It’s so surreal to think that three or so years ago I was a fresher sat in Eastwood, recording vlogs about my experience as a first year. And now I’m sat at my desk reminiscing about all of the years that have gone by and lamenting that I’m now four years older and only a touch more wiser.
I honestly don’t know where the time has gone, but in a few short months, I will be graduating with a degree in Psychology and leaving this wonderful city behind.
As I think back to my time here at Bath, I’ve learnt a lot of things along the way and I really wanted to share them with you guys.
It’s okay if the first year didn’t go the way you wanted to
Coming to university, I had a lot of expectations like everyone else. The uni experience has always been hyped up to be the best years of your life and where you end up meeting your lifelong friends and maybe even the person you end up marrying. The latter was actually said at the welcome talk during freshers' week.
I found that having these expectations in place but a lot of pressure on myself because I was always anxious about making the most of the experience and wondering why I hadn’t made those lifelong friends yet or met my future husband.
I think it definitely held me back in the first year because I ended up doing things because other people were doing it, rather than because I genuinely wanted to do it. And by the end of the first year, I had lived someone else’s experience of university, rather than create one for myself.
But it wasn’t totally bad! I realised after the first semester what was happening and made some changes so that come the second year I wouldn’t end up feeling the same way. I had slowly begun to find people I really connected with, I had a house ready for the next year with great housemates and I had a plan to make sure that I was being my authentic self in the second year and actually doing things for me.
It's never too late to try new things, even if you're in the final year. It's also worth remembering that everyone's university experience is going to be different and you shouldn't compare yourself to others. I didn't find my lifelong friends in the first year, that happened a few years later... I am still, however, holding out that I'll find my future husband before graduating.
Get the support when you need it
They aren’t lying when they say the jump from A level to degree level is huge. I was quietly confident about my abilities when it came to assignments; having achieved the entry requirements like everyone else, I thought I would be okay. When you’re so used to doing well, it can definitely come as a shock when you get your first piece of coursework back and it’s not what you expected. It was very disheartening for me and at one point I did reconsider whether I was cut out for university, but it’s important to remember that the lecturers and the university as a whole want to see you succeed.
The feedback that I received from assignments were so helpful and very guided so there were ways I could improve. But don’t be afraid to ask lecturers for clarity if the feedback isn’t clear. They have office hours for a reason!
Take advantage of the writing centre - they helped me so so much when it came to writing more critical essays; which was the area I struggled with most in the first year.
And lastly - reach out to your coursemates. They might be able to help with topics you’re struggling with and you might be able to help them with something else too.
Make the most out of your placement year
One of the main reasons I chose to study at Bath was the placement year, I genuinely believed and still believe that having this year-long experience gives you so much of an advantage when it comes to finding a graduate job.
I completed my placement at University College London (UCL) as a Research Assistant. I worked with two supervisors whose interests ranged from personality, big data and gamified assessments. I was involved in several exciting projects such as researching techniques to gamify how employers assess emotional intelligence in the same way they are able to assess risk in a gamified setting. I was also in charge of running a focus group as part of the development of a new interdisciplinary module that is now run for undergraduate students. My proudest achievement during my placement year was publishing an article in the Australian Journal of Psychology, this was such an incredible opportunity that I would not have been able to have achieved had I not been on placement.
However, a placement doesn't just provide you with additional skills for the workplace - it prepares you for what life is like post-education and that is equally as important. Whilst on placement I realised that it is not always easy to strike a balance between work and life, but it is so important too because it’s so easy to burn out if you don’t take time out for yourself. The same can be said for when we’re studying at uni. During my placement year, I started weightlifting and completed a coding course once a week in the evenings - just so it wouldn’t be eat, sleep, work repeat for an entire year! Which is very soul-crushing because that’s what I was doing at the start because I felt so tired and didn’t have the motivation to do anything else after work.
It’s also important to take advantage of every opportunity that is offered to you whilst on placement. There’s so much to be learned and gained from the people you work with, and we’re in such a unique situation it would be a shame to not make the most of it. I wouldn't have achieved everything I had during that year if I didn't take the initiative to ask for opportunities or volunteer to do things. Even if you aren’t 100% sure, still go for it because you can ask for help along the way.
Enjoy the ride
If you take one thing from this blog post, I want it to be this. Make the most of your time at uni. Do the things you want to do and that make you happy, spend time with your friends, explore the city and don’t get hung up on the little things. These next few years will fly by and you will miss it. I believe it’s better to have regrets than to be wondering years later… what if?
What’s next for me?
I will be taking a gap year to improve my Spanish and learn/experience the Spanish and Latin American culture.
And whilst I’m out there, I will be documenting my experiences post-uni as a fully fledged adult. These blog posts will be me exploring life coaching as a career. There’s a masters programme that I’m hoping to do when I get back, but in the meantime, I wanted to create content pieces on various topics that I’d like to focus on as a coach. Like empowerment, relationships and personal development. This is a very open-ended idea and I might do a complete 180 after a year, but that’s the beauty of being at this stage in life. It’s okay to try out new things, fail, make mistakes or change your mind. And you shouldn’t be afraid of that.
If my final year has taught me anything is that it's okay to not have life figured out. It's way more important to take your time to explore all of your options because there are so many. We have the rest of our lives to work, why rush into it?