Dear University Freshers,
With a load of you moving in at the University of Gloucestershire today, I started thinking about when I moved to university, and what my life has been like since then.
I was terrified when I started university. A new life, in a new town which I had only visited once before. This was my first step on the road to an independent life, trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do. It was like standing on the edge of a massive ocean, waiting to dive in. But now as I start my third year, I look back and I know it has been one of the best experiences of my life.
I have grown more than I ever thought possible, both intellectually and emotionally. I have a fair idea of what I want to do with my life, even if I don't have a five point plan. My faith is stronger than ever and I've met some of the best friends I've ever made and I met my girlfriend. There have been some rough patches, but, all in all, I've had a great time.
I know that those moving in today have a lot to worry about, not least, on top of all the stress of going to university, having to pay £9,000 in tuition fees. I still maintain allowing that level of tuition fees was one of the biggest mistakes of the current government, and a decision that may well be the death knell of the Liberal Democrats. I know that university isn't for everyone and the government should be seeking to invest either in employment or in other means of education and training for young people. But if people want to go to uni, they shouldn't have to risk racking up massive debts in order to do it.
University is a great experience. Whether you end up at a big one like Oxford or Cambridge, or at a smaller one UOG or UWE, it doesn't matter. University is what you make of it. Everyone's experiences are unique to them, and help you figure out what you can do. Don't ignore any open doors. You will be offered lots of opportunities, and even if you don't think you can do them, give them a try. You never know what'll happen. That's how I got this writing gig after all.
Ignore all the stereotypes that you may have heard. Don't go in with any preconceptions. Set out with an open mind, and a willingness to try anything - except mixing drinks- and you will be fine. Join societies; make friends, part ways with decent sleep. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll get homesick, and you'll forget what home was like, all at the same time. Don't be afraid. People will be there to look after you.
As I stare down the barrel of my third year, with graduation at the end of it, I'm almost jealous of you, and the brilliant three years you have ahead of you. Make the most of it.
Welcome to university. You're going to love it.
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