Before I write this I wanna be clear I don’t wanna put anyone off going to university, I’m actually writing this because I’m considering going back and I keep remembering all the things I liked whilst ignoring how truly crap I felt in the few months I was there. So I decided to write this blog post for that particular purpose and also maybe for anyone else who’s currently at university and hates their life – to remind them they’re doing better than me.
I went to a university in London which I won’t name in 2015. I went to the same university as my friend Jess but we lived in different dorms. Jess left on Halloween and I followed a few weeks later much to my parents disappointment. I think it was a number of things that made me quit so I’ll start with when I first felt crap.
Fresher’s Week. My home town is three hours away from London so I know what you’re thinking ‘oh of course you felt home sick’. Not really. My home town is Telford and I don’t exactly love the place so I was over the moon to be in London. However I wasn’t a fan of my dorm.
When I got there it was long corridor with about 27 other people on it or something ridiculous like that. I spent most of my time with Jess during the first couple of days so I didn’t really meet anyone on my dorm except for at breakfast where I met three girls who were quite nice. Me and Jess would hang out for most of the day then I’d head back to my dorm at night and that was when I felt my worst.
University is known for being full of students who drink and party but I hadn’t realised it would be in the dorm pretty much every night. I don’t drink and I’m quite socially awkward so I’d see the kitchen crammed full of people and think ‘oh God I’m not getting involved in that’. It sucked because I’d come home at about 7PM and think ‘I’m starving, can’t wait to have dinner’ but I couldn’t make any because the kitchen was full to the brim of people drinking and partying. My Mom was like ‘just go in and make food, no one will mind’. It was so full there was literally no room to make food even if I’d felt confident enough to.
A whole week went past of me not knowing anybody and feeling too shy to introduce myself until eventually one of the girls I’d met at breakfast dragged me out of my room and introduced me to everyone. And to be fair to them they were all really nice – I just had to endure a few jokes at first about how they ‘finally knew what I looked like’ and a few people referred to me as the ‘mysterious Hollie’.
As I said, they were all really lovely but I didn’t particularly fit in. They slept for most of the day and stayed up drinking and partying all night whereas I wanted to be in bed by 11PM most nights – look, sleep is important and I love sleeping. I did have some good times with them though like when we crowded into the kitchen to watch ‘Horns’ or the nights we played on the Wii.
But I wasn’t really close to anyone and I felt like there were occasions where I’d talk and no one would listen – and it wasn’t them that I blame, it happens to me a lot when I hang out with people who I’m not fully friends with, it happens a ton with strangers (people push in front of me in queues all the time because I’m just invisible apparently). I just have that kind of personality I suppose. I can’t 100% blame my dorm mates for my feelings of loneliness because they did try their best. I feel like a few of them could’ve turned into friends if I’d put in more effort and I hadn’t, you know, quit.
I also ended up getting an embarrassing reputation as being really clumsy because in an effort to make friends with them I took in the leftover birthday cake Jess had made for me to offer them and just as I was about to put it on the table I dropped it on the floor. They made fun of me for ages – in a joking way obviously, none of it was malicious but because they all made me nervous because I generally am around people I don’t know that well I ended up dropping a lot more things and generally being clumsy, and they’d tease me every time.
Another thing was that we kind of had different routines. They were all more than happy to hang out from the moment they woke up to the moment they went to bed and as an introvert I’m not like that. I’m happy to have about 2 hours of socialising before heading back to my room and not speaking to anyone for the rest of the night. Having a shared bathroom didn’t help because I couldn’t even go for a pee without passing someone I was living with.
I feel like if I’d stuck at it I could’ve maybe gotten used to my accommodation because really the only thing I didn’t like was that I got nervous if I went to make food if there were people in the kitchen (again, my fault not theirs) and when everyone drank and generally made a ton of noise in the corridor whilst I was trying to sleep. But unfortunately I also wasn’t a fan of the classes.
My motivation for studying has always been low, I’ll be honest. At college my attendance was dreadful because I’d have mornings where I woke up and thought ‘ugh can’t be bothered’. The only lesson I really tried at was Film Studies because our teacher was brilliant. My English Language teacher was brilliant too but unfortunately there were two boys who had bullied me in Secondary School in that class who made me feel uncomfortable every second I was there. I had no motivation for Philosophy of Religion and Ethics, what a yawn.
I thought being at university would be different because I’d be studying something I loved which was ‘Creative Writing’. I was wrong. My motivation was low and I felt like the support I was receiving from my teachers was a lot less than I’d had at college which I didn’t think was right considering I’d gone to college for free but was now paying £9000 a year and receiving not a lot.
It didn’t help that I failed my first assignment. I failed at first by not handing it in on time (luckily a ton of other people didn’t either so I didn’t get singled out) and then when I eventually did hand it in it was sent back with a ton of harsh notes about how it was completely wrong. I had no motivation to begin to correct it and I decided that I was done with university. If I couldn’t be bothered to study then what was the point?
I returned home mid-November and came back to collect my things in December. It was embarrassing having to pack up and move home but at the time I felt like I’d made the right choice. But watching all my friends who had stuck at it reach the end of their courses made me wonder if I had made the right decision.
After quitting I looked for a new job for a while before I was accepted back at my old job at a Victorian museum. I worked there until the start of 2017 when my contract abruptly ended but luckily I’d been accepted as an apprentice in an office. I’m currently still there and I’m beginning to think that perhaps I don’t really like working in an office either. And I’ve got it in my head that returning to university could solve my problems even though I think I’ll face many more of the problems I already had.
Is it worth getting into that much debt if I’m not 100% certain it’s for me? Quitting once was embarrassing, doing it a second time would just be absolutely mortifying so I know that if I do make the decision to return to university I will need to stick at it.
The trouble with me is that when things get difficult I start to remember other things through rose tinted glasses. I hated college but every so often I’ll think back and wish I could return. I don’t like my current job so I’ve got it in my head that university is the solution.
I’m not stupid and I know not to rush into any decision so I’m taking my time. If I decided to go back it’d be in September 2019 and I’m spending time researching different universities, courses and speaking to as many people as possible (especially my friends who are currently about to graduate!).
There were some other factors that I don’t think helped. When selecting my university of choice I only visited one and decided it was for me straightaway. I have three best friends and three of us went to university whilst one of us got an apprenticeship. Becca, the one with the apprenticeship, seemed the happiest out of all of us and so slowly but surely each of us dropped out of university. If my closest friends had gone and loved it would I have stayed? Did we influence each other to drop out? We’ll never know I guess.
If you went to university then please feel free to leave me some advice, especially if you hated it or spent a few years out of education before deciding to go. Most people think it’s a good idea for me to go back but my parents don’t and I can see why – they don’t want to watch me fail again and I don’t want me to fail either which is why I’m so stressed. I don’t know what to do or how to figure out what I want to do. Any advice is appreciated!