Zoe Iona Written by

Final year

BA (Hons) English

Hey! It has now been a few weeks from completing my dissertation, and I thought it would be a great moment to reflect on my time at Bournemouth University over the past three years. My time at university was a life-changing experience that I will always treasure. The ride was certainly not easy, but it was definitely worth it! Being the graduating class of 2020 meant that the last couple of months of my university experience was cut short due to COVID 19, but regardless of these challenges university was the best choice that I have made in my life so far, and I believe that it has not only given me the confidence to succeed academically, but it has also helped me to develop myself personally. I have learned how to become a more understanding and empathetic person. I have developed lasting mature relationships, experienced living with others, and understanding different peoples ways of life from various backgrounds. University is a great experience for those that have always lived in the same town to branch out and adapt, and to meet people from different places around the world.

Settling in and making friends

Bournemouth beach and pier

I applied for university later on as originally I did not believe that I was going into further education, I had another career path planned at the time. Then over the summer, I changed my mind. I went through Clearing to get onto the BA (Hons) English course at Bournemouth University. I was worried as I had never spoken to anyone who had been through clearing, but it ended up being a simple process for me as I remember applying for it, receiving emails back and I had a phone call with my course leader about why I wanted to study the course and they accepted me! So if you are trying to get into university through clearing it is worth a shot because people do drop out, or decide to study elsewhere. When I arrived at university it definitely took a while to settle in, so do not be worried if that is the same with you. In halls, I was lucky to live in a flat where everyone got along, but I know that this was not the same for a few of my other friends. My flatmates and I chose to move into a house together in the second year, but the relationships then seemed to change dramatically and we rarely saw each other. I realised that people can change, especially when living with them. I actually made the best of friends with my housemates in the third year as some of them were on my English course and so we also had similar deadlines and assignments etc. Some of the friends I had made also explained complications with housemates in previous years so do not worry if this happens! It is all a part of the process of adapting and learning that comes with going to university, and looking back on it I am personally grateful for everything learned from it, and I also made some lifelong friends along the way.

Missing home and keeping focused 

My uni halls in the first year (Corfe House)

Studying in my uni house in the third year!

There are going to be times when you may miss being at home or when you feel lonely, but the reminder that got me through was that university is only a short amount of time in your life. Think about the choices, possible sacrifices you made to study, and why you wanted to go to university in the first place! I had always perceived university as yes somewhere to go to meet friends and party etc. but also somewhere where you study and live your life independently. I think becoming more self-reliant was a large part of my reasoning for studying to see what I could achieve alone.  My goal was not to think about other things such as who I was missing back home, or getting stressed about living on a budget, but more about putting my energy into the main goal of what I wanted to achieve. It was this goal and plan that kept me going and anything else was irrelevant! 

University is really what you make it

My notebooks that are full of notes!

One of the books that helped me through my English course

Yes, you’ve probably heard this before, but it is certainly true. University is what you make it! If you would like to become more social you have the opportunity to join various clubs and societies from sporting teams to clubs such as the Cocktail Making Society! By joining societies it allows you to find interests and extracurricular activities that may not be as readily available after university, so it’s all worth it. There is truly a society for everyone so there is the chance to find a new passion, or make friends with like-minded individuals! University also gives you time for self-exploration when you’re not busy writing assignments, studying for exams or attending lectures (or missing them with a hangover). It really gives you the time to think about what interests you, and what you would like to do after you finish your degree. University for me meant that I could visit the gym whenever I wanted to, which is something that I might not be able to do as much now, or watch back to back tv series on Netflix! When else are you going to be able to go out and party on a weekday and get away with it? If I were to go back the only thing I would change would be to get more involved with societies and go out more! 

Study hard/ play hard

Finally! My completed dissertation

I think that this balance is so important during university and throughout your life! Work hard/ play hard means that you need a bit of both to succeed in either. I remember times when I would be trying to finish a deadline aiming to work eight solid hours a day for a week without going out and socialising, working constantly but this did not help me to complete my work! I think you need to enjoy yourself as well by seeing friends, calling a family member and having a long conversation, taking on a hobby or going to socials. But, when you are working set goals and keep to a plan. I did all my work earlyish to keep on track. Also, show up to lectures,  listen, take notes and get involved. It’s always good to give your full attention as you might pick up on something others haven’t which could maybe get you that extra mark!

Finally, one last note is that if you are starting university this year remember to cherish every moment as I can tell you the last three years have definitely flown by! Take every opportunity you can to better yourself whether that being academically, personally or socially. Try to remember that this is your experience to not only learn about your course subject but to really develop who you are and who you would like to become. University has been the best experience I have had so far, and I am now ready to put what I have learned into practice… Bye, for now, Bournemouth University, thank you for all of the memories!

Thank you for reading! What are your thoughts about university? If you are just starting out or have recently graduated leave a comment in the box below we would love to hear from you!

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