So I thought I would share with you some of my experiences from the first week of university (back in 2014)!
To start with, the first day. I was so incredibly nervous in the months leading up to uni, but once I stepped out of the car I felt strangely at home.
My organised ‘moving in’ folder in hand, I went to find where I was meant to go. Upon arriving in Block 4, Beaumont Hall (now known as Knighton court – but back then it was soon to become ‘home’) I rushed to my room, yet to meet anyone.
My mum and aunt helped me to unpack my things and I proceeded to the kitchen where I exchanged small talk with my first housemate and now good friend, Alex.
I then met Molly, now one of my closest friends.
“Oh Hi I’m Scarlett… What’s your name? How’re you finding it?”
“Yeah good thanks! I’m Molly. What about you?” (In the most standard British accent)
“Good! Are you from Scotland?” (I don’t know what I was thinking/hearing – I was nervous okay!)
“Erm no…I’m from Hertfordshire…”
Great. I embarrassed myself within a minute of meeting someone.
But the moral of the story? Don’t worry. Everyone is nervous. Funny and embarrassing things will happen, and people tend to love you more for them (I mean Molly and I still laugh about that even two years later, and she’s still putting up with my silly comments).
Once the unpacking had finished we went into the communal area and a teary-eyed aunt and mother left me as a crowd of guys walked up the stairs. My other housemates.
And so uni life began.
We all chatted and exchanged names, which we soon forgot (“Molly, can you remember their names?” “Nope, not a clue. I think the one with glasses is called Harry but I’m not entirely sure. We’ll just wing it.”) A barbecue and a welcome talk later and we had all learned a few things about each other. They learned I love food. Namely cheese.
We then headed to Asda to get some supplies for the evening. Standing in the way of everyone we all decided to exchange numbers in an aisle. We had no idea what we were doing but being part of this disorganised, disorientated gaggle made it all feel alright. Okay so I probably shouldn’t post this story but…
I only turned 18 that May so hadn’t gone to the shops to buy any alcohol of my own yet.
So when I purchased my alcohol and walked out of the shop with my now housemate and best friend Andy, and the alarm sounded, we looked at each other and I retorted “oh… must be you!”
Unbeknown to me that I had forgotten to wait for the shop assistant to take the tag off.
So when we got back to the block and I pulled out this bottle with the tag still on I got “OH MY GOD YOU STOLE THAT?!?!!”
I was mortified.
And so the kleptomaniac/thief jokes ensued.
First impressions just aren’t my thing okay?! (2016: Mum – “Scarlett why do you still have that old bottle?!” “It’s sentimental!”)
We had a wonderful evening of drinking and chatting, getting to know each other. We were building our family. It was on that night that our group was christened ‘Fennel’ since Andy in the game Ring of Fire (where part of it is naming categories of things) chose himself the category of fruit and vegetables but then gave the answer of ‘fennel’. “FENNEL IS LEAVES” we screamed. It was hilarious.
And so fennel was born.
Not to mention we found a lovely inflatable shark while we were out in town which was to be our block mascot, which we named Fennel.
The next morning I woke up late and missed the catered breakfast so I was faced with a dilemma.
“Okay I don’t have cereal or milk, but I do have crumpets. Great!”
“Oh no… my toaster is coming tomorrow. What now?”
The sad realities of adult life.
“Okay… I have chocolate… or I have tuna…”
“Tuna it is!”
More stressful events unfolded…
I couldn’t work my new can opener. Absolute travesty.
So I knocked on Alex’s door and a sleepy Alex answered.
Bearing in mind I had only known this girl for 24 hours…
“Erm.. I can’t use my can opener, could you help my open my can of tuna pretty please?”
Hilarious. Embarrassing. Again.
You can see a pattern emerging here.
So I sat in this alien and now very messy communal area eating my bowl of tuna. Student life huh?
Then came trying to navigate my way around campus. I have zero sense of direction so when I finally found the law school I was so happy (it’s all about the little things!) I was trying to live by my self-taught advice and talk to everyone, so I made some friends in the queue for registration. And they still use that photo from the first day when you register for tutorials so 1. I wish I’d know that because 2. I would’ve made sure I looked nicer! I managed to find my way back to the Students’ Union to have lunch with Fennel (block 4 people in case that didn’t make any sense). Ryan and I were chatting and he introduced me to some people he’d met. You just meet so many new people at uni.
I really loved (and still love, actually) how much of an open and social space the SU is. And now it’s got even better because there’s a Mexican food stool and they do fab burritos.
CHEESE BOWL. One of my highlights of first year. Okay I let my love of cheese get the better of me. I shall calm my excitement. What I meant to speak about was being catered. This meant that we had breakfast and dinner cooked for us. I loved it! You get a choice of 3 or 4 meals, so as long as you’re not too fussy, it’s amazing. I was so overwhelmed and excited for our first meal I just couldn’t choose between salmon and roast chicken.
It was one of my favourite things about first year. All sitting around one big table having chats about our days, it was so cute. We were like a little family. Sitting down and having a meal together is one of the best times for bonding.
Later in the year when I would stay in the library later I would message my friend Dan because he would go to dinner later. We would sit there for a good hour or so. He would teach me about technology and medicine, and I would teach him about politics and law. Don’t take those small moments for granted. If you can make it back for dinner, do. It could be the building of a strong foundation for your friendship, as it was for Dan and I.
But back to the cheese bowl. In Beaumont they had a bowl of grated cheese which you could put on your dinner. It brought me a lot of joy. However, one day there was no cheese bowl so I went to investigate. They said they only had a little left so they gave me my own little bowl. Miracles do happen!
And I was infamous for my love of cheese, and putting copious amounts on every meal.
University is weird like this – as I will explain to you over the course of the next year.
You meet people in the weirdest ways, and build your friendships in the strangest ways too. And everyone is a little odd, and very nervous, so even if you do something embarrassing, they’ll probably love you more for it. Being genuine and putting effort into your friendships is all that really matters.
These people from my block are now my absolute best friends. I lived with Andy and Molly last year, and now we just Skype Molly from our new house as she’s on a year abroad in America. I go swimming with Dan every Saturday for a catch up, and the Fennel crew still head out on nights out together.
Don’t waste an opportunity to get to know someone because they may just be the best thing that’s ever happened to you!