3 min read

University Expectation vs Reality

University Expectation vs Reality

by Harry

Harry, one of our second year students, had many expectations before starting university. Find out about the reality of student life in his own words…

When people ask me why I chose to study at Newcastle, I give them two answers.

Firstly, I was impressed by the University’s reputation as a leading research institution, and secondly, I visited the city for an Open Day and a man in a market gave me a free macaroon. I thought this was probably a good indicator of how nice the Geordies are and decided to apply.

Since arriving, I’ve had a brilliant time here, getting to know both the University and the city of Newcastle. I had so many expectations prior to arriving; would I be able to keep up with the workload? Is infamous reality TV an accurate depiction of nightlife in the city?

To spare you from the nights of tossing and turning, here’s what I’ve discovered.

Expectation: living in student accommodation is weird

Reality: living in student accommodation IS weird… but in a good way

Sharing living space with lots of people you’ve never met is a rather strange thing to do. You have to quickly adapt to other people’s bizarre routines and habits, learning to coexist with them. Your flatmates will probably ‘borrow’ your shower gel and insist they didn’t, burn a whole can of beans in your favourite pan, and eat all the tortellini you lovingly prepared for yourself. And your dreamy Sunday morning lie-in? It’ll be soundtracked by your mate singing in the shower.

But, incredibly, you’ll grow to love the weirdness of student accommodation. It exists in a realm away from time itself, where hash browns are considered a healthy snack (What? Potato is a vegetable) and sleep is snatched in between lectures or curled up in front of the TV.

Student accommodation is a great way to test the waters of adulthood, without being too in at the deep end, and you’ll spend the rest of your life reminiscing about it.

Expectation: studying will be difficult

Reality: it’s a literal learning curve, but also an opportunity

Don’t get me wrong - there’s a definite jump in content from A Levels to university. But, for the first time, you’ll be studying precisely what you’re fascinated by. You will be treated as an adult by lecturers and expected to turn up on time, but you’re also in charge of how you learn the course content.

This is an opportunity to figure out how you learn best, so make the most of it! Give this revision personality quiz a spin to find out the study technique for you.

Expectation: you’ll never speak to a lecturer

Reality: they love their subject and want to engage with you about it

Many people presume that because lectures are so big, the lecturers won’t bother to get to know everybody on an individual basis.

There is an element of truth to this. If you hide in lectures you probably won’t make a connection with teachers. But the lecturers are there to support you and will be happy to chat after classes or during their office hours. Introduce yourself and ask questions!

Expectation: exams will be terrifying

Reality: the more time you put in, the less scary they will be

No one actually likes exams, but the ones you prepare for will definitely be easier. This isn’t exactly a revolutionary idea; what do you mean, revision works?! Until I came to university, I was definitely more of a cram-the-night-before kind of guy. That strategy simply won’t work at university, when you’ve got 12 weeks of content to learn back to front and inside out. Check out these exam revision tips for some helpful advice on structuring your study sessions.

My advice? Revise as you go along, take comprehensive notes, and make the most of your lecturers. As I said before, they are there to help. If you are struggling to understand something, book in for a chat with them as soon as you can - they probably won’t reply to your emails at 3am the morning before the exam!

Expectation: Newcastle… that’s the one with Geordie Shore, right?

Reality: Newcastle is beautiful, historic, cultural and coastal

There is so much more to our city than nights out – although when life is back to normal, they take some beating. Having only visited Newcastle once for the Open Day, I spent my first year getting to know the city; wandering the architecturally incredible Grey Street, exploring the seaside by Metro, dodging the cows in Leazes Park, and spending warm Sundays perusing the stalls at the Quayside Market.

There are so many great events going on (many of which you can find through the Newcastle University social media channels), you’ll never be bored!

I hope hearing about my university expectations vs reality has helped you prepare for life at Newcastle University. If you have any other questions, don’t forget you can drop our Unibuddies a message via the Unibuddy app!

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