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Student view: starting uni

In this video, Lilian and Jessie discuss their experiences of starting uni and what those early weeks of settling in and meeting new people are like.
So the first few weeks at uni are always really hectic. I’m here with Jessie, who’s an English student, and we’re just going to talk about our first few weeks at university and just reflect back on our experience. So how did you feel about coming to university? It was different than I had originally expected, but it’s been positive in a different way than I thought it was going to be positive. Different aspects have been better than I thought they would be. Yeah, so what aspects have you found good? I’ve already liked the learning side of it. I’ve found the dynamic between lecturers and students really positive and uplifting.
Yeah, they’re really interactive and things like that aren’t they– Yeah, and it feels a lot more like–. At school, it felt they needed you to tick boxes. But here, they want to know what you have to say. It’s a lot more open. Grading is a lot different in the sense that you don’t have to say, tick those boxes and be the perfect student.. Yeah, exactly. You can put your own touch on it and still have that good grade. And it feels like they care about you as an adult individual.
I’ve had really good experiences, especially with the Student Support Centre. There was drama with my timetable and they were super efficient about it and super encouraging about it. And I felt like they were going to do what they could to make it better for me. And I’ve had very good experiences with the Disability Service at Reading as well, just in terms of making sure I feel comfortable with the arrangements being made for me. It feels very uplifting. Yeah, I’ve had really good support with like, during exam periods especially, because we had a bit of a family issue. And just being able to know that I can resit an exam if I need to, and when, and where, and the support.
And everyone talks to you about it. It’s really nice and supportive as well. Yeah, definitely. Which is a lot different to school where, if you need help, you kind of just get put in a room with everyone else who needs help. And then they just talk to you, and it’s like a big group. And it’s very impersonal at school. It’s a lot more personal at university. Like I say, they do treat you a lot more like an adult, and it’s really nice. It is. It’s a lot more independent as well. And the flip side of it, that you’re left to do things the way you want to do them. It’s not like in school again with the ticking boxes.
It’s not like, this is how it has to be done. It’s more like, this is one way, this is another way. You do what feels comfortable.
So are you in halls at the minute? Yeah. Are you enjoying it? For the most part, yeah. I’m an only child, so it feels really weird for me to be surrounded by people all the time, which I think was actually my biggest adjustment, was living with people. But it’s really nice. We have flat movie night every week, and people share their food. And I’ve really liked having like– I can just but– If I’m having a bit of a freak-out, I just burst into my flatmates’ rooms. I did that stuff in my first year. And be like, help, please! And it’s really nice.
I think my issue with it was I felt really pressured immediately to become best friends with everyone in my flat, which obviously isn’t organic. And it took time to solidify my friendships with the people in my flat, but I think it’s just like life. It’s going to take time to actually– Yeah, definitely. –be friends, I think. I’ll never forget my parents dropping me off, helping me unpack, mum made my bed for me. And then they were like, OK, so we’re going to go. Have fun. You’ve got lasagna in the freezer. Just cook it in the microwave. You’ll be fine. And I was like, OK. And going into our kitchen and there must have been four people in there already.
And we’re just going, hi. Yeah.
There’s one thing that I really like about my particular flat is I’m 19, but our flat ranges from 18 to 24. Yeah, mine was like that in my first year. So there’s a really nice range of people who have had a lot of life experience, who haven’t necessarily had much. It all comes together to– Yeah, my course ranges from 18 to 30s, 40s, and it’s really nice in that sense because it’s surprising, but everyone gets along. And no one really knows your age at uni. They just all assume that you’re in that age range of 18 to 20.
But then when you hear someone say, oh, I’m 26 and took a gap year, and then you learn so much from them. Yeah, exactly. It’s like, wow. That’s basically what I want to do. Why are you at uni now? And they’re like, oh, because I need– I want to get a degree.
I’ve met people through my course, through who I live with, and also societies and stuff like that. Because especially just going out with a society and doing something that you’ve never done before, because I do sign language. And I’d never done that before and I never had the opportunity at school. And now I love it and I teach it on Mondays. And it’s just really fun, and I’ve met so many people through that. Yeah, I think for me, I’ve struggled making friends on my course, just because you can’t talk to people in lectures. You can’t talk to people in seminars.
And it all comes down to someone making the first step of, oh, do you want to hang outside of these things? Yeah. Which I’m not the type of person to do that. I need to wait for someone to do that to me, which has made it a bit harder, but– I think a lot of people are like that though, because– –it comes eventually. –like you say in the lecture, you can’t really start having a conversation with someone about what they did at the weekend. It was a big learning experience, but it was a really good one.
I just I think– I think I’m learning more from the social side of it than I am from my course at the minute because it’s so different from everything I know, that I’ve done in school before. It’s a really different way of making friends, because you’re not just all put in a form room that you sit in for 20 minutes before you go to your lessons. You go to your lectures and then you leave your lectures. And then you go to a seminar and you leave, it’s not really like– you don’t have lunch time together. But it’s also quite easy to meet those people that you kind of learn that you’re like and you get along with.
And then being like, OK. I really get along with you, because everyone who I live with now does a different course. So I study psychology. We have zoology, speech and language therapy, maths, and finance. And no one does the same course– That’s really interesting. –but we all get along really well. Yeah. And I think it helps in a way that no one does the same course, because we all kind of learn from one another. And also, you have something different to talk about rather than, how was the lecture that I was in with you? Yeah.

In this student to student discussion, Lilian and Jessie discuss their experiences of starting uni and what those early weeks of settling in and meeting new people are like.

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