It doesn't feel like it was just a year ago I was anxiously awaiting my A-level results, the three letters that would determine the course of my life for the next three years. These letters would dictate where in the country I would move to, who I would be sharing a flat with, the friends I would make, and the person I would grow to become.
Sure, I had older friends at hand to give me advice as to how to deal with starting university and the stepping stones to becoming a fully fledged adult; but still I wasn't quite prepared for what my first year of university would have in store for me. And after the best, the worst, the most exciting and the most trying year of my life; here are a few things I wish I had known:
You need to learn to be more domestic. Learn to cook some good quality meals. Learn to do your own laundry. Learn how to use the kitchen without setting off a fire alarm that causes your whole building to be evacuated, especially when cooking in the early hours of the morning.
Just because you live with them, you won't all be the best of friends. You've been thrown together with a bunch of other, in my case 7 others, strangers who you don't know at all unless you were brave enough to chat to them over social media beforehand; and even then they won't be who you expect to meet in person. These people all come from different walks of life, different backgrounds, have different stories to tell. You will not be compatible with all of them, and that's not a bad thing. Find the ones you do fit well with and keep them close, they will be your allies when the ones you don't cause trouble for reasons like a messy kitchen or too much noise after 11pm at night.
It's bloody hard not being able to go home to your mum at the end of a difficult day. I am not much of a home-bird and I couldn't wait to fly the nest, but that doesn't mean I didn't find it hard not being able to talk to my mum whenever I had a problem or one of my flatmates was grating on me or when I am sick and need looking after. Don't kid yourself, every one of you will have a point where you wish you could go home like you did at the end of a school day and put everything out of your mind until tomorrow.
Freedom is the best feeling in the world! Being able to go where you want without asking permission, doing things just because you want to and not having to worry about inconveniencing your family, eating what you want and getting up whenever you deem acceptable are the best things, and you will miss them when you go home for long periods of time. This is YOUR time to figure out who you want to be, so take full advantage of it. Spend too much money, make mistakes, drink so much you embarrass yourself; this is the first year of the rest of your life and you will miss it when stuff starts to count for something.
So get up, drink up, and show up. You will figure this one out, and it will be amazing. You'll make friends for life and you'll create memories you never let go of.
For everyone who's about to start university for the first time: good luck!