Things Nobody Tells You About University

Number one: washing machines are so damn expensive it’s probably the main reason I’m broke.


There’s a lot of stuff out there to help you transition into university life, and to give you a general idea of what to expect when you arrive at uni for the first time. You’ll hear about time management, and that it’s okay to not make friends immediately (which is true, of course), and you’ll probably hear about the price of cheese.

But there’s definitely a few things that slip through the net. Like the prices of washing machines. I get that the stereotype of lugging your washing home every weekend has been around for a while, but usually I always saw it in the context of laziness and getting your mum to do it for you. And then I found out my washing machines cost £3 per wash. THREE WHOLE POUNDS. That’s more than a block of cheese!

Here’s some other things that nobody tells you about uni life (or that they never told me, at any rate).

You may be walking into the same shop, but don’t expect the same stock. Even in the same square mile. 

This goes for, in my experiences, Tesco Express in particular. There are three Express stores dotted along my typical route: behind my flat, by the guild half way across campus, and one on the other side of campus. Do they sell the same things? HELL NO. The one behind my flat is great if you want vegetables and cupboard things, maybe a few fresh dinner/dessert things. The one by the guild is great for fast frozen dinners and junk food, and the one across campus is great for everything lunch and snack-related.

Why, you ask? I have a theory. The first is under a load of student flats, the second is pretty central on campus so is great when you’re rushing home late, and the third is by the library – the place where snacks are the only thing that motivate you to finish your coursework.

The further away from the library you live, the more you’re likely to renew your books over and over. Even when you’re done with them.

I wouldn’t call it laziness, per se, more a combination of forgetting to take them with you when you leave the flat, and crumbling at the prospect of lugging 15 500-page textbooks a mile across campus. On the other hand, however…

You’ll probably end up forcing yourself to go to the library at 10pm so you don’t get a late fee.

Some inconsiderate person will have reserved the book you’ve not opened in the last six weeks, and you only remember this as you stare longingly at your bed in the evening, having finally closed your laptop. You’ll be so stingy by this point that you make the trip no matter how hard it’s raining outside. (I actually did this once, and it was raining VERY hard. I may or may not have persuaded a friend to meet me there with chocolate as an incentive for me to go. She’s a good friend.)

Do not underestimate how easy it is to go days (and sometimes weeks) without encountering your flatmates.

All the TV shows may suggest that the people you live with in first year will turn out to be your best buddies. In reality, it could go either way. I could count on two hands the amount of times I’ve run into one of my flatmates, and that’s over a period of almost eight months. I see the others somewhat more often, but… We all study completely different things, have completely different schedules and completely different sleeping patterns. Some flats just don’t click.

 

But, no matter what weirdness, inconvenience, and unwillingness to spend money you may encounter, you’ll miss it every time you leave for the holidays.

Katy x

Books That Shaped Teenage Me

I’m going to turn twenty at the end of this year, so I thought it’d be cool to recap some of the books I’ve loved the most over my teen years. Many of these have had quite a big impact on me and helped shape a lot to do with who I am now, and how I view the world. Most of these should be found in the YA, teen and tween sections of most good bookstores (Waterstones all the way, y’all).


The Skulduggery Pleasant Series – Derek Landy

Going right back to the start, I first discovered these books aged twelve (twelve counts, right?) and back then, the series was still being released. If you want a bigger rundown of these, I have written about them before – check that post out here! Essentially, they’re funny, lighthearted, magic-filled and badass. Highly recommend for anyone aged 11 up.

The Starcrossed Series – Josephine Angelini

These were great, using a high school setting and intertwining bits of Greek mythology into it. It involves a bit of romance, a lot of danger, and quite a bit of the Fates coming in and messing everything up, until eventually the Gods decide to come down and start an even bigger conflict. Ever since I discovered these, I’ve had such an interest in Hades and the concepts surrounding Zeus and the Underworld.

The Hunger Games Series – Suzanne Collins

Everyone’s got to have heard of these by now, but if you’ve only seen the films then I BEG YOU to read the books. I think these were what kickstarted my interest in the dystopian genre, which was a huge part of my mid-to-late teens, and still feature a lot in my reading interests. In addition, I used this series as part of my research base when I did my Extended Project in sixth form, which led me on to a vast array of other books as well, some of which I will get to shortly!

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The Waterstones in Liverpool One (it’s big)

13 Treasures – Michelle Harrison

I’m pretty sure I found this book when I was thirteen, stumbling across it in the bookshop. It’s been years since I read it, and I know there are follow-ups that I never got around to reading, but I remember loving this book. It’s got fairies in it, mischief, runaways… It was the perfect mixture of rebellion and enchantment.

Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell

I hated Animal Farm, but 1984 has so much to be said about it. It’s fascinating how much of what Orwell was writing about in the ’40s is directly relevant to today, and that’s exactly what I felt as I read it back in 2013 or 2014. It may not be a typically ‘teen’ book, but it definitely resonated with sixteen-year-old me.

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

Again, not typically a ‘teen’ book, but this was written way back in the early ’30s, and is credited with being the origin of the dystopian genre. I’d never heard of it before, and came across it during my Extended Project, but it’s full of fascinating topics also played on by modern series such as Uglies by Scott Westerfield. The use of recreational drugs, mind-controlling the masses, and creating the illusion of utopia where if you scratch beneath the surface, you find a much more sinister reality.

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

I honestly don’t remember exactly when I first read this book, but it was definitely early-to-mid teens. I didn’t really get it at first, perhaps because I was unused to the classic style of writing – but I watched the BBC TV series, then re-read it, and have loved it ever since. It definitely helped expand my reading interests and introduced me to the classics.

To Kill a Mockingbird & Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee

Everyone who’s been through school has probably read TKAM, and those who liked it have probably read GSAW. I first read TKAM for my GCSE English, but I did honestly love it. I was studying the Civil Rights movement in America for my history GCSE at the time, and it just resonated with me. It’s a brilliant narrative, and the way Scout just cannot understand people’s racism was exactly me when I was a child. The release of GSAW was just a bonus, and I know it was a bit controversial, but I loved it.

War Horse – Michael Morpurgo

Who couldn’t like this book? It was so moving and so utterly compelling, about such a tragic time in our history. No matter how old you are, this book should be on your ‘read’ pile.


And that’s about all I can think of at the moment! I realise the collection is somewhat eclectic, but I like reading different genres. It keeps life interesting. What were/are your favourite books as a teen?

Katy x

Like A Dream

Sometimes I feel like as my university life and my home life are so far removed from each other, that whenever I’m at one, the other feels like a dream.

Especially university. At Christmas I thought that if it wasn’t for social media, I’d not quite be able to believe that it was real. I’ve been home for two weeks and I’m slightly more aware of the reality of university this time, but it feels distinctly weird knowing that when I go back, I’ll only have six weeks before I’m home for the summer.

Is that weird? I mean, during the semesters I’ve not actually visited home. My parents have only visited once, back in October. I think it’s hard to conceive of both lives at the same time, because it does feel like two different lives – the one where I’m an independent-living degree student who goes to the gym and has lectures and lives up north… And the one where I’m living at home, feeling a bit aimless, under the watch of my parents.

I wonder if this is a common feeling. I mean, it is a weird thing, having half your possessions in one place and half somewhere hundreds of miles away. Having double the amount of toiletries so that you don’t have to cart them back and forth, you can just have one set there and one here. Having two places of residence with two different social circles and occupations.

Also, it’s true what they say – coming back feels far more weird than leaving ever does. If you don’t visit home all that frequently (or at all, in my case) for three months at a time, you get used to it. To be thrust back into the life you had before, for anywhere between three weeks and three months, is very strange.

That’s partially why I’m quite glad for the work I’ve got to do for uni. It’s like a reminder that I am actually achieving something, and I’m not just aimlessly in the same place I’ve always been. Not to mention that I do honestly enjoy my degree – it may be tough work, but it’s work that I find interesting. For the most part, the assignments I have are ones I like.

Let me know below if you’ve experienced anything similar – if you’re familiar with the feeling of this double life… And, finally, please go follow me on my socials!

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Katy x