10 weird things they didn't warn you about student life

There are things everyone tells you about uni. You'll have the time of your life, you'll make friends that'll be with you till your 70. But then there are things that no-one mentions, like the constant fire alarms and how everyone, with no exceptions, does a wee in their sink in halls.

10) The first term is mainly about coping with fire alarms

The first fire alarm waking you up at 3am is going to frighten you. You'll smell some burnt toast and assume everyone is about to die, grab what you can and flee from your room wearing nothing but your pyjamas.

By the second week you'll be used to them, having gone through around 20 already. You'll slowly acclimatise, and soon you'll learn how to wake yourself up at 4am and drag yourself outside without even needing the fire alarm to go off at all.

Make sure you acclimatise as soon as you possibly can. You're going to need to learn to function on much less sleep than you realise, as the fire alarms continue well into exam time.

9) The first year doesn't really count...

At most unis (and look into this - I'm not giving you permission to put no effort in on your first year) your first year won't count towards your final grade. As long as you get more than 40% (the bare minimum required to get a third) you'll pass your first year and will be in exactly the same position as the people who worked their asses off and got a first (at least in term of grades). Relax. Years two and three are for work.

8) A surprising amount of the students wee in the sink

In most uni halls you're going to get a sink in your room. At crotch height. It doesn't take Columbo to realise this will result in a lot of people going toilet into the sink, when the actual toilet is all the way across the hall and occupado.

Everyone is doing it. There's just a secret code of silence, where everyone denies it and claims it's something they'd never do. Right?

7) It's possible to take "easy" modules and get the same degree as everyone else

If you know what to look out for, you can find some really easy modules that you can breeze through whilst you concentrate on the harder modules. There are people out there with maths degrees who took a hell of a lot of Spanish, History or modules (not saying that these subjects are easier - just that it's weird that they'll help you get you a maths degree. We hope they don't count towards a medical degree).

In order to take a break from my own sociology degree, I took one module simply titled "food". Not "the sociology of food" or "foucaultian discourse as it relates to food in modernity" - just "food". Easiest thing I've ever taken and I got an undeserved first.

6) Uni isn't as booze-fueled as everyone makes out

When you're so drunk you forget how to walk...

Online and in films it looks like uni is a three year long booze-fueled practice for a stag do, or an attempt to destroy your liver. In reality, after the first year or so most people start to settle down, especially around exam time.

And if you aren't a big drinker you aren't alone. Students and young folk are drinking less and less as time goes on. There are plenty of societies to join that don't revolve around drinking. Join some and meet like-minded people.

5) If you have an option, you should always take exams over coursework

A lecturer of mine told me "it's easier to conceal ignorance in exams". They're marked much more leniently than coursework is, meaning that if you have the capacity to remember a few facts and write a basic essay, you can turn your degree into a breeze followed by a few months of cramming, rather than a constant flow of ridiculously difficult essays.

4) At some point in halls, someone will take a poo in the showers

Pretty self-explanatory this one. In every hall of residence there is an incidence of a mysterious shower pooer. You'll be having a normal morning and then at some random point you'll hear a scream from the shower, and then a lot screaming of the word faeces. At some point everyone will be accused, maybe even you. You'll be accused of being "the type of person who poos in the shower" and asked "you've been planning this since day one, haven't you". Don't take offence- get the forensics students in to do some DNA testing. It's usually a disgruntled third year, taking unusual methods to deal with the exam stress.

3) You're learn a lot of useless things, along with the useful stuff

You're going to pick up a lot of useless, for want of a better word, shit as you go through uni. Along with all the great stuff you learn about Marxist theory or how to cure cancer, you're going to learn a lot about 19th century production methods and the rhyming and rythym structure of late 18th century limericks.

There was a young lady named Bright
who traveled much faster than light.
She set out one day
in a relative way,
and came back the previous night.
—Anonymous

Or even worse - Algebra.

2) You'll make a lot of bad decisions

For most students this is their first time they'll be away from home. It's also the first time they're allowed to drink alcohol. You're also around a lot of people you're going to be attracted to, and for the first time in your life you have a place you can invite them back to, without adding the sentence "but we have to be extremely quiet, Mummy and Dadda are next door".

This is a terrible mix of circumstances. One of the most common fresher mistakes is to make out with and/or have sex on someone in your halls, before realising you're in no way compatible but have to spend the next year passing each other in the hallway.

But if you do make mistakes, don't worry about it. Everyone does it and it's all part of the fun.

1) You're basically on your own...

In college and at school your teachers chased you up when you were doing badly. The first thing you'll notice at uni is that, most of the time, this doesn't happen. You're now completely independent and have to work for yourself. It's terrifying at first, especially as you suddenly have a whole load of other tasks you also have to do on your own (finances, accommodation, washing etc).

Trust us you're going to feel terrified for the first term or so, but then you'll be ok.


Like this? Check out how not to get murdered at university...

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