A Reflection on my First Year of University!

September 01, 2017

This time last year I was petrified. Petrified of finding friends, petrified of joining societies, petrified of not finding fellow non-drinkers. How I can look back in relief! I have honestly had such an amazing time at university so far. I met the most amazing people, absolutely loved my subject and got through it all without alcohol ever touching my lips! For the past year I tried and failed to keep a blog/open diary about my university experience to share what life as a sober history undergrad is all about. I am now moving university related posts onto this site, so thought I would start off this new section of my blog by getting you up to speed on what I got up to in my first year and reflecting on what I learnt.

On being the 'sober student'

To my fellow sober students, let me reassure you that you will not be the only person on campus that doesn't drink and you will find them easier than you expected! One other person in my flat didn't drink and the rest were either light drinkers or not so party mad that it disturbed the rest of us :) I found a good handful of others within my own block that were non-drinkers- in fact one went partying constantly, fuelled only by water and orange juice! I also bumped into people so easily on my course and in societies that weren't big drinkers, or didn't touch the stuff at all - even those that you wouldn't expect to be sober. It really is not that big of an issue. People only brought it up if they were pre-drinking and asked if you wanted some of their beer, and moved on as soon as you said you don't drink. No forcing alcohol into my hand, no peer-pressuring, no over questioning. Just pure respect for my choices (and the odd person that said they wish they were sober too!) 😊. It seems like you're the only one, because people hardly talk about it, but there are more of us than you'd expect (in fact I read somewhere that the number of students that don't drink is increasing!!). 

Last night of first year drinks with friends (AKA packing procrastination...) - featuring my first Mocktail (which tasted amazing!) .

On my work ethic

I became so much more organised over the year. I created the perfect method for getting the most out of my diary in order to organise my time properly (a blog post is currently in the works). Once I worked out how long I needed to properly write an essay, I got into a system that worked for me and stuck to it – there is a funny satisfaction in being calmly on top of things in the run up to a deadline, when people around you are scrambling to get everything finished – don’t be that person with 2 essays to write in 24hrs! 

The same went for exams. Once I worked out a systematical method for revision (and got my head around how the heck you revise for a subject with no syllabus and the fact that I had to find extra reading material to include in my answers) it made life so much ‘easier’. You’ve had GCSEs and A-levels to test drive and perfect the best revision techniques for you, now put them into practise! (Don’t worry I will write essay and revision guides for university when I get a moment).

By being on top of my work I could actually enjoy what I was learning and reading about - in fact I, dare I say it, ENJOYED writing essays! At the beginning of each essay I would have a Hermione moment, entering the library with a list of 4 books I needed, and leaving with 10+ 😂. It might be hard to believe, but choose a subject you love and the work won't feel like work. In fact, I am still raving about my essay on the medicalisation of midwifery to anyone that will listen!

What I learnt

In the words of Kylie Jenner, this was the year of “realising stuff.”

Realising that people at help desks and tills will forget about you in 10 seconds so don’t worry what they think and hide away. Realising that you have to get out of your comfort zone to grow.

Uni makes you grow up!

I got out of my comfort zone, said yes to more things (thanks to a friend’s encouragement), and am not only living my ‘Strictly dream’ of learning to ballroom dance, but have ended up as secretary of the club! I have made firm friends in my flat, societies and on my course – this from the girl who a year ago was convinced she would probably drop out after 2 weeks ‘cause she wouldn't find any friends and hate every second…

Yes, it wasn’t all fine and dandy...

I’ve spent many a night crying, wanting to go home and throw in the towel. And yes, I desperately need to beat my fear of speaking out in seminars and going to tutor’s office hours to get help (especially as I’m doing wild modules next year). But bloomin’ heck do the positives outweigh the negatives!

Not only did I end up getting a distinction (take that bad A-level results!), but I have become A LOT more independent – for instance, my parents hardly had to chivvy me when revising over Easter (a different picture from previous exam years, let me tell you!).

So to you reading this, presumably about to embark on university or umming and ahhing whether it’s for you. Let me tell you:


Yes, most of your £9,250 is probably subsidising the science students (or atleast, that’s the conspiracy theory we came up with 😂), and yes, you many feel like your degree will be pointless cause it doesn’t lead to a specific job. But, university gives you a safe space to grow up in. To develop into an adult whilst only partially being in the real world (hello house bill payments awaiting me in two weeks-time 👋). You will make friends for life and be given the most incredible opportunities – I have danced at Blackpool Tower Ballroom, beat that!

The next few years will see this blog fill up with advice posts about university, from non-drinking to house hunting and I am always here to answer your buring questions or to take suggestions of topics for future posts (just email me!). But in the mean time, I have just put up a list of vloggers and bloggers studying a wide variety of subjects at universities across the country so you can hopefully find people's experiences of the course/university you are about to start/thinking of doing. Go check it out!

What’s one piece of advice you would give someone starting University?

June xx

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