyle? Being an introvert at university can be really nerve wracking. For me, before I came to Essex I was extremely shy, and the fact that I had no choice but to make friends worried me to the point of considering not going to university. But hey! Here I am, in my second year, with a small but wonderful group of friends and a whole lot more confidence, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Don’t panic or feel rushed!

When you arrive at uni, you may feel like it’s a rush to grab the nearest person and make them your new BFF. As great as that can be, for the introvert it may not be that easy. But there really is no need to panic, or feel like you have to force yourself into friendships. Good friendships happen organically, they can’t necessarily be forced. While you may make friends in the first couple of weeks and that’s great, the probability is they may not end up your best mate for your entire time at uni. I met one of my best friends at uni in a seminar in first term, but it wasn’t until after Christmas that we did anything beyond see each other in class; the point is, these things take time. So don’t feel like a failure if you haven’t made a soul connection by the second week of freshers!

Societies

The likelihood is that you’ll be told copious times when you arrive, how important joining a society is. While it definitely isn’t essential and you shouldn’t feel like you’re failing as a student if you don’t, if you’re nervous about meeting new people and establishing yourself socially, societies can be an invaluable way of meeting people.

You don’t necessarily need to look too far!

Don’t underestimate the importance of your housemates! At the beginning of university especially, going on little expeditions with the people you live with can be a great way of learning more about each other while learning more about the new place that you’re living in. The best thing is, open your bedroom door, and they’re right there! You don’t even have to leave the house and that’s always a bonus.

Embrace your own company

In the least lonely and sad possible way, uni can be a great time to learn more about yourself and truly enjoy your own company. While I am in no way suggesting that you should lock yourself in your room for three years straight, don’t underestimate the value of having time to yourself. You are at uni to improve yourself. There is no shame in doing stuff on your own and throughout your life learning to be happy with your own company can be really valuable; there is one person who you will spend your entire life with and that’s yourself.  You don’t have to rely on other people’s company for entertainment! While of course, you need buddies to keep you afloat, and meeting new people is one of the best parts of uni, you don’t need to beat yourself up if you don’t fancy surrounding yourself with people 24/7. Besides, sometimes you can’t beat a good blanket and Netflix binge watch sesh!

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The moral of the story is: go out partying, stay in by yourself – whatever you want to do at uni, as long as you’re happy, we’re happy!

‘Gap Year’s and ‘Gap Yah’s The Pros and Cons

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It’s tempting, I know. You’ve just come back from an amazing time finding yourself in Thailand, and of course you want to tell everyone about it because ‘riding an elephant was, like, totally life changing man’.

Don’t get me wrong, as a gap year student myself,  taking a year between the end of A-Levels and starting your degree can be  invaluable. If you want to earn some cash, go on an amazing trip, or simply take some time away from education for a while, gap year-ing can really help you change your perspective and give you a well deserved break (and besides you will have been in education for a good 12/13 years non-stop!).

The Benefits of  a Gap Year

For myself, my gap year gave me a bit more time to think, I had gotten to the end of my a-levels, and as many do, freaked out because I had no idea whatsoever what I wanted to do with my life! I had already been on some open days but was still completely clueless. Taking my gap year helped me realise that I wanted to go to uni for myself and not because everyone else at sixth form was going too.

Although it is just  a year, taking that time away to gain some more experiences just living your life does make a difference and can really help you feel like you have grown up a little bit more before that scary transition to university. Even if you don’t take a spiritual trip, scootering through Vietnam, as cliche as it may seem, a gap year really can help you find yourself a little.

Making some cash before you ship off to uni can also prove to be really useful, although nowhere near as fun as my friends who went backpacking. I spent my gap year waitressing, it was kind of boring and a tad soul destroying but in terms of money, I came to university not having to rely entirely on my student loan, which was really useful when it came to boozing during freshers and making the most of the freedom of first year.

BUT

A ‘Gap year’ and a ‘Gap yah’ are two very different things.

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Perhaps I’m just envious, ( I most definitely am) of my peers who were lucky enough to experience an amazing trip, but the issue with the Gap Yah student is not the gap year, or the lengthy trip you choose to take, it’s the amount you annoy everyone else about it.  Spoiler alert: not everyone wants to hear you brag about your tales of how ‘Ollie from your hostel had the best banter’.

You know the type. You’ve just  moved into uni accommodation, you’re in the kitchen, brewing a nervous cuppa, and your new flatmate comes in, spotting the koala bear on your mug and before you know it,  they’re spouting off all about how amaaaazing Australia was before you can even tell them your name.

The issue is the pretension and the bragging when it comes to recounting your gap year odyssey. While without doubt, your gap year was probably epic, it’s the way you deliver it to other students. It’s definitely worth being aware that not everyone is able to afford a massively extravagant gap year and so hearing you bang on about it can become really grating, plus, being a fresher at uni, your new friends have probably heard 8 other stories of how wild the beach parties are in Cambodia in the past week!

And if you think it’s just me being a bitter old woman, here’s Frank Turner’s I Really Don’t Care What You Did On Your Gap Year, which isn’t really anything to do with this article in terms of lyrics, but it’s a good song with a relevant title!

Let’s get social: what to do and where to go!

SU Bar

The SU Bar is the Holy Grail of student life here. I feel like, in some way, it is the heart of the uni. There are times where after a lecture or an exam you just need to relax, and the SU Bar is perfect for that. It’s always nice to get a pint after a hard day of work. The comfy couches are definitely a plus! If you need something a bit more lively, you can always go to Milk It and sing karaoke with people – it is literally the most fun ever!

Sub Zero/Base

If you are a dancer or a clubber, you will love Sub Z and Base. The music is always on point and you can dance the night away. There is also an area to sit down and to have a chat, or you can even go outside and get some fresh air after dancing all night. People are very friendly here and it is easy to strike up a conversation and make new friends.

Happy Days/Frango’s/Fusion/Canteen

I literally cannot tell you how many times I have made new friends just while waiting for my food! I think I get most talkative when I am hungry and I think this is proven by the fact that I met 2 of my closest friends while waiting for food in Happy Days 😀 It was a match made in heaven (heaven = Happy Days)!

Squares

The squares are literally always buzzing with life – day and night. During the day you might join an African bongo band and play away, or at night you might join a group of people and enjoy the night with them – university makes it strangely easy to interact with people. There were numerous times when I had no plan for the night, I went to the store to get something and I ended up sitting in Square 3 with a group of people that are still, to this day, my friends!