Guest posts, Living away from home, Settling in, Studying, Why University?

My Experience of University Life So Far

Everyone’s first semester at university is bound to be different. It’s a major step up from high school or college – bringing new friends, new places and new experiences. My experience has been a mix of both positive times and challenges which I had already anticipated before starting. After an interview with The Seren Network (a Welsh network designed to aid sixth formers achieve academic potential), I’ve decided to share my experience so far.

I have only been studying at Cardiff University for a few months. The transition from high school to university, for me personally, was a bit difficult. Generally, I’ve had an enjoyable time. However, like many other students, I had first-time nerves and missed home far more than I expected. It was initially difficult to make friends and I’ve had to learn to be a lot more independent. Despite this, I managed to quickly overcome these issues. I got involved in different aspects of university life. For example, I’ve joined the Harry Potter society and used this to make friends. Living just half an hour away from home has also helped me manage the transition as well and really enhanced my experience.

Why did I choose Cardiff? As a Russell Group university, it was an ideal choice as I wanted to aim high. I went to an Open Day and the English department was amazingly displayed. The course seemed really fascinating with lots of choice in terms of the modules. It’s almost as if you can design your course exactly the way you want. As well as the great reputation, I was drawn to Cardiff for personal reasons. It’s only a short distance from home which is perfect for me, as I know I can suffer quite badly with homesickness. Having lived nearby for all of my life, I was already quite familiar with the city which helped the transition even more.

So far, the highlights have been my lectures. I love to learn new things, and couldn’t wait to get back to it, especially having been away from education since June. Fortunately, they have all been informative and incredibly interesting. Doing a joint-honours has meant that I get to study two subjects, which prevents either one getting boring. I’ve never studied Journalism or Media before and it’s fascinating learning the history and theory behind it. English has also introduced me to new ways of thinking, which is exciting!

Outside of my studies, I get to see my family a lot and I’m also still in touch with friends from school. As well as this, it’s great having the independence to experience city life. I spend a fair amount of time walking the streets of Cardiff (everything is in walking distance) getting familiar with living in a city rather than a town. I especially love the parks in Cardiff – they’re beautiful in Autumn because of the colours. I recommend a visit!
It’s been fantastic to meet people in person that I got to know over Facebook during the summer. There were a few Facebook groups set up for people that would be studying the same course, and I’ve made friends with some lovely people who I can sit with in lectures and relax with in a coffee shop.
Cardiff is also the home of many popular TV programmes – such as Doctor Who and Sherlock. The new Journalism building is right next door to the new BBC building, a perfect location for someone with an interest in a career in Journalism, like me.

Thankfully, the application process was straight-forward. The course didn’t require any interviews or tests. The only tricky bit was the personal statement but thanks to help from the Seren Network, I managed to perfect it. The Rhondda Cynon Taf hub co-ordinator encouraged us to send our personal statements to be reviewed by him before sending them off, which was a huge help. It was also helpful to meet speakers and instructors that had previously studied at Cardiff, giving us an insight into what tutors at Cardiff would be looking for. My teachers at school were also extremely helpful alongside the Seren Network, encouraging me with their own tips and pointers.

If anyone is thinking of applying to university, here are some tips. Number one; make sure that you have a strong personal statement that reflects your passion for the subject you’ve applied for. This will set you apart from other applicants. Secondly; there can be a lot of pressure to apply to certain universities, but you need to apply to the one you think you’ll enjoy the most and get the most out of. I felt like I’d enjoy my time at Cardiff, did my research and weighed up the pros and cons. I like to think I’ve made a very good choice!

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