My University Experience

Hi everyone! Today I thought I would talk a little bit about University and what my experience was like. This post is inspired my current read Radio Silence by Alice Oseman where a certain quote stood out to me in the first couple of chapters;

  • “Being clever was, after all, my primary source of self-esteem. I’m a very sad person, in all senses of the word, but at least I was going to University.”

This quote really stuck out to me because I feel it represents me perfectly. All I have ever wanted was to go to University, even when my mental health was suffering with the stress of pushing myself too far at Sixth Form, that didn’t matter as long as I got A’s and A*’s and got into a good University. But I realised that good grades and a good University aren’t everything when you are unhappy.

From September 2014 – June 2016, I attended my school’s Sixth Form. My AS subjects were English Literature, Sociology, Psychology, French and Citizenship (which was a required subject). For the most part I enjoyed these subjects, however French became rather difficult around February time and I gave up revising for it in order to focus on my other subjects. I sat my 8 exams in May 2015 and received 2 A’s in Sociology and Psychology, 2 B’s in English Literature and Citizenship, and a D in French (which was honestly much better than I was expecting!) As such, I dropped French and went into my second year of Sixth Form with the other four subjects.

I much preferred Year 13 to Year 12 – I thought the subject content was a lot more interesting and already having done half of my overall A Level (I know that this has now changed and your AS grades no longer count towards your overall grade), I was content to sit back and relax a bit more. I applied for University in October and received Conditional Offers from my 5 choices by the end of March. My 5 choices were Chester studying English Literature (I didn’t even bother looking round here, school just wanted me to have a low grade back up), Edge Hill studying English, Liverpool studying English, Lancaster studying English Literature and Loughborough studying Publishing and English. I hopped over to UCAS and firmed Loughborough, making Edge Hill my Insurance Choice. I needed AAB or ABB (if I received the latter, the A had to be in English) to get into Loughborough and if I remember rightly, BBC to get into Edge Hill.

I sat my 7 exams in June and barely slept until Results Day in August. I woke up around 7:30, checked UCAS at 8 and saw that I had gotten into Loughborough and at 9 I received my results and was faced with utter disappointment. Whilst I was ecstatic to have gotten into, what I thought was, my “Dream Uni”, I was gutted with my results because I am such a perfectionist. The goal I had set myself was 2 A*’s in Sociology and Psychology and 2 A’s in English Lit and Citizenship but what I actually got was an A* in Citizenship, 2 A’s in Sociology and Psychology and a B in English Lit. I was expecting a B in English because my exam had gone horrifically, to the point where I contemplated just walking out, but I was so unbelievably gutted to have only gotten an A in Sociology which had been my best subject all year. I spent a few weeks moping and then got myself ready to head 2 and a half hours away from home to Loughborough University.

I sobbed. The day I moved in and it was time for my parents to leave, I sobbed. I remember repeating “I’m not going to fit in here, I know I’m not going to like it” and my mum thought I was being utterly ridiculous but it turns out I was right! I hated my time at Loughborough. I never felt settled, I hated living away from home and in halls and I hadn’t really found some true friends. I liked the girls on my course, there were only 13 of us so we got to know each other pretty well but I wouldn’t have called any of them my best friends. I enjoyed my course – I received 2 2:1’s in my first two assignments which I was really happy with but the course wasn’t enough to keep me there when I was so miserable. After Christmas, I went back to Uni for two weeks to finish the Semester and then I came home for 3 weeks because my course didn’t have exams so whilst the rest of Uni was sitting those, we were free to do what we pleased. As the 3 weeks ended, I knew that I didn’t want to go back. I was barely sleeping, eating and I was crying all the time and in the end my mum said “just don’t go back.” So I didn’t (well except to clear up my room and hand my keys back). Leaving Uni when I did left me in £8000 worth of debt that I had to start paying back immediately but the relief of knowing I didn’t have to go back outweighed my money problems. I got a part time job and applied for University again for September 2017.

I knew when applying the second time that I didn’t want to live away from home which narrowed my options down to Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan, Salford and Huddersfield. Salford and Huddersfield were quickly ruled out as they would take the longest to get to travelling from home and thus were impractical. Manchester was then ruled about because I only got a B in English and I needed 3 A’s to get in so Manchester Metropolitan became my only option. I applied for English and English / Sociology, receiving Unconditional Offers for both (because I already had my exam grades) and I firmed English / Sociology because I loved Sociology at school and thought I might continue with it. Flash forward a couple of months and I had changed my mind and so swapped my course to English which is what I am going to be studying when I begin attending in a few weeks.

I don’t know what to expect from Manchester Metropolitan. And honestly, I am still a bit embarrassed to say that’s where I am going. This may sound incredibly snobby but when you are such a high achiever like myself, consistently getting A’s and A*’s and someone who was put forward as a potential Oxbridge student, Manchester Metropolitan felt like settling. I’d exceeded the grade requirements to get in and there is stigma around Uni’s that aren’t Russell Group or who have Metropolitan, or Becket, or Hallam after their name that makes people think of them as not good Uni’s. But I know now that this is not the case. Manchester Metropolitan is a much better fit for me than Manchester would have been. I do not know yet whether it will be a better fit for me academically than Loughborough was but I know that it is much better place for my mental health and for me to grow as a person.

I sincerely hope that I enjoy my time there as getting a degree is something I have always wanted. But I realised that it doesn’t matter where I get that degree from, so long as I get one and am happy in the process.

I really hope you enjoyed reading this post and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment or tweet me @chloelovesbooks.

I also really hope I didn’t offend anyone with my comments on Manchester Metropolitan – those are just some thoughts that have plagued me and I know that I only believe them due to my own ignorance (and also school’s insistence on shoving Russell Group Uni’s down our throats and not discussing other options!)

Vicious by V. E. Schwab

Rating – 5/5

“Victor and Eli started out as college roommates – brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognised the same ambition in each other. A shared interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up with his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl with a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find – aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the arch-nemeses have set a course for revenge – but who will be left alive at the end?”

This is the final book I had left to read of V. E. Schwab’s and I’m so glad I picked it up (I even managed to get a signed copy from Waterstones!) This book is very different from the fantasy books of hers I have read but I loved it all the same.

The story was so unique and I found it to be a really interesting topic to read about. I thought the pacing of the book was excellent as we discovered everything at just the right time. I enjoyed the past and present chapters – it was so interesting reading about Victor and Eli at school, learning about EO’s, to them practicing their abilities in the present day. The characters were so interesting – it was difficult to like and dislike them because they both believed they were doing the right thing. I did like Victor more, perhaps due to us following his perspective throughout the book. I found the element of religion really interesting also.

I can’t wait for the sequel to be released, even though I was satisfied with the ending as if this book were a stand-alone.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Rating – 5/5

“Henry ‘Monty’ Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding school in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to cure ay of his roguish passions – not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men. But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and travelling companion, Percy. Still, it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah ad flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.”

I’m utterly obsessed with this book and I adored it from start to finish. I was worried my high expectations would let it down but I devoured it in a matter of hours and it was swiftly become one of my favourite books of all time.

The story was so much fun – I laughed aloud, I cried, I sat grinning to myself like a maniac. I just couldn’t put this book down! I adored the characters – Percy is so incredibly precious and is definitely in my list of favourite characters; I loved Henry, even though he was a total idiot, his heart was in the right place and I enjoyed loving Percy alongside him; Felicity was so cool and I can’t wait to read the sequel which follows her on what I hope will be another epic adventure! I loved travelling Europe with these characters and getting a taste for what these cities were like in the 1700’s. What I really liked about this book were the Author’s Notes which I rarely read but gave tons of background information that was really interesting to read.

I can’t recommend this book enough and I already can’t wait to read it again.

 

Wanderlost by Jen Malone

Rating – 3/5

“Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe. Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their prefect plan unravels, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story. But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is – she just hopes she likes where she ends up.”

I enjoyed this book but I didn’t love it. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t really in the mood to read this book which probably affected my rating, and I was expecting so much from this book that I was little disappointed with that I read.

I adored the travel aspect of this book and I loved experiencing all of the European cities alongside Aubree. I found a new love for Europe and added a couple of cities to my bucket list. Unfortunately, this is all I really loved about the book. I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters – I didn’t not like them, but I also didn’t love them. Some of the events that occurred were also incredibly far-fetched which made the story seem less real in my opinion.

I would recommend this book if you’re looking for travel books or sickly sweet contemporary romance.

Because You Love to Hate Me, Edited by Ameriie

Rating – 3/5

“Leave it to the heroes to save the world. Villains just want to rule it. In this unique YA anthology, thirteen acclaimed authors team up with thirteen influential BookTubers to create tales from the often-misunderstood villains’ point of view. Prepare for spins on the classics you think you know, and dark insights into new tales. Read the heartbreak, vengeance and pain that it takes to bring down an angel… and make a demon.”

This book was highly anticipated and whilst I didn’t love it as much I was expecting to, I did enjoy the book and a few stories really stood out.

I was familiar with around half of the authors who have tales in this book so it was nice to read something from authors I would probably have never heard of if not for this anthology. Whilst I didn’t find a new favourite author, I did enjoy what I read. My favourite stories were Shirley & Jim by Susan Dennard, Death Knell by Victoria Schwab (this was obviously going to be a favourite as Victoria is one of my favourite authors), Marigold by Samantha Shannon and The Blood of Imuriv by Renee Ahdieh. I fell in love with the characters of these 4 stories and the stories themselves were unique and stood out above the rest. To be quite honest, the rest of the stories weren’t very memorable and I couldn’t really remember them, even after I’d just read them. I really like the BookTube influence and the small additions they made to the stories.

This book was really original and there are some truly wonderful stories that will be appeal to everyone. I highly recommend picking this book up if you get a chance.

Solitaire by Alice Oseman

Rating – 4.5/5

“My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now. Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden. I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do. And I don’t care about Michael Holden. I really don’t.”

This is the first book I’ve read by Alice Oseman and I absolutely loved it! It’s by no means the best book I’ve ever read but there’s something about it that I just adored.

The characters are so vibrant and authentic – I completely adored Nick and Charlie and I’m so excited to read Heartstopper, a comic Alice is writing all about the two of them. I related to quite a lot of the feelings Tori experienced which made the story all the more special. I flew through it, despite it being character driven and not too much happening compared to a plot-based book – I just couldn’t put it down! I loved the Solitaire aspect and I found it to be very reminiscent of Nerve, although not quite to the extreme of that book. It added a really unique element to the story and I enjoyed how it played out at the end. I also really loved how the book was set at a Sixth Form college as it made the story all the more relatable as I finished Sixth Form myself just a year ago. I adore books set in the UK as they are so much more relatable than American YA but I rarely seem to find them so this book was a treat!

I can’t speak for the mental health representation in this book so I would recommend heading to Goodreads and checking out some reviews as they seem to be quite varied!

I highly recommend this book and I can’t wait to read more from Alice!

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

Rating – 4/5

“Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say. Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen. Their love isn’t a lightning strike, it’s the rumbling roll of thunder. Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him To Rhys, it’s doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.”

This book really surprised me. I found the writing style really easy to follow and the conversational tone made the story very relatable. It was much more of a cute, fluffy romance than I thought it was going to be but it was still enjoyable.

I found the story really captivating and even though I couldn’t really relate to the characters, I really enjoyed them. Tem was my favourite – she was so funny and the kind of person you need to have in your life. Rhys was incredibly sweet and I loved watching his and Steffi’s relationship blossom. I really loved how the chapter headings including a diagram of how that number is said in sign language – it was a really unique aspect and even though it wasn’t part of the story, it furthered my enjoyment of the book.

This is by no means the best contemporary I’ve ever read but it was a really unique story and I learnt a lot from reading it. I highly recommend reading this book and I can’t wait to read more from Sara Barnard.