Hi Guys, I am back today, with another ‘meet the.. q and a series.’I love doing these as you can find out about a lot of things from a lot of people. I wanted to do a uni one today, as i know uni is fast approaching and people are unsure what uni life is really like/wanting some advice on uni
I didn’t want to speak about it, as i have never been to uni myself, so Lauren kindly tweeted me, asking if she could get involved, and of course i said yes! Lauren is a lovely young lady who i have known all of my life which is crazy and she studied law!
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself:
A: I’m Lauren, I’m 22, a Law graduate living in Hertfordshire and working in local government.
Q: So you studied law, what university did you go too?
A: I did my undergraduate at the University of Nottingham and my postgraduate at Birkbeck College which is part of the University of London.
Q: What made you want to study law, who/what inspired you?
A: I definitely wanted my life to be like legally blonde and I can’t lie as the money was definitely the first thing that made me want to go into Law, I was actually a bit blind as to how much work it would actually be to get to that stage!
Q: Why did you choose that particular uni to go to?
A: I chose Nottingham on the grounds of its beautiful campus, award winning Law school and the amazing sporting opportunities that it presented. Everyone from Nottingham is so proud to be part of it and it’s a great city buzzing with student life!
Q; When choosing universities, did you have universities in mind that you wanted to visit and what were those unis?
A: I had offers from Durham, Nottingham, Surrey, Kent and UEA. Durham was a beautiful campus but I just found myself feeling a bit out of place there – you definitely know if you are a Durham candidate or not, and being from Cheshunt and being the first in my family to go to uni, I didn’t think I had the Durham legacy behind me!
Q: How did you make friends at uni?
A: My first year wasn’t easy, I went to uni in a relationship which wasn’t the best and for that reason I was often excluding myself from all the freshers events, which help you to gel with the people you are living with. I am lucky enough that our ‘hall mentor’ Susie saw me struggling and reached out to me – we actually shared the same hobby (horse riding) and she dragged me to the team trials where I found the most incredibly supportive crowd of people who I was yet to know that would become my lifelong friends.
Q: What was the nightlife like at your uni?
A: Nottingham nightlife is amazing; there is something for everyone whether you like cheesy pop, live music, a thriving LGBTQ scene to heavy metal nights and late night house music venues. Every night there is loads going on because of the two unis in the city and the diversity is something that really appealed to me because there will always be a crowd there that you feel at home with.
Q: I know you struggled a lot with the transition into uni, what kind of things did you do to make your uni experience a good one? Any tips?
A: It definitely took me a while to become accustomed to uni life. I trained twice a week with our sports team and they put on fortnightly socials so I always had something to look forward to. Joining a sports team that I felt passionate about meant that I could come out of my shell easily and speak to people with whom I shared a common interest. In my second year I really thrived at uni because I came back with a new attitude. I promised that I would say yes to everything, which was an exhausting but exhilarating experience. I tried lots of new things and I was always out and about! This could mean taking full advantage of the fancy dress on the nights out which made them really memorable (well I remember before all of the VKs at Crisis), to volunteering with riding for the disabled.
Q: I know you joined a few clubs, (Lauren took part in: sports clubs and socities), tell me a little bit about those?
A: So obviously horse riding is a big thing in my life… The club at Nottingham are full of the most amazing bright young people who have the biggest hearts. If you are heading to Nottingham I would fully recommend – you don’t have to have sat on a horse before at all so why not try something new! Nottingham I believe has some of the highest number of societies of any uni which means that you can really get involved in anything you want to do! I remember there being a diverse range from sky diving and sailing teams, LARPing and quidditch, to crochet and baking. It just gives anyone the chance to branch out and meet people who you have a commonality with, this really helped me when I was struggling at first just being thrown into halls with random people that didn’t want to hear my constant pony patter.
Q: What were you most nervous of, when joining university and how did you overcome them?
A: I think I was most nervous of fitting in and finding a group of friends. It took me a while to overcome this as I was always heading back home for the weekends at first but once I was integrated into my team I hardly ever came home!
Q: What was first year like? From freshers, making friends, how to make friends at uni and how to overcome home sickness?
A: First year for me was not the glamorous time you see described in the prospectus. They had totally misjudged me and housed me with people that were just way too extrovert and it made me recoil into a bit of a hermit who wouldn’t leave their room except to collect a take away. I cried daily about how I missed home and I was always made to feel guilty about going out to try and make these friendships. I felt an overwhelming pressure that these were supposed to be the ‘best days of my life’ and I really suffered because they really really weren’t! It only took me until second year to realise that this is ok and that everyones experience is going to be different. So definitely stick it out and focus on your studies if times are hard, and keep putting yourself out there with different groups and societies as how you are feeling will not be a one off!
Q: Congratulations on finishing your masters, that is such a big achievement, what was masters like?
A: Thank you! It was a very different experience from Nottingham – with much less VKs and Sambucca – as I was working full time and studying in the evening to be able to fund the course. Luckily, I hand picked a very specific course that was really interesting as it was horrendously intense, and it definitely isn’t for the faint hearted!
Q: Apart from all of the amazing memories you made, and how well you did at uni, what was your biggest achievement?
A; Aside from just making it to the end in one piece, I think my biggest achievement was winning the Nottingham Prize before my first graduation. It was an award given to only 5 Nottingham students for outstanding achievement and mine was for my services to sport. We worked really hard not only with the RDA but also with introducing equestrian into local schools and to creating and running an inclusive group for people with mental health difficulties to come and ride as a form of therapy. I had never really seen this as an ‘achievement’ before then as it was just normal to want to spread the joy that our sport could bring, so it was really special to hear just how far I had come since that scared little fresher who wouldn’t leave her room or speak to anyone!
Q: What was the hardest part of uni?
A: Law was not an easy course. Everyone stereotypes students as lazy but really trying to keep up with your studies, trying to do extra-curricular things such as sitting on committees to add to your CV as well as working, applying for graduate schemes and trying to maintain a good social life is not easy!
Q: In first year, did you stay in halls? If so, what was it like?
A: I stayed in catered halls. It wasn’t really for me as I am quite fussy with food and being prone to anxiety going down to the halls at mealtimes were a really big ordeal for me back then! I think I would love it now but if I could change anything I wish I had opted for self-catering.
Q: Let’s talk about mental health at university, i know you bought up the fact you had bad mental health! What did you do, in order for you to ‘stay on top’ of your mental health?
A: In my first year I let myself fall into a pretty bad hole! It was really the positive attitude of my second year that reversed this as I agreed to take on everything I possibly could. I was busy, I was out and about all the time, surrounded by lovely people and exercising frequently. I suppose the biggest thing is to not do the easy thing and stay hidden up in your room – find something that suits you and run with it!
Q: I know you have a very supportive family ( I have known Lauren and her family since i was born as they are family friends of ours!)how did your family help support you during your time at uni?
A: My family have been amazing for the whole time I was studying. They were always at the end of the phone to listen to me in my dark times, to offer to lend me £20 for a take away or to just fill me in on what the dog was doing to cure some homesickness! My mum would always bulk make me food so that if I felt homesick I could have a big bowl of her famous spag bol to help me out and my dad was always there to help make sure I didn’t miss out on our trips to the football which gave me something to look forward too, if I was having a rough week!
Q: How did you save your money at uni? Did you have a part time job alongside your studies?
A: I am definitely a spender and not a saver which hit me hard during my time at uni! I was very lucky that the uni actually partially funded my coaching qualification so that I could teach horse riding ad-hoc between my studies. But I have friends that are working 2/3 jobs on the side of their degree and it really is challenging.
Q: What are the 5 things you would tell your first year, second year, third year self now?
A: 1st Year: 1. You do actually get to the end of it, so get your head down and keep going!
2. They was right, relationships from home rarely work out at uni because you grow so much as a person, and no you will not be the exception so just save yourself the pain!
3. Throw yourself into everything, it doesn’t matter if you don’t like it after but at least you’ve tried a new experience and working everyday you don’t get that opportunity.
2nd Year: 4. Errrmmmm maybe you should put down the VKs and pick up a book as 3rd year Lauren is going to hate you for the extra work you made her do. Oh and your student overdraft is NOT FREE MONEY!!!
3rd Year: 5. STOP CRYING OVER GRADUATE SCHEMES, THEY ARE NOT EVERYTHING! And once you graduate they all come flooding in anyway (and you inevitably turn them all down) so stop using them as a way to procrastinate.
Q: Top things to pack to go to uni?
A: Lots of pictures, posters and small decorations to make your inevitably dark damp room into a home! As much as possible that you could ever use for fancy dress as it will come in handy when you’re having to create a jellyfish outfit with £3.47 in the bank and spare bedding!!! How many people I saw who had the same bed sheets for the whole term, I can only imagine their mums when they turned up to help them move back home in the summer!
Q: Anything you would change about your uni experience?
A: I just wish I could start from 1st year again knowing all that I do now, it changed me so much as a person and it really was a cliché unforgettable experience. Without my traumatic first year I don’t think graduating would have meant as much in the end!
Q: pros and cons of going to university?
A: The debt is obviously something you have to mention, but everyone ends up with it and you only start paying it back after you earn a certain amount so really its nothing I’m worrying about just yet! It is hard work but the experience really is one of a kind. You really learn a lot about yourself and at the end of it you come out with a life changing qualification (without that even really being the sole focus of being there at times!)
Q: Did uni help you with the job you are in now? If so, how?
A: It definitely helped me to decide the vague direction I wanted to go in – but I was still figuring that out long after I graduated so it’s fine if you are still unsure! I am now in the legal department in our district council hoping to be taken on as a trainee solicitor soon after a bit more experience which so far I am really enjoying! Everything I did at uni aside from my degree really helped me at interviews as I had something other than law to talk about and recruiters were really intrigued by all my work with equestrian.
Q: Finally, any advice to anyone reading this on starting university and how it changed you as a person/how you looked at things?
A: Go for it. Grab the opportunity with both hands and take absolutely everything you can from it because its going to cost you enough! Make sure you are really interested in your course then studying will be more interesting than hard work, and join lots of groups and try new things. It is absolutely a place to test yourself and push your boundaries, and my experience has certainly shaped me into the bubbly person that I am today (and that employers love which always helps!).
Thank you! Lauren ☺ X
Any photos of Lauren, i have asked her permission to use in this blog post!
Thank you so much to Lauren for taking part in this ‘Meet the.. Q&A series’ i really appreciate you coming on here and talking about your university experience. I wanted to say a massive congratulations to you on your masters!
Anyone who is going to uni, or at uni now, i hope this blog post helps you in some way, and congratulations for getting into uni/graduating Such a big achievement!
Dm me if you want to get involved in the next ‘meet the.. q and a series’ or email me over on: firstname.lastname@example.org