lost at university

Here are two pieces we just didn’t have space for in our spring issue, both exploring the process of trying to find your way at university.


Anna Holden- A second year persepctive

Lost in the makings of ourselves

 How many people can honestly say that they know exactly what they want to do when they leave university? I am one of the many that simply has no idea. We’re pumped full of these notions from secondary school onwards to always know what’s next, to always have a plan for ourselves of which to fulfill.

 There’s a sphere for essentially any interest, the ‘but’ lies in choosing a sphere, committing to it, and knowing it’s the one for you. Many of us are given a course, our parents plan it out for us. Some of us just know what we want to do. Blessing or a curse? You decide. Either way, how are we to choose a path through an ever growing map of occupations? It’s no wonder so many of us are lost in all this.

 Personally, as a history student, I’ve been told several times that, ‘many history graduates go into accounting’. Having been told this, my life is clearly sorted. However, life definitely does not work that way. I have no interest in accounting whatsoever, yet I’ve been stuffed into this box of accounting, alongside teaching and historical research. Why must a specific degree lead to a specific life?

Either way there is no guarantee that what we work towards will happen, as morbid as that sounds. It’s just as likely that everything we aim for will lead us to something completely different and better. So what do we do as university students? We go for work experience, we join societies, we take part in student ambassador schemes. It seems a simple solution to a difficult problem.

 This method makes sense, but somehow, I believe that we’re just following the same pattern of expectation placed upon us to make sure we go the way we are meant to go. In some way the ‘absolute plan’ is exactly that, too ‘planned’. Then those without a plan, like my misguided self, are left panicking that we have no life plan ready to go. We haven’t had an internship at so-and-so, written prolifically for the institution’s media sources, and become president of ten societies. Hats off to those individuals who have the ability to do this, but my guess (quite possibly more hope than guess) is that the majority of students don’t know if their next move will land them in success, or searching the map hoping to find their way out.

 Perhaps I represent a minority of students, still, I have some belief that there is a pressure to know what we should do with our lives. It’s the pattern of society to move quickly. In some way it is tempting to ignore all requirements and finish university without having any plans whatsoever. So, who is for a revolution of expectation? Not many, but this isn’t really the solution either. It’s a way of life we’re all accustomed to and for all intensive purposes it works. Maybe it is simply a case of looking at our life as our life rather than a method of work.

Rachel Scott- A third year perspective

Over the past 3 years I have lost …

1 black cardigan

1 copy of Paradise Lost

Countless individual socks

Immeasurable amounts of milk from my fridge

100+ pens

2 notebooks

1 stapler

The ability to remember the things I have lost

A sense of direction to my life

Maybe it’s because it’s spring, a time for new beginnings, or because it’s my final term studying at university and I have some pretty big decisions to make – I don’t know what has put me in a reflective mood, but it’s here and it looks like it’s here to stay.

 When applying to university I had big plans for who I was going to be (a political activist or alternatively/additionally a complete hippie- dreadlocks being a definite must) and I had many ideas of what university life was going to be like.  None of which were accurate. I believed I was going to turn into a completely new, improved version of myself who would go on to reform the world; what I was certainly not expecting was the way university life creates its own, impenetrable bubble.  I do not intend to suggest that the world I exist in at university does not interact with ‘the real’ outside world, or that occurrences within the ‘university bubble’ do not have relevance outside of it. Nor is the effect of students solely attached to the bad press students receive in disturbing peaceful communities. There are many examples that could be cited where student projects, especially community orientated, charity societies, interact with surrounding communities. The positive drive of these student projects is visible and should be commended. However it is interesting that one of the ways these types of societies actively recruit, is by highlighting the way it allows students to breach their university bubble and escape back into the ‘real world’. The bubble exists for most students and most of us are happy to sit within its cosy, womb-like walls. As I am coming to the conclusion of my tertiary level of education I have attended many prescribed careers lectures all of which are aimed making the transition from within the bubble to the outside possible. However I still do not wish to have my safe space.

 I believed university was going to be the place I found exactly who I am and exactly who I wanted to be. In fact this is partially true. I have to admit I was not enticed to act on the community projects and I have sat quite soundly within my student world for the entirety of the three years. I do not have a structured plan for the future and I never managed to form dreadlocks, but despite all this, I have gained a sense of self confidence that I never thought would be possible before I came to university. I have not been prepared for the outside world, I don’t know where I am going, what I want to achieve or what my next move will be. But fortunately I have found such a lot more than that. The beliefs and values I have developed, do transcend to the outside world, and mean that not having a plan is not so disheartening after all. I now have the self belief to know that eventually I will formulate my goals and I will be capable of calculating how to get there. My bubble has not given me direction but has given me the time to develop enough to happily step outside. In fact, despite the slight aimlessness I have tended to feel, I think I am beginning to love being lost.

 If you need help regarding your future plans the university has the facilities to help. The first thing to check out is http://www.exeter.ac.uk/employability

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