First year freedom
Sarah has just finished her first year at uni and despite her dodgy flatmates and bad diet she's looking forward to her second year.
When I first came to uni I was expecting an easy life: all-night raves, minimal work, and a thriving social life. Instead, I was confronted with rude flatmates who made my life miserable, a huge workload, and absolutely no money. But I'd do it all again in a flash.
The best thing about uni is the freedom: eating what you want when you want; taking endless showers without being nagged about the water bill (all inclusive bills in halls are a god-send); partying all hours and not worrying about coming home too late. And then there's shopping; words can't describe the joy I felt when I took my first trip to Asda!
Of course, there are lonely times as well. Having left my boyfriend at home, my evenings were spent making teary-eyed phone calls, but I've managed to keep my relationship intact and that's made all the lonely nights worthwhile. Being away from home has helped me appreciate what I have, too. When I come back I try to help my mum around the house and make the most of my time with my friends. I also visit all the places that I've always taken for granted.
"With uni handing me so many opportunities on a plate, I want to take up as many as I can and enjoy myself."
When I arrived at uni I had nothing in my bank account but was given a brand new overdraft. I'd never had one before so it was an instant incentive to spend money on shopping, nights out, and all the junk food my mum had never let me eat. I managed to max out my account within three months and suddenly life wasn't so much fun.
I spent the last two weeks before Easter on a diet of porridge and self-loathing. I blame Asda for all the two-for-one deals I couldn't resist. Now I'm working full-time to repay my debts. I'm also setting up a separate bank account for my student loan to go into to cover rent and bills so I'll be able to keep an eye on my spending.
With a lot of hard work and saving over the holidays I'm hoping that I'll be in better financial shape for next year. After my experience in halls - being kept awake until 4am and work surfaces permanently covered in mould - I'm looking forward to moving into a house with friends. The partying and social life in halls is fantastic, but sometimes you're put with people you don't get on with, and it's hard to cope with that. It's helped me to stay strong, but I wish I had stood up to them rather than feeling bullied in my own home.
My flat really brought down my first year, which is why I'm going to make the most of uni next year. I'm going to balance work with a social life, hit Freshers' week hard and join some societies. With uni handing me so many opportunities on a plate, I want to take up as many as I can and enjoy myself.