My time at university.
So, I thought I'd restart my blogging by writing about something that is, in theory, quite an easy topic to write about. I'm going to re-evaluate my time at Portsmouth University, looking back on the the three years and how I felt about each of them.
It would be very remiss of me to not talk a bit about my time in Year 13 as my experience of this year was a good precursor to my university experience. I'd spent most of my time at school as a quiet individual who was happy to talk freely with a few friends while seeming silent to everybody else. In Year 12 and 13 (but Year 13 more so), I found myself getting more comfortable in social situations and making small talk with people around me, which also included several parties out of school as well. "Coming out of my shell" would be a very apt saying, my friends knew there was more to me than just a silent boy who gets on with his work but I'm glad I managed to present myself better to everyone else during that year.
Now, let's start from the beginning for my university experience. Even before university began, I'd used Facebook as a means of talking to people heading to the same halls. On results day, I saw statuses pop up from these people celebrating the fact they got in to Portsmouth University and I instantly messaged them and congratulated them, looking to spark some conversations and get a head-start on friends. However, those conversations didn't really lead anywhere and looking back now, I think I was simply trying too hard to make friends. However, I'm very glad I'd employed that strategy.
On the first night I was in halls, I was invited down to the common room by one of the people I'd friended on Facebook where loads of residents in halls would be that night. So, I came down and said hello to three people in that room and before I knew it, the room was filled up with freshers. I remember we sat in a circle for some kind of drinking game (and there's me with no drink) and I was sat nowhere near the three people who I'd met earlier and had managed a decent conversation with. This, along with other moments in the year, showed me I still had a long way to go socially. I couldn't start a conversation with the people either side of me and then people began to form their groups for going out and I was just sat there, so I just headed back to my room.
My first thought after this was along the lines of "that's 35 people I've lost forever." Things didn't go much better the next day, going down to breakfast, picking a random table and trying to start a conversation, that also led to nothing. Luckily, the person who had invited me down to the common room two nights before invited me down to dinner (as we were in catered halls.) with a couple of other people she had met and I am pleased to say we are still good friends to this day. This helped me get in to an initial group of friends in halls. This is where I realised I hadn't got over another issue. I wasn't too keen on the group expanding much more, just like my days at school where I would almost seem to settle after a certain number of friends. I am glad the group did expand though as many people in the initial group rarely went on night outs following the first few months.
As for the course itself, I enjoyed my studies in first year but I struggled with making friends on my course in the
first semester so I was reliant on my friends from halls for my social progress. Even then, seeing everybody everyday at dinner time was another test of social ability where on many occasions, there was nothing new that had happened since the last day. In school, I used football talk from Year 9 onwards to create conversations from nothing and then suddenly find myself talking to a whole group of people, none of whom watched football. This definitely helped to test my conversational range. Nights out for first and second year were very similar experiences, I didn't drink much. The reason for this was firstly because I hadn't really found out what my alcoholic beverage of choice was and secondly, I could enjoy myself without it. When people around me were drinking, that seemed to relax me and make me loosen up as much as a drink would.
Second year is a strange year because there doesn't seem a lot to say. I lived on my own in 2nd year which gave me a nice balance of socialising and keeping to myself, not feeling the pressure to think of something new to talk about every day. This was a much better year for me socially on my course but the only unit that stood out in the 2nd year was the Sports Journalism unit. It was pleasing that I got an A in my NCTJ Sports Journalism test as the majority of that was based on football reporting so it proved I could do it well. There were more additions to the group of friends which I was still cautious about (for some reason) and once again, I was wrong.
Overall, third year was a brilliant year for me. Just a couple new additions to the group this time which I was much more welcoming of this time around. The dissertation was the thing of nightmares for most third year students but I'm pleased and relieved to say I was never overwhelmed by it. People say it a lot but you should definitely choose something you're interested in, it's why I think i remained on top of it throughout. I got to write and research on football which, as I have already mentioned, is a perfect subject to me. The other unit in this course that stands out in my mind was the Press and PR. After two years of Journalism, it was refreshing to get a subject that was just a bit different and new. For most of the weeks, I got to work with a group of people who I easily got on and it was fun coming up with promotional ideas, particularly ones involving word play.
This was certainly the best social year of my life. The majority of people in the group I had built a good rapport with and conversation came easily. This is also when I found out I rather liked cider. So I started to drink more on nights out which helped me to feel properly relaxed without binging or suffering from memory loss (except for one time). Subconsciously, I was intent on enjoying myself even more in my final year, knowing that it was the last year where social gatherings would be a common occurrence.
Graduation day was a great experience, officially finishing university with a 2.1 in Journalism and English Language which was a fair result for me. Then, to cap it all off, the graduation ball occurred which I would consider to be one of the best nights of my life. I had been drinking throughout the night but at no point did I even feel drunk. I had the confidence of a drunk person with the functionality of a sober person which kept me in an eternally happy mood throughout the night. I got to celebrate the night with my best friends from university but at no point was I filled with a sense of something ending and reminiscing, I was simply just having a good time with my friends. I also met a few course mates on that night as well as someone from my school days who had come to Portsmouth University but I hadn't bumped into for three years. On this night, I was never stuck for conversation with anybody whether I'd last seen them a day ago or three years ago. Before the event, my friends even gave me an award for "Most Changed" member of the group referring to my social progression.
Therefore, I'll leave you with something I posted on Facebook towards the end of third year which still rings true now:
"If ever there's an occasion where it's about the journey and not the destination, it's university. Before I started uni, the only thing that went through my mind was getting through the three years and using the degree to get an enjoyable well-paid job. Now, as it's coming to an end, I have no idea what my job will be and don't know where to start. In these three years though, I've not only made some good friends but had a number of fun times that makes the years more bearable. Three years on, the experience and socialising throughout uni is likely to make more of an impression on my life than the actual degree qualification."