What It’s Really Like Moving To University

Alexandra shares her experience as a fresher, how it both confirms and defies expectations.

Saturday the 8th of September. It had finally arrived. The date had been looming over me for months, always at the back of my head, nagging at me, but I had pushed it back. Very quickly, four months turned to three, and three months to two, then one month, and now it was less than 24 hours away.  I packed my whole life away into suitcases and bags, I was worrying.

Photo: Pixabay

Everyone talks about how move-in day is this grand and exciting moment in your life: you’ve finally arrived at university and all of your hard work has come to fruition. However, what no one tells you is that strangely, you find that you’re far too busy to sit and feel nostalgic about the achievement. There’s barely time to grab a cup of coffee, never-mind to put your feet up and daydream.

I remember driving up with my parents, making my way to the David Russell Apartments.  The day just flew away from me before I even knew that it had begun. We picked up my keys, moved all my belongings into my room, placed all my food in the cabinet, moved the car closer to my building. We did everything and anything that we could possibly think of to make the move easier and to make my room feel like home.  

I didn’t feel overly emotional that first night, it was strange being in a new and unfamiliar environment, but I didn’t feel the need to burst out into tears, or cling to my parents’ legs and beg them not to leave me. On my first Sunday in St. Andrews, one of my flatmates and I went down to do the pier walk; braving the blistering winds and dark skies to climb on top of the pier, making our way along it. Whilst completing this ancient St Andrean tradition, looking straight ahead at the harbour and the little colourful houses in front of the cathedral, I thought: this is the start of my new life.  

Photo: Pixabay

I left the pier walk with an even more positive attitude towards university. I looked at every little picturesque building in St. Andrews with eyes wide open, wondering if I would have classes there, looking at the little cafes and imagining meeting up with the friends that I had yet to make. The sun shone every day, the town was gorgeous, and the quad was the closest thing to Hogwarts that actually existed.  

However, once the buzz of fresher’s week finally stilled, I started to feel a bit blue. I had gone from having a few days doing more socialising than I had ever done in my whole life and not getting to bed until 2am (something that was unheard of for me, as I have the body of an 18 year old, but the stamina of an 80 year old) to suddenly not having much to do. The Sunday before my first day of class,  I couldn’t help but notice how empty my room looked. It was like a blank canvas, ready to be painted by me – but I didn’t know how. I had moved all my possessions in, it was full of my clothes, my books and my ornaments but I still couldn’t imagine someone walking in and instantly knowing that it was my room. MY room. I told myself this over and over, it was my room, not anybody else’s, but mine.  

Photo: Pixabay

So, was moving into university halls everything that I imagined it to be? In a way yes, and in others no. I expected it to be busy, and it most certainly was. I expected there to be people around me all the time, but this wasn’t always the case. Thankfully, I seem to have adapted to everything around me. I find myself in a routine that I stick to (most days), remembering to make healthy dinners so that I could boast to my Mum and Gran over the phone that I wasn’t eating ready meals every night.  

One day, as I was snapchatting my friend on my way to Halls, she asked where I was off to. I replied, without thinking about my words or what they meant, “I’m going home.”

For that’s what St. Andrews now is to me.  

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