Wednesday, 23 July 2014

My University Experience

For the last three years, I've studied Primary Education (Initial Teacher Education) at the University of West England in Bristol.  I chose the course because it meant I could fully qualify as a teacher after three years instead of doing a PGCE after a degree.  For a lot of people, it's coming up to decision-time before either applying to university in November or beginning their degree in September.  As today is my graduation, I thought it was the perfect time to reflect on my last three years at uni.
Admittedly I've always been a bit of a home-bird.  I found first year really hard, but luckily, I had a wonderful flatmate who was an absolute star and made everything so much easier.  Although I was often ringing home for a chat, looking back on that year I still really enjoyed myself and had a fab time on my freshers nights out (some photos below).  Before heading to uni I found a few people on my course using the UWE Facebook pages, which meant on the first day I had some people to meet up with and go to the freshers event with, and I ended up living with one of them for second and third year.  I lived in uni halls which although was a bit of a pain sometimes, it definitely was the right thing to do because I met so many new people, I definitely recommend it if it's possible.  The best advice I can give you is to be confident - it's a bit difficult to make friends if you're quietly sat in the corner on your own.  I'm not much of an outspoken person, but during my first week I plucked up the courage to sit next to anyone and everyone in lectures and say hi, and every single one of them were so lovely and we always ended up chatting!  I didn't join any societies at uni, which I regret - the people who enjoy the most seem to be the people who get involved with everything they can, so one of my tips is to join in with everything you can! From the very beginning I adored my course and even though I found placement hard, I've never regretted my choice of degree.  Choosing the right degree is massively important, although I was a little nervous about my decision before beginning university, I've been sure that this is right for me since the first week.  I passed first year with a solid 2:1 which proved to me I'd made the right choice.

During the summer holidays after first year, Rob and I began our relationship which soon became long distance; he studies at Portsmouth uni.  Throughout my second year I lived in a rented house with four other girls; some times it was difficult living in close contact with people I'd only known a few months but most of the time it was lovely being so close to my friends (photos of us below!).  Unfortunately this year I started having panic attacks which did make living away from home pretty hard.  When it did get difficult I spend a lot of time in my room (which is how this blog started), ringing home or skyping Rob, but most of the time it was really lovely to have some time to myself and relax!  I spent most weekends throughout the year at home or with Rob which suited me at the time, but it definitely distanced me from the uni girls which in turn made uni harder.  No matter how hard your finding university, try to stick it out on the weekends - I eventually found out that more often than not they're quite fun and they really do strengthen your friendships.  Although the course was getting more difficult, I was still enjoying it and managed to pass with another 2:1.

I chose a 3-year degree, which meant after second year I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  To tell you the truth by this point I was a little sick of university; I didn't want to sit in lectures, write essays, or live in our damp, cold student house.  I chose to carry out my third year placement at a school close to home, meaning after Christmas I spent most of my time at home, which made me a lot happier.  My third year placement was a bit of a disaster which was very stressful, but I got through it and it's improved my teaching so much.  Work wise, year 3 was by far the most challenging but I guess that's to be expected.  As part of my course I had to write a 6000 word dissertation, which was no where near as difficult as I thought it would be, it was so structured that it wasn't difficult to write at all!  I managed to swipe a 2:1 in my dissertation, and graduate from my course with a 2:1 overall which I'm over the moon about! I've actually already received my certificate, so today once I take off that cap and gown it's all over!

Although my university experience has definitely had it's ups and downs, I'm over the moon with what I've achieved and I'm so proud that I actually have a degree.  I've got a job as a year three class teacher in Southampton which I start in September meaning I'm moving to a flat with Rob down south - no more long distance, woo!  I'm looking forward to beginning something new, moving on from full-time education and earning a proper wage.  I'd love to read about your university experiences, so feel free to comment, tweet me (@lillieslipbalm) or link me your own university experience post!


  1. A lot of your experiences sound so similar to mine - first year was hard and although I regret spending (too much) time alone in my room, I've come out the other side. I took a placement module near home too, which helped a lot. Now, going into third year, I think I'm a stronger person :)

    Massive congratulations on your teaching job, I bet you're so excited to start the new era!!! XXX

    Let Us Be Lovely

    1. Keep your chin up and plod on, it's worth it in the end! Thank you so much, wishing you all the luck in the world x