I remember after Year 12 when I first received my university offer. I was beyond excited, but also nervous at the prospect of my life changing. All I had known for the past thirteen years of my life was school; waking up at the same time, having routine classes, seeing the same friends and teachers, and doing it all again the next day. Uni was a foreign concept. Yes, it’s school as well, but it’s also a time to learn about adulthood, real life stress, deadlines, and independence.

Quite frankly, I didn’t know what to expect. But now that first year is done and dusted, I can safely share what I learned, and what I wish I knew before being thrown in the deep end.

1. It can be just as stressful as Year 12

It can be easy to think that once high school is over, we can live a stress free life. Uni is easy, right? We’re doing the degree of our choice, so classes must be a breeze, right?

Not really. Whilst it is a lot more flexible, especially as an arts student with only thirteen contact hours, there is still a whole lotta stress. One week you have virtually no study, and the next you have three 2000 word assignments, a test, an oral exam and a group presentation. Time management is key.

2. It gets lonely

As a student who didn’t live on campus, it was hard to make friends without stepping out of my comfort zone. I expected to walk into my first class, bond with my peers instantly, and be invited to several exciting parties like the ones I saw in American college movies.

The reality was sitting awkwardly between two strangers, forced to share three pieces of information about ourselves, followed by intense silence as the rest of the room finished their ice breaking.

As for lectures, when I wasn’t arriving late after sprinting from the tram stop, I was sitting by myself, looking around the lecture theatre as other students furiously typed on their laptops, wondering if I had missed something. And once the lecture finishes (sometimes even before), everyone evacuates as fast as possible, tumbleweed rolling past the lecturer only moments later.

3. You make a lot of new friends

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Whilst it takes time to get past the awkward, lonely, not knowing anyone phase, you eventually do make a bunch of really awesome new friends.

Join clubs and societies, attend uni parties and talk to people in your tutes. I found that everyone was just as desperate to make friends as I was, we were all just too shy to make the first move. But once you do take that step, you’re bound to make some lifelong friends.

4. You lose touch with old friends

At the end of Year 12, we promised we would catch up all the time and be best friends forever. But it’s just not that simple.

With different courses, timetabling, and a huge campus, it was hard enough catching up with friends at the same uni as me, let alone those who went elsewhere. I’ve learned to accept that part of adulthood is knowing that you might only see your friends a few times a year, but when you do, it’s like you never left each other. Of course there are also friends you drift apart from indefinitely, and that’s just life.

5. There is a newfound freedom

Say goodbye to those long seven hour school days, five days a week, 38 weeks a year. With uni, you make your timetable to suit yourself, sometimes resulting in only three days of classes. Lecture attendance is usually not compulsory, so you can always see a friend for lunch instead and watch it online later (or not). Not to mention the four months worth of breaks each year. It’s definitely a lot more freeing than high school and it’s so damn nice to not have someone on your back all the time.

By Emily Holgate