One year ago, I shared an honest review of my first year at university. The word I used to describe it was ‘challenging’ but long story short, it was a f*cking hard year. Despite making some really good friends and have some great memories, I remember that year the most as being one in which I struggled massively with anxiety, to the point of nearly dropping out.
As I began my second year, I decided that I was going to put in maximum effort to try everything I wanted- go to every social I had been too nervous to attend the year before and make the most of every opportunity. And from my mid-degree update it was evident life was going pretty well. However, I had essentially spent 10 weeks partying, dancing and studying minimally, so the real challenge was still ahead of me, in the form of exams.
Anyone who knows me knows I suck under exam pressure. They make me lose my chill, appetite, sleep and sanity. In my journal, every entry in January ended with ‘I’m so f*cking tired’ and the grand finale to a month of stress was a panic attack right before my last exam, downing two double pints afterwards on an empty stomach and missing my coach to the airport the following morning.
To help manage summer exams, I spoke to my university wellbeing team at the start of semester 2. The outcome was not very useful; I had a couple of meetings with various wellbeing counsellors before joining *the list* of people who have requested help. I ended up just requesting short term prescription drugs from my GP closer to exam time to help me sleep and keep my heart rate down. Not an ideal stress management strategy for life, but definitely one that worked for me that month.
I surfed more in the first half of this year than ever in my life before. On the trip I nearly missed after exams in the winter, I had one of the best weeks of my life so far. I got to live with the most fun people and surf every day and I don’t know if I have ever laughed so hard or so much in my life. Thankfully I will be living with the sources of much of my laughter in my final year, so I’m hoping that’ll be just as fun! I also spent most of June on various surf trips, tried (and failed at) skateboarding, went camping/festivalling and stayed it the nicest Airbnb by the seafront in France.
So, big thanks to Luke Evason who literally dragged me to that surf house party in November that I definitely didn’t plan on attending, where I was convinced to book a place on the trip to Fuerteventura. If we hadn’t bumped into each other in the SU earlier that day, I’m not sure my life would be the same right now.
Another big part of my life this year were the early morning training sessions, regular Wednesday nights out and amazing friends that came with another year as a Bath Jet. Some of my favourite memories from this year were performing at Varsity, going to Bingo Lingo and losing my fake tan virginity.
The first thing I ever posted on this blog was about my ‘happiness project’, where I’d write one thing every day that made me happy on a post-it note and put it in a jar. With a similar concept in mind of increasing my awareness of the good things in my life, this year I started keeping note in my journal of things I was grateful for. Although the task seemed a bit mundane at times, it really helped me keep perspective when I was having a bad day, as I was already in the mindset of looking for reasons to be grateful rather than unhappy.
The next year
Finally, like the majority of students who attend Bath University, I have decided to do a placement year before my final year of studies. My reason for doing this rather than my originally planned study year abroad, is because I desperately need a break from sitting exams. However, I do still want to spend some time abroad and explore a few different career paths.
Overall, this year was the happiest of my life so far. Some of that can be seen through the photos I’ve shared, but most of my life happens in bad lighting and the biggest changes have been invisible. I am grateful for every single person who has been part of my uni experience thus far, so thank you friends(!) and I am very very excited for this next chapter of my life!