It doesn’t last forever.

This is not a downer post. At least, that’s not my intention.

I want to talk a bit about friendships at uni. Might add in a bit of comparison between first year and second year, giving some experiences. Sorry – I’m a humanities student… essays are my life and always have been. Analysing is what I do…

Friends. They are so important to our development and well being, and especially to our confidence. I know, I know, you shouldn’t care about what people think, you should just be you. But to a certain extent in this world you are going to care, no matter how hard you try. And if you really genuinely don’t – please share your secret with me!

A bit of history is due here: I’ve always been a people-pleaser. I don’t really know why; I guess it’s because I’m a perfectionist (aren’t we all) and I set really high standards for myself. I’ve been bullied before (who hasn’t?) and I can remember all too well the times when I would speak my mind and say what I was really thinking only to meet crushing rejection and have my ‘friends’ gang up on me and make my life miserable for a few days, until we were ‘friends’ again. (Kids can be cruel right?) I would lose myself in my story writing – or journal the experience, you know, to try and get it all out. Now when I look back, I’ve realised it said more about them than it did about me. I always blamed myself, thought that I was the problem. But really they were just jealous, insecure, and wanted to be in control of their friendship group. Now, I’m not saying I never did anything wrong. But I don’t remember doing much to provoke this treatment.

So it sounds sad, but I never really had many friends most of my life until I got to uni. And even now, I only really have a handful of true friends. Ones I would feel comfortable being 100% myself around. Maybe I just go for quality over quantity…

I also have 2 best friends… Elisha (Ellie) who I’ve known since birth (literally) and Ruth, who I’ve known for probably 5 years now. Ruth goes to uni in Glasgow, and Ellie lives and works in Manchester at the moment, so geographically, we are really far apart. But the amazing thing is our relationships pick up from where they left off when we meet. I have made more friends at uni and it’s really amazing – it’s getting to the point where this whole concept of having only one best friend has become ridiculous, because I have many close friends now.

Anyway… on to the comparison. So before starting uni, I was told I’d make tons of friends. Especially in Freshers week. If you’ve been following my blog long enough, you’ll know that Freshers Week wasn’t all it was cracked up to be for me. Everyone was out partying and getting horrifically drunk, and I personally don’t find the idea of that fun. Especially seeing the aftermath every weekend of such antics. You might call me boring, but actually I just think I stayed true to myself and did what felt right for me. I saved a ton of money which would have been spent on club tickets and alcohol… And I did meet tons of people – but half of them I never spoke to again. Because they only really talked to me when they were drunk… because it made them more confident. Again, it says more about them than it does about me. And it’s OK. You wouldn’t be able to keep track of everyone anyway!

The people I found I really clicked with were those on my course – studying the same things as me and as passionate about them as I was. Also at Church, where there will always be a ready-made community ready to accept you with open arms. I made friends with people in the societies I joined… although I haven’t seen them so much this year because I chose to have more time to focus on what I’m really here for: my degree.

And that’s the thing: you’re here to study. That’s why you’re thousands of pounds in debt. You’re here to get a degree. Sure, friends are great. Societies are great. But things like that, they come and go. Friendships are sometimes only for a season or phase.

It’s hard to grasp, but I’ve come to realise this for myself in the last year or so. I moved around a lot when I was younger – my family moved to Watford (London) for a few years, then back to Worcester, then to Spain, then to Worcester. I changed schools a lot, and got used to making new friends, but also to expecting to probably move again. So as I progressed through school and found that some relationships weren’t the best for my growth, I knew that it wouldn’t last forever. And that’s completely normal. In fact, I think that this was what made my life at uni easier in my first year, socially.

Don’t take all this the wrong way – I’m not saying that you shouldn’t invest in your relationships and keep in touch with people. But if you do happen to lose touch with someone, or you find that they are toxic for you and you grow apart, that’s totally fine. And I hope you know by now that who you hang out with has a profound influence on who we grow into. We do become like our friends, to a certain extent.

Oh, and also, people aren’t perfect. Sometimes, you’re going to get annoyed and want to go home and change the scenery for a couple of days – or even a week. I’m currently at home doing just that. Ok, so it’s not all because of friends and stuff – I was stressed from work and, fortunately, I know the warning signs for when I’m getting burned out. Listen to yourself! If you need a break, take it. Whatever gives you that rest… it’s so important. And if you’re finding your friends get on your nerves… that’s fine. It’s not forever (hopefully) but people will annoy you sometimes. You probably annoy someone else too occasionally. (I know, it’s not often something you would think about yourself.) but yeah.

I used to think that going home was a sign of failure. But then my mum pointed out that this was the first time in a year and a half that I’ve come home when things got rough. It’s not failure, or weakness. Other people just don’t talk about it, but really they are having a similar experience most of the time. Everyone’s trying to be brave… and sometimes it’s best to retreat for a bit and recover. It’ll make you stronger, trust me.

I’m just giving my observations here – feel free to agree or disagree. Comment if you’ve had a similar experience/different experience – I would be really interested to know what you think!

End of a Chapter

Completed. There goes year 1… 3 to go and I know there’s a heck of a lot to come! Thanks for all of you following along on my mad journey through life and uni and becoming a (real) adult.

Dad came to pick me up – my stuff only just fit into our car!

It feels like time has flown now, but there were definitely moments where it was really tough and I couldn’t imagine just how I would get through it all. I think uni has proven to be the opposite of what I was expecting in many ways… So I thought I’d sum up some stuff I’ve learned for any of you out there reading this and thinking about uni but have yet to experience it!

So yeah, here it is…

Things I’ve learned in year 1

1. First year might not be your best year. It’s true… A startlingly large percentage of freshers actually don’t enjoy freshers week or their first year… it happens. I was one of these (kind of… I loved my course and my societies… but my flat mates were hard to handle at times!!) Be prepared for anything to happen. Maybe it won’t be like this for you, and if it isn’t, that’s great! But if you do find that it’s a little bit disappointing or you feel homesick or you feel like you have no friends… this is NORMAL and actually most people are probably feeling exactly the same… they are just covering it up! Talk to people and be honest… that’s the best way to make friends anyway. If they know that you’re going through the same thing you’ll probably find most of the time they’ll agree and admit that they have found first year to be a bit less than the amazing experience it’s bigged up to be. The main thing is not quitting. Unless you know for sure it’s not gonna work and your course is wrong… quitting because you don’t get on with your flat mates isn’t always the best solution!!

2. Keep in contact – yeah your parents are going to be further away now and maybe you feel like it’s uncool to ring them up once (even, dare I say, twice) a week and that once you’re at uni that’s IT. No more contact at all except at the holidays. This is sooo not true and actually your parents are going to be there for you because they love you. Make sure you have talked about finances before you go and feel comfortable talking about them when you’re there too – it helps with loans and food money etc.

3. Make new contacts – getting involved in societies which really interest you, and a new church too, are really super important. These are where you’re gonna make new friends and find out new interests and skills, and they’ll give you a break from lectures and studying.

4. You don’t have to drink! (Or club… Power to the early-to-bed people!) Seriously, everyone at uni is waaay more chilled out than people in Sixth form/A-levels and school. If you don’t want to drink, just say so, and stick to your guns. There is absolutely no need to drink because you feel pressured to or go out and stay up really late because it’s what everyone else is doing. If they can’t accept that it’s just not what you do, then they aren’t really your friends… but most people are pretty easy what ever you decide! My flatmates asked me if I wanted to go out with them the ENTIRE YEAR and I just said no every time pretty much. What I did instead sometimes was hang around when they had pre-drinks (“prees”) in the flat and talk/socialise, then when they went out I would just go to bed or watch a movie or whatever. Don’t feel like you have to impress people – they will figure out pretty quickly if you’re just putting on a show when you can’t maintain it anyway!

5. If you’re a Christian… make sure you know your stuff! This might not apply to everyone reading this, but to those that it does… Try and prepare yourself for the questions people are gonna ask you. Do you believe in…?? Sex before marriage. Taking drugs. Masterbation (yes, I’ve actually been asked about my stance on this!). Homosexuality. Everything and anything can be asked about. Even if you go to Church every week. Just make sure you have an opinion basically, because you never know if you might have to argue or explain it. I basically decided I wasn’t going to bash people with my faith… I wasn’t even going to tell them straight up “Hey guys I’m a Christian”. Usually people can tell after a while that there’s something a little different about you (usually the fact that you don’t swear!). I just treat people like my friends and get on with life. If they are curious, they’ll ask, but there’s no need to make a massive deal out of it, as you could just end up alienating them! This is just my experience so take it or leave it 🙂

6. If you can’t do it, say no. And don’t beat yourself up either! You don’t have to always say yes. You get tired, and that’s ok. Don’t try and take on the world. You don’t need to do EVERYTHING. Freshers is a great time to join a bazillion societies (even though you probably won’t be able to go to all of them anyway) and yes a thousand times get stuck in … but pace yourself and don’t burn out!

7. Budget. And try and stick to it. I have an overdraft I haven’t touched. I have a set amount for food, I pay my tithe (10% of my earnings to the church) and I put another 10% into my saving account (if I can). The other 80% is for whatever I need it for. 80-10-10.

8. You might not get on with everyone. If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’ll know I’ve actually had a really tough time in my flat. At first I thought it was all amazing, during freshers and the few weeks after, when everyone was trying to make a good impression. But pretty quickly, people will reveal their true colours. It happens. You’re living with them – and when you’re in that close of a contact with someone you are going to find out what they are really like. The key is to try and be as patient as possible (it’s hard, I know!) and forgive them and move on. I blame myself a lot, and this isn’t a great reaction either. It’s not necessarily your fault that you find it hard to live with them. Some people are just hard to live with! (If you do struggle in this area, make sure you talk to someone about it and keep them close, as it will keep you sane!).

9. Don’t go home too much. Yeah, if you can, go home once or twice a term between holidays. Try and space it out too. The more you go home, the more you’ll realise how much you miss it, and the harder it’ll be to come back!! Everyone will get the January Blues after Christmas, so you aren’t alone! (Again, talk about it with someone, it will keep help you keep going).

10. Remember God is going with you. It hit me a few weeks in that I wasn’t going to uni on my own, being dumped there and that was it, I now had to make friends in order to survive. God is your dad, your best friend. You can talk to him at any time. Remember you are never alone in this, and no matter what happens, he will provide and he will keep you safe.

 

Feel free to comment below any questions you might have about first year etc if you’ve managed to read this far and have anything I haven’t covered!! I would love to answer your questions 🙂

Just a few more pics from today… some daisies from James and Naomi’s garden (some friends of ours from our Church who moved to Devon.) We are currently staying with some family friends but we went to see James and Nai today and their kids just to catch up and go to the beach!

Here’s the beach we went to for a few hours in the afternoon. It was nice and hot!


#ladsontour – or rather my little brothers and sister chilling with me on the rocks at the beach playing ‘Cheese and Wine’ (it’s a game).

 

Cool so that’s it! We came back to our other friends’ house and had tea. I was really hungry by then! Now we’re all playing Catan and chilling (not me obviously, I’m updating y’all!)

I’m feeling proud that I got this far and amazed at how much I’ve learned. There is so much more I could write but I thought 10 points was enough for one night!

My battery is literally about to die as I type this so I’m going to finish this and post – have a great summer everyone! I may just post a few recipes from now on… but I’ll definitely be back for year 2!

Adios! (Пока пока).

Hello world!

The story begins!

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Isn’t it a good thing I don’t look like a real babelfish :’)

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Anyway – allow me to introduce myself. My name is Charis. Pronounced Ka-ris, not Cha-ris…. and not Claris or Kerris either. Just Charis. It’s a Greek name. No I’m not actually Greek, it was my parent’s choice. They liked it.

My life is about to change. No seriously. I’M GOING TO UNI. Exeter in fact. To study Spanish with beginner’s Russian. Yes, you heard me, with Russian. Why, you might ask? The challenge, new alphabet, I get to go abroad in my 3rd year and not my second (this made me choose against doing Arabic)… so yeah. Russian it is.

Anyway. The Blog. Yes, I guess I’d better explain the point behind all of this. I love to write. Hopefully, I write well, and you’ll carry on reading my nonsense and deriving a certain degree of amusement from it. Furthermore (boring-but-cool A-level English Lit word), I guess that after having tried to find a useful student site run by a student for other students and only coming up with, what, maybe two? I decided I would be the one dive in head first and make my own. So, here it is, 4th September, the day after my 19th birthday, and a week before the day I’m due to arrive at my new home; I’m not packing, sorting student finance or even watching a movie. I’m writing.

This blog is for students. No, scratch that, it’s for anyone that stumbles across it. I will be posting anything, from freshers to cooking to sport, music and who knows what else. I’ll post photos too (I have a great camera!). In essence, I just want to be me on here.

Hope that’s cool with everyone? 😉