more than surviving

Friday, 5 October 2018

University is kind of a terrifying experience. Moving away from home, living in a new place, meeting new people and studying on a whole new academic level is an awful lot to deal with in one go. If you've been around on my blog for a little while it might not be a surprise to you that I found my undergraduate a totally overwhelming experience. I struggled and stressed and worried for three years straight - I had a panic attack that included the really ugly, messy kind of crying on my third day there (in front of two office staff and a lecturer - great first impression I made!) and that just set the tone really.  London, despite being a city I'd had my heart set on for a decade, was a very harsh place for me. It was always slightly too much: too busy, too loud, too fast paced and I constantly felt like I was on the outside looking in, not really a part of the bustling city life but also not really wanting to be.

That being said I don't regret going to London, or staying there. I can't regret the decision that resulted in the most wonderful bunch of weirdo's - girls I'm privileged to know let alone count as friends. I can't wish I'd picked a different path when it brought me back to writing, when it has led me to studying my passion in a city I'm falling more in love with every day.

I second guessed every moment I spent in London, never feeling capable and always feeling more like I was just surviving than actually living. In Edinburgh it's already a completely different story - I know it's still very early days but I'm actually living in this city as opposed to surviving each day and disliking most of them. Every part of it has completely captured my heart and I haven't found anywhere I don't like yet. Edinburgh even looks magical when it's miserable and gloomy! Putting aside how pretty everywhere is for a minute I do feel like there are tangible reasons for this feeling and have summed up my top four.

Everything is within walking distance. It might be a little bit of trek but from my accommodation I can get to pretty much everywhere I would ever want to go (and then some more) without ever getting on a bus. Walking is good for general health reasons and is also a major part of my self care so being able to just get up and go, whether it's for a reason or not, is amazing. It's also a hell of a lot cheaper; one pair of good shoes vs constantly buying bus tickets was a no brainer for me. (I am also planning on doing a specific walk each week so let me know if you have your favourites / reading about my experiences getting lost exploring the city would be something be interested in!)

I can climb every mountain. Oh yes. You better believe that the sound of music soundtrack is definitely up in my top listens now because hello? I can literally spin around on top of mountains (carefully) whilst humming The Hills are Alive. Why would I choose to listen to anything else? Honestly Edinburgh is truly the best of both worlds to me. I can go to all the bookshops my heart desires, walk down semi-busy streets until I've had enough and can then literally turn down the road to be in the middle of an almost empty park in seconds. The sheer amount of nature and greenery scattered all over the place is amazing. I'm definitely a country girl at heart so knowing I can walk for ten minutes and find myself staring up at an actual mountain is both wonderful and ridiculous in equal measures.

Not being 18 & Terrified. An obvious one maybe but still important (possibly the most important to be honest) is that I'm four years older. Moving to London was a seriously stressful experience and I know now that I was in no way ready to leave home when I did. I was terrified, homesick and too anxious to really do anything that might help either of those. Don't get me wrong, I'm very much still an anxious person; self-doubt and worry are my go-to mode in almost every situation but I'm older. I've learnt how to manage my own thoughts; what to do when I want to go home so badly it hurts, what my body and mind need to be healthy.

I'm 22 and slightly scared instead of literally being too terrified to leave my room. I'm willing to go out and explore the city, to walk all the places that are walkable. I have confidence now that 18 year old me could never even dream of possessing. I'm already out to all my flatmates and have no qualms about queer representation/stories being my Brand™ in class. I'm comfortable in my quietness but I'm also comfortable in talking to people and striking up a conversation, four years ago that would have made me run away in terror.

Culture sponge. That sounded great in my head but now it's typed out seems like a truly terrible phrase. Yeesh. Okay, moving on. "Culture Sponge" - by this I mean that the number of art galleries and museums and just truly cool history things scattered about the city is huuuuuuuuuge. Also the majority of them are free or at least do a good student discount so I am fully intending to make the most of that and just soak up everything I can; like a sponge. Partly because I'm doing a writing degree and what would be better than useful procrastination, and partly because I am a major nerd and history is the one thing in school I enjoyed that didn't involve books so getting back into absorbing heaps of culture and obscure facts is a Very Good Thing in my mind.

Now you might have read the first paragraph of this post and thought "if university was so bad the first time why on earth did you decide to go back?" and in that case I truly do not blame you; I had the same thought myself, several times over.

Ultimately it comes down to three things:
1) I'm not 18 and terrified anymore.
2) I realised that my passion for writing outweighs my fear for everything else, I had this amazing opportunity staring at me and I would have been a total fool if I'd let it pass by me.
3) I'm 22. It's about time I started living my life instead of just surviving it.

The four reasons above combined with the fact that I'm absolutely loving every moment of my course are proof enough for me that whilst it may have been a slightly ambitious (and daft) decision to make, it was 100% the right one.

I'm doing more than just surviving. I'm living.



  1. I love this - I had exactly the same experience at uni. I went to uni in London and really didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I'm in Birmingham working now and absolutely love it! Glad that I wasn't alone in not enjoying the London lifestyle.

  2. Aww I'm so glad you're having a much more positive experience now, and your edinburgh photies are beautiful! This post made me so happy eloise! x

    Anne //