ten things I learned in my second term at university

From cupcakes to house viewings, this term was perhaps even busier than my first. Even though I’m getting used to the university lifestyle now, there’s always something going on and I’m learning all the time. Here are the top ten things I’ve taken away from my second semester studying Literature at York.

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It’s so important to escape the campus bubble

When you work, live and even shop on campus, it’s easy to forget there’s a whole world outside the concrete jungle that is Hes West. I feel lucky to live over on East; despite the wind it’s absolutely beautiful, and having a separate space to call ‘home’ away from my classes is perfect for me. This term I made more of an effort to walk between the two campuses – it’s exactly a mile, so you have a sense of purpose as you set off, and taking a walk instead of the bus is so much healthier and satisfying. However, all too often I’d realise I’d spent days just going between East and West and nowhere else – so this term I made sure to head into town at least once a week just to get some space and perspective clear my head.

 

How to navigate around York

Going into town at least once a week was more than just a good routine; it forced me to walk around and get to know my city a bit more, and I’m so glad. Thanks to this and a guidebook Dad gave me for Christmas which G and I have made a lot of use of during his visits, I finally understand how lots of the backstreets work and where everything leads. I’ve got a much better sense of direction as I wander around and find so much enjoyment in exploring York’s hidden streets and snickleways. It’s such a special city, and I’m so excited to discover even more.

 

St Helen's Church York

 

Crumbs Cupcakery is even better than it sounds

Spending more time in the city means I’ve begun to find my favourite spots. There’s a certain bench by the river, a certain street near the Minster, and a certain little church off Goodramgate, but so far my favourite coffee-and-cake stop has to be Crumbs Cupcakery. Firstly, it has the most adorable name, but also delicious cakes and the option of an entire cafetiere of coffee for less than £2.50, which is perfect for writing a diary entry or blogpost with.

 

Yorkshire is gorgeous

Going that step further and escaping the bubble altogether, G and I spent a day exploring some of the North York Moors during his last visit which was absolutely wonderful. I was so pleased to have the opportunity to explore some of the gorgeous countryside and can’t wait to discover more over the next few years. Closer to home, this term we got to see York in the snow for the first time, and it was totally stunning.

 

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Universities want you to succeed

I struggled at the beginning of one of my modules this year because the teaching style wasn’t suiting me very well. At first I wasn’t sure what to do, but it occurred to me that since I’m paying for my degree I should get the most out of it as I possibly can. I spoke to my supervisor and before long she arranged for me to be switched to another class. Due to a timetabling fault, it turned out I actually couldn’t attend this one which was frustrating, but as soon as I spoke to the module convenor everything was fixed, and I was transferred to a new teacher and class which suited me so much better. Ultimately university isn’t like GCSEs and A-Levels with exam boards looking to fill quotas and catch you out – once you’re here, the university just wants you to do as well as you can, and aim to support you as much as possible to ensure you succeed.

 

How to ask for support

I never would have been able to make that switch – and enjoy the module far more as a result – if I hadn’t gone to my supervisor and asked for advice. Asking for help has always been something I’ve struggled with but it’s so important and I’m finally getting better at it. Whether it’s requesting headline ideas from the Nouse office or knocking on a friend’s door for a chat when I’ve been feeling down, it’s always paid off.

 

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Being ill at uni is the absolute worst

Asking for that help isn’t always easy though, least of all when you’re struck down with illness. At the beginning of week four I went to my Tuesday morning lecture not feeling 100% and left an hour later amazed that I hadn’t passed out because I felt so unwell. It wasn’t until the following Sunday that I started feeling myself again, and the entire week was just such a horrible experience – partly because of my illness, but also because I was so lonely. I went nearly two full days without speaking to another person which was so hard, and as time passed it only became more difficult to ask for some company and help. All I wanted was to be at home, but the only thing I could do was force myself to get through it.

 

Friendships get so much stronger in term two

I’m not entirely sure how, but in the first week back my housemate Greg and I ended up watching House of Cards with whiskey and trifle until five-am – twice. I’ve also become so much closer to the lovely girls in my house, and we were lucky to have the empty room filled by the lovely Beth in the last couple of weeks. Whether it’s been going out for drinks, trips to the amazing Student Cinema or just nights in talking everything over, I’ve already got so many memories with some incredible people, and I know now that I’ve got real, proper friends all around me at uni, in a way I honestly haven’t felt for years. People often say that it takes until at least the second term for friendships to really become secure and I’ve found that to be so completely true, and I meet new people at uni all the time.

 

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Finding a house for second year is equally simple and stressful

One of the most daunting things I could think of during my first semester was the fact that by the end of term two I had to have sorted a group of people to live with and a house to live in for my second year of uni. Organising the group I was going to live with was by far and away the hardest part – within perhaps two to three weeks I went from a group of five to a group of six to a group of three to a group of six again, and that final group included not one person from the original group of five I’d planned to be with. ‘Complicated’ doesn’t entirely cover it, but I think it’s all worked out for the best and I’m so excited for next year (a tv! a sofa!). In comparison with all this group switching, finding our house was remarkably easy; we visited four properties in total and signed all the contracts for our house just two days after looking around. I’ll be writing a more in-depth post on this in the next couple of weeks if you want to find out more!

 

The drama never stops

Why nobody has never made a reality TV show out of student life and accommodation I’ll never know; just when you think it’s stopped, something else kicks off. It’s so hard to catch a break sometimes, and there have been occasions when I’ve just wanted to close the door on it all and walk away. Admittedly, it is to be expected when so many young people are thrown together without warning, but it can be exhausting and make really settling in impossible. On the other hand, there’s always something going on to talk about, and it’ll all make a good story at some point in the future, I’m sure.

 

Goodricke College, Heslington East

 

This really is only a tiny snapshot of everything that went on this term – I’m always astounded at just how much can fit into just ten weeks. Right now the idea of leaving Norfolk and going back to York at the weekend is a bit of a struggle, but once I’m there I’m sure I’ll get right back into the swing of it. Next Wednesday I’ll be writing about my plans and goals for term three, so be sure to check back soon!

What did university teach you? Let’s have a conversation – comment below!

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6 Comments

  1. 07/04/2016 / 4:55 pm

    This is a great post Lucy and i’m glad you’re enjoying university life. I agree about the support. I attended uni in 2005 and i’m at university again currently and this time round there seems to be help everywhere you look, much more than last time round. I don’t know if that is because of the uni, or the subject, the decade or just because back then I was only 18 and didn’t look out for these things.
    I understand your illness problems too. I was ill just before Easter and although I did go to lectures (they were essential) I felt awful and living by myself meant that there was no-one to look after me either 🙁
    Amy at Amy & More

    • Lucy Furneaux
      08/04/2016 / 10:06 am

      Thanks so much for your kind words Amy! That’s really interesting – certainly issues surrounding mental health have become much more important and much less taboo in the last decade or so, but it could be any (or all) of the things you’ve mentioned.
      It’s so hard! Both terms so far I’ve been left bedridden for days in week 4 – I’m not looking forward to whatever this next term brings!
      I hope your studies are going well! Thanks again for stopping by 🙂
      Lx

  2. 06/04/2016 / 10:47 am

    Ah I love this Lucy, as always!
    Glad that you’ve been exploring York more and getting more settled in – it really is a lovely city 🙂
    I totally agree with you about drama etc. I wasn’t lucky enough to be close enough with anyone to live with properly until right at the end of uni, so I spent all my time in halls pretty much. I wish I’d had a nice house with nice housemates instead of a string of mostly random flatmates, but I guess it made me more tolerant/resilient haha…
    Have you watched Fresh Meat? It’s a comedy about uni life and has a lot of situations similar to the ones you’ve written about (and some a lot more outrageous!). Also has Jack Whitehall aka Rob from Team V’s doppleganger xD
    As I’ve said to you I’m really hoping to head over to York for a trip some time soon so I’ll let you know when I’ve made plans!
    Have a lovely day,
    Jenny
    x

    • Lucy Furneaux
      06/04/2016 / 11:41 pm

      Thank you so much Jenny!
      I know what you mean – the whole housemate thing is so weird. Some houses and flats just click and are best friends instantly, living together for all three years, but that must be a much rarer situation than it seems. I get on well on the whole with my house at the moment and have some pretty close friends there so it’ll be strange to change it all up again next year, but some variety can’t hurt.
      I’ve watched a few episodes of Fresh Meat and keep meaning to watch them all from the start as I’ve loved what I’ve seen! I’ll have to add it to my list for next term…
      Yes, be sure to give me a shout once you know if and when you’ll be about. My term ends on the 16th June so I’ll be around until then I think!
      Lx

  3. 06/04/2016 / 10:17 am

    To be honest, your university experience is very much how I imagined it to be. Reading about your life in York has made me envious, never having taken the opportunity to go to university myself. For the first time in decades, it is making me realise what I missed out on, by deciding not to go, back in the late 1960s.
    Keep writing about your life there, I always enjoy hearing about it.
    (One of my dog-walking friends has a son due to go to university in September. His second choice, after London, is York, and I have told his parents about what you have written.)
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Lucy Furneaux
      06/04/2016 / 11:38 pm

      That’s really fascinating – although I imagine my uni experience is different in some ways to what one in the 60s would have looked like. Still, I’m sure it was the best and right decision for you at that time! I’m looking forward to writing more about my third semester once I’m back in York his weekend.
      Thanks so much for mentioning my blog to your friend! I’m sure their son will do brilliantly wherever he ends up.
      Lx

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