Student life’s not so tragicTweet
Joined: Oct 2011Occupation: studying History at LeedsAlex's Full Profile
A few weeks ago, as I was scrolling down articles on the OpinionPanel Community, I came across an extremely pessimist view. For me, Adam Brooks’ article on ‘The tragedy of the student lifestyle’ is a sad read. Though very well written, it screams a negative outlook on life, and completely conflicts with my more favorable perception of university life.
In his article, Adam uses an example of a girl babbling about her love for ice cream as an ‘example of the vicious caricaturing of a person’s individuality’ that he has noticed in fellow first year students, and goes on to conclude that ‘university experience isn’t everything it was cracked up to be’. To a certain extent, I can understand Adam’s point regarding the pressures to conform that university life can bring, and how the early months of university can be monotonous as you strive to meet as many people as possible, and get involved in university life. Of course, at first, it is natural to feel uncomfortable at times, and perhaps the tendency to become a slightly exaggerated version of yourself is likely. However, this ‘horrible exaggeration of character’ clearly settles down after a few weeks, as friendships become established and students get used to university. The need to fit the student stereotype fades. I certainly haven’t felt pressured to conform to the stereotype with regards to the ‘drinking, eating, sleeping, partying, sex’. That is not to say that I have not partaken in those activities, because I have, and I can understand how that pressure could be there, but who says you have to conform to it? Surely there are other, more important, aspects of university to participate in if those aspects don’t interest you.
In my opinion, the whole point of university is to have a great experience by developing yourself for the better, whether that is academically, socially, or in terms of skills. The main thing is that whatever you get involved in, you should be having a great time, and hopefully learning something. I think the beauty of the beginning of the university experience is that you can start a fresh and be whoever you want to be.
Consequently, I struggle to comprehend Adam’s argument that these are not the best years of your life. It is of course impossible to say at present what the best years of your life will be, but my first year as a ‘fresher’ has been my favourite in my life so far. Yes, many of us still rely on our family and friends for money and support, but this is the closet thing to freedom and independence that we have experienced yet in our lives, and so far I am happily making the most of it.
Adam describes ‘University being a hedonistic Disneyland of opportunity’ with a cynical tone, but for me, university really does provide a multitude of opportunities. The endless supply of societies, teams, and activities you can get involved in, and the huge variety of people you can meet at university is astounding. I’ve already learnt and experienced things I never thought I would have the opportunity to. To name a few, I’ve become involved in the student newspaper, had an article published on The Times online, had an awesome weekend with the History society in Amsterdam, and successfully hitchhiked to Morocco for charity. University is your ‘Disneyland of opportunity’ if you choose to make it so. If not, it is your loss.
When I look back on my time as a student in the years to come, there will be memories I’m proud of, memories I’m most certainly not, things I wish I could do again, and things I regret; but I am certain that overall I will look back very fondly. Am I an ‘unfortunate and fallible dupe’ because I think this? No, I am not. I fail to understand what is wrong with having ‘mindless and spurious enthusiasm’. If we don’t have bouts of enthusiasm when we’re young, when on earth when will we have it? Yes, you have to work some of the time. That’s part of the fun, (as long as you enjoy what you are studying!) The university experience is what you make of it; if you look at it with the pessimistic, glass-half-empty attitude, then that is the experience you will have.
I am not advocating for one to ‘dress up like a cheerleader, force yourself on strangers, and wander round vomiting on pavements’ for the rest of your days, but you should enjoy and make the most of your years at university. Life is too short to live with a cynical, negative attitude. After all, you only live once, (‘yolo’ as many of us ‘dupes’ would say), and not everyone gets the opportunity to have a university experience.
I may look back on my life and decide that my university days were not the best of my life. Maybe the best years of my life will be linked to a career, or settling down and having a family, but I’m sure my university days will rank highly in the periods of my life I have enjoyed the most. I agree with Adam that freedom is different to happiness, but right now I’ve both.Tweet