Going Back to University: What’s Different About the Famous Uni Lifestyle?

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There are many differences between being a student and being an employee. Now that I’ve tried both, I thought you might like to hear about it.

You meet so many people…
…Yet you can easily spend your days alone. 

Freshers week is that famous period of people being all excited to be starting afresh all at the same time. You rarely get this experience in a workplace where people tend to join one by one over the months and years, rather than all at once. Also, if it’s a big move to the city, people are looking for new friends to gel with — in a workplace people may already have a social circle, and may not want you to expand it. 

However once Freshers week is over you may well miss the camaraderie of an office or a big gang of colleagues. Much of student life is spent studying alone, except for high-pressure group-work projects. 

Note that this doesn’t apply for every course. Architects at Cardiff Uni, for example, spend hours each day working in studio together. If you think you work better in teams, find out how the day-to-day of your course looks.

If you feel as though you’re missing out on the social side of things, check out your university’s societies or clubs; you’re sure to meet like-minded people (even if they aren’t on your course).

You have more/less money (delete as appropriate)

If you’re lucky enough to have a student loan, you’ve already got your baseline expenses sorted. Then it’s up to you to find some part time work to supplement it, or hunt for bursaries and scholarships. Nevertheless, your flexible schedule means finding work and making money can be a bit of an adventure, as you hunt for geld like a prospector in a Californian gold-rush. Try out a few different jobs, like a character in a sitcom. Just don’t forget to leave time for your actual course; you’re paying for it, after all.

If you start to get worried about your financial situation, make sure you get help from any one of these excellent places. They’re in the best position to help you through it, no matter how big or small. (As long as you don’t go robbing a bank.)

The work… never ends

Remember in school when passive-aggressive teachers, fed up with a misbehaving class and threatening lunchtime detention, used to say “It’s your own time you’re wasting…”? That voice is now inside your head every time you let go and have a little fun. You might be free of the 9-5 much of the time at uni, with your timetable for study outside of lectures entirely decided by yourself, but you’ll soon realise this free-flowing schedule has its downsides. Maybe you didn’t get up as early as you wanted to, so you end up staying up late reading. You might even be in the library all night leading up to a deadline.

Don’t forget that you can always chat to Meic if you need information or advice to deal with stress or help to manage your workload.

People drink so much

Going for drinks as a workplace (at least outside of London) is pretty rare, happening once in a blue moon. But your uni pals, in their various permutations, may be asking you out for at least one or two three times a week or more. Where in the working world is Wednesday considered a big night out? Nowhere, that’s where! But in uni, Wednesday is the night for sports club socials. Remember to enjoy in moderation; this tool from the NHS is really useful for this. It can be easy to use alcohol as a way of dealing with stress, so check out our info pages for organisations that can help you to find healthier ways to cope.

In general, working and studying, whilst inter-related, are like chalk and cheese, apples and oranges. You can’t compare them. If you’re thinking of switching between the two, hopefully this article has been handy.


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