It’s August, A level results day is looming, and in less than a month term will be starting at universities all across the UK. For those of you hoping to be going to one of those universities for the first time, you don’t need me to tell you that it’s a daunting time. For me, though, this will be my third year at a UK university, so here are my tips for starting uni! Continue reading “Tips For Starting Uni”
Here in the UK, exam season is beginning to come to an end. Many current uni students are already starting their summers, while future uni students are still focused on working their hardest to get the grades they need. But in just a few weeks, they too will have a long summer to look forward to.
So how best to use that time to prepare oneself for uni?
Here are a few things I wish I’d done, plus a few other things that I’d recommend doing. Continue reading “Things To Do To Prepare You For Uni”
Previously, I’ve written about how great an experience university is (you can find that post here) – but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Not everyone is cut out for studying. And good Lord, do you have to do a lot of studying.
And let’s not even talk about the debts you’re getting into – on top of massive tuition fee loans, most students also rely on maintenance loans. As previously discussed, studying is full time, except instead of getting paid for it, you’re charged ridiculously huge sums to do all this hard work, and then find a way to pay for rent, bills and food as well. Getting a part-time job will inevitably decrease your studying time (that you paid all that money for!), and watching your savings disappear with no source of income can certainly be nerve-wracking (I could’ve bought a car, or seen the world, or carried on saving up for a house with those! But no, apparently I need them to survive now).
Then you can add mental health issues to all that stress – looking at all the above, is it really that surprising that, according to The Guardian, 78% of students suffer, or have suffered, from mental health issues? Of course, these problems can only make any previous issues worse, and because they’re difficult to talk about, finding the time (and the will, and the courage…) to get help unfortunately is only an additional source of stress.
Speaking of feeling free, leaving home to go to university gives you a whole new sense of independence. You get to come and go as you please. You get to make whatever food you like at whatever time you like. You can spend time with whoever you want for as long as you want. For me, this has taught me things about myself I didn’t even know. I have discovered that I love experimenting with food and trying new things, even though I’ve always been quite a picky eater. I’ve also realised that I have a tendency to try and do things on my own, without asking for help – and consequently, that this isn’t always a good thing, and that it can feel good (and totally not as scary as I thought it would be!) to share my thoughts, plans and ideas with others.
I see uni as a stepping stone to adult life: you’ve moved out of your parents’ house, but you’re not living on your own yet. You have to cook and clean for yourself, but you’re with other people who are also learning how to do that. You have to budget your money and your time, but you have the support of the uni – personal tutors, advisers, and other welfare staff – to fall back on if you need help. It’s a safe space to learn to be independent and grow your confidence so that you’re ready for the adult world.
All this independence and confidence boosting has ultimately shown me that the Big Wide World is not as scary as it sounds. Thanks to my involvement with the Creative Writing Society, I have an idea for what career I want to go into after I get my degree. And more impressively, considering how scary I found it before, I’m actually looking forward to life after university.
But university isn’t all positives, and its pressures are another reason why I’m looking forward to leaving. And if you’re reading this while wondering whether university is for you, you’ll need the full picture – not just the benefits – before you decide. So, here is my post on the cons of university life.
I’ve been at university for a bit over a week now, and started my Linguistics with German degree course two days ago. At the end of the seminar I had today, our group was asked: “why do you all want to study linguistics? What about it makes it interesting to you?”
When I tell people I’m studying linguistics, many of these people ask me: “what languages?” They assume that they know what I am talking about, but they forget, or maybe don’t realise, that there is more to a language than knowing how to use it to communicate. Linguistics is the scientific study of language as a concept, from phonetics (speech sounds and how we make them) to sociolinguistics (how social factors such as class, sex, age and ethnicity affect the way language is used) to syntax (the structure of sentences). But things like that often don’t cross people’s minds. After all, they have been speaking their language for years; what more is there to know?
That’s why I find linguistics interesting. Those of us who, for example, can’t programme computers know very well that we can’t programme computers. But not many people know just how much they don’t know about the sentences they build and the sounds they form into words every day. It’s like a hidden science, it’s like a secret society. You don’t know it’s there until you really stop and think about how you don’t need to be psychic to place images in other people’s heads, you can just put one word after another in a specific way and providing that they speak the same language as you, they can rebuild the image in their heads just as you described it to them.
And the person doing the describing doesn’t even have to be anywhere near you for them to communicate that image. You can make little inks marks on paper, and these little ink marks have the power to take strangers on journeys around the world, to inspire them, to entertain them or to break their hearts. You don’t need magic to cast a spell on people; you just need words.
If you think about it, all language is is a load of sounds, and all writing is is some funny squiggles, and yet we can understand them. And we take it completely for granted; we don’t know how we do it, and we don’t even think about how we do it, we just do it. Doesn’t that say something amazing about the human brain? Because nobody told you how to put a sentence together, but you still know how to do it. Well, you say, it’s just common sense. So does that mean that you were born knowing that the adjective goes before the noun (eg, “the sneaky fox”)? Does that mean you were born knowing that it makes sense to say “the fox will hunt the rabbit” but not “the fox will the rabbit hunt”? If we were all born knowing these things, then why does the adjective come after the noun in French, and why would “the fox will the rabbit hunt” be a perfectly grammatical sentence in German?
Language is a mystery but that doesn’t stop us using it every day. Language is powerful and strange, but language works in so many ways we don’t understand, and personally I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to find out all it’s secrets.