It is scary to think about but in a months time I will be a university graduate with a BA Hons in Graphic Design (ahhhh!!). Even though I have uploaded a couple of posts in the past about university in general (10 tips on surviving university or University room tour) I realised I’ve never really written about my personal experience or what my intentions have been after graduating. Seeing as I’m down to my final few days as a student I reckoned now would be the perfect time for this post.
My University Experience
I decided to study graphic design at uni because it was something I had always had a keen interest in but didn’t feel confident enough to try and break straight into the industry. After multiple open days and interviews I set my heart on Norwich University of the Arts because the course seemed to be amazing and I loved the idea of being surrounded by creatively driven people. I absolutely loved my first year of university and found the course to be so interesting and inspiring but, if I’m honest, it seemed to go downhill once second year began. First our amount of contact hours dropped to about 5 hours a week and we no longer had workshops or trips out of uni. Then everyones grades seemed to drop by at least 10%, bit of a shock when you think you’re doing well! The most annoying thing however was it felt as if the tutors became biased towards certain students whose style of work they liked and more opportunities were often sent their way. Guess thats the problem with an art degree where there isn’t a right or wrong answer and its all down to personal preference.
As far as the social side of uni goes it was definitely a rollercoaster! In first year I lived in student accommodation with 10 others. I guess there was bound to be a certain element of drama when you stick a random group of 18 year olds in a flat together. Although I am still close with 8/10 of them I would say it wasn’t until my third year that I finally felt settled and with a solid group of friends around me. Looking back I do wish that I went to a larger university that had more societies to offer and, therefore, more opportunities to meet people but I wouldn’t change the bunch of pals I have now for the world.
I think the whole experience of going to university has really helped me to develop as a person, however cliche that sounds. It’s made me grow up and really taught me a lot about what I want to get from life. I’ve learnt the importance of friends and loyalty but equally not to be afraid to cut someone out my life who is bringing me more pain than joy. It has also provided me with some of the funniest memories to look back on (I will leave some photos below of my favourite times). Overall I have really enjoyed my time at uni, even if there are aspects of it I would liked to have changed, and I know that the day I have to pack my bags and finally leave is going to be a really difficult one!
My Future Plans
Apart from knowing that I want to be a graphic designer I have never really had a clear set path of what I wanted to do once I graduate. The closer it gets however I have decided that I am not ready to start my 9-5 office life just yet and would like to take the next year out to travel whilst I can. So far my plans are to work and save up until February then jet off to New Zealand and Bali for a couple of months. I will then come back home and carry on working to get some more money before then going out to America to spend a summer working at a camp. I say this all confidently as if I actually have everything booked (hahaha I wish) but still its nice to get ideas out there into the universe. For my travels across the world in February I want to go away with an arranged group/tour to begin with just to settle me in and form some friendships – if anyone has any recommendations for companies that provide this please leave them in the comments!
If however the traveling doesn’t work out, or I change my mind and want to go straight to working life, I think my plan will be to apply for as many internships and jobs in the graphic design industry as I can and hope that someone will take me on (fingers crossed all round please.) It is quite daunting to think that I will soon be kicking off my career but at the same time it’s in a field that I love and I am excited to finally be able to work on real life briefs! I will also of course try to keep up my blogging as much as I can and I hope this little blog will grow and adapt along with me as the next chapter begins….(I will leave this however on my favourite memory from uni, our scooby doo gang)
Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x
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I am still finding it hard to believe that I only have one year of university left, where have the last 2 years gone? I wasn’t sure what to call this post because I feel like the word ‘surviving’ makes it sound like some life-endangering challenge (which it definitely isn’t) but I would be lying if I said university was all smiles and rainbows!
So here are my tips to getting the most out of university through some do’s and don’t’s I have come to learn the hard way
- PEOPLE ARE MESSY – I am far from a clean freak but I was shocked to see how disgustingly dirty our kitchen got at uni (especially in first year when I was sharing with 11 people). My tip would be to share some kitchen utensils but keep your plates and cutlery to yourself because, believe me, some people will leave their washing up for weeks and you don’t want to have to resort to eating your cereal out of a pan.
- YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A PARTY ANIMAL TO ENJOY UNI – When people hear the word university they think of rowdy students drinking till their livers fall out every night and I can’t lie, it can be like this! BUT its not all like that and that side is definitely not compulsory so if you don’t feel like going out and drinking then don’t, I guarantee there will be lots of other people at your uni that feel the same way!
- GET THE BALANCE RIGHT – Aside from all the wild nights out university is also about studying and working towards a degree so its important you find the right balance between work and play. Don’t go out everyday and fall behind on your work but equally don’t lock yourself away in the library and miss out on fun experiences
- SAY YES TO EVERYTHING YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE DOING – Speaking of fun experiences, university offers so many opportunities from societies to just the random, funny things you will get up to with your friends now you’re living without your parents. Looking back you want to have as many memories as you can so challenge yourself a bit and try to yes as much as you can! BUT if you don’t feel comfortable or safe then walk away, its better to be safe than sorry.
- YOU MIGHT NOT MEET YOU BFFL ON THE FIRST DAY – During freshers week you will meet more people that you’ve probably ever known in your life and some, believe it or not, you might meet once and then never see ever again! It is a great time to socialise and form friendship groups but don’t panic if you don’t find your friends for life, they will come over time.
- EATING HEALTHY IS IMPORTANT – Now no one is expecting you to be Gordon Ramsay but living off pasta and chicken dippers really isn’t good for you! I got quite ill in my first year and bad eating habits had a very noticeably bad effect on my mental health so just add that broccoli and those apples to your shopping basket, believe me you will need them.
- DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY IT’S COVER – One of my favourite parts about uni is the wide variety of people that you will meet, some from completely different backgrounds to you. Everyone at uni has a story and a reason why they are there so don’t be judgemental towards anyone because you will be surprised who you have connections with in the end!
- THINK HARD ABOUT WHO YOU WANT TO LIVE WITH IN SECOND YEAR – One of the stupid designs of university life is, in most cases, you have to find a house for second year around christmas time of your first year. This means you will be choosing to live with people who you’ve only known for a couple of months. Friendships change all the time at uni so my tip would be to think really hard about who you feel comfortable around and who you don’t think you will have any issues with for the rest of first year. Also try and get a house close to your other friends so if worst comes to the worst and you have fallen out with your future housemates by the time second year starts you’re not far away from other friends!
- TOXIC POEPLE ARE NOT WORTH YOUR TIME – This is definitely something that took me a bit too long to learn. As I said there will be lots of like-minded people at your university so if there is someone that is making you feel uncomfortable, unwelcome or unhappy then they are not worth it. Keep your head up, walk away and go out and find people that appreciate you for you. (just to clarify I’m not saying to walk away from things after any tiny little problem but don’t stick around if you’re not happy, uni is different to school in the sense that you don’t just have one class/one year, you have 3 years worth of people to get to know)
- UNI IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT – I definitely started to adopt this mindset later into my second year and it made such a huge difference. I would always hear people saying university were the best years of their lives and it really got to me that mine didn’t really feel that way! Once I started to realise that it was only going to be amazing if I made it amazing things really started to look up. I started making more plans, therefore memories, with my friends and looked into getting more out of uni than just a degree and a major hangover! University can be the best 3 years of your life, you just have to put a bit of effort into making it.
There are my tips that I have learnt over my 2 years at university. If you have any of your own or anymore questions don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below!
Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x
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LIKED THIS POST? read my other post on University room tour