University is kind of a big deal. Although many people will tell you otherwise, it’s just the reality of facts. When choosing your University, you are not simply picking a course over another: you are selecting a city, a set of people, a whole experience over another, as scary as that sounds.
I remember being on the verge of finishing High School and more desperate than ever, trying to figure out which University to choose amongst the ones I had been accepted in.
I distinctly remembered my friends telling me, “if you really have the will to succeed, you will make it anywhere you go”.
And isn’t that true, really? Although life can be difficult, I believe as long as you are ambitious enough, anything is possible. I was and still am sure of that, and made the decision to move to Scotland based on that. Yet, over the years I got to realise that although your ambition is your strongest asset, there are many things which escape your individual will. It’s not only about success, but about who you become and the experiences which shape your growth. Coming to University is more than studying something for three or four years: it is a life-changing experience, which expands your knowledge in new ways and opens up your mind to unknown realities.
So yes, you can be as ambitious as you like, but it’s the place you’re to that is going to define those ambitions. And it’s the place you’re in that is going to provide you with experiences to shape your personality onwards.
My personal example is that my initial plan was, in fact, to study in London. I was in love with the city, the chaotic mess that it is and its constant flow of people, coming and going from all parts of the globe. And of course, the cheap flights too. However, as I gradually got adjusted to the idea, the financial reality of the whole ordeal slowly but steaduly dawned on me, not only in terms of University costs but also of living expenses. Regrettably, I eventually realised that I was not quite ready to spend three years of my life worrying about whether I could really afford that pint with my course mates on a Friday night. In a way, I picked the easier way and chose to attend a course which would grant me an easier life – at least financially. On the other hand though, it was a pretty crazy decision as I knew next to nothing about Aberdeen and I was also abandoning the dream of studying in the British capital.
A friend once told me that sometimes, the most difficult decision is the one that seems the easiest. So there I was, with a suitcase full of mixed feelings, tentatively boarding my one-way flight to the next step of my life, finally beginning the adventure in a completely foreign land.
Do I regret it? Hell yes, sometimes. As happy as I am with how things turned out four years down the line, I can’t help but feel that my whole life would be completely different had I chosen a different path. Graduating in Public Relations, London would have been a logical choice – not simply because of the location, but also the amount of events and work opportunities popping up like mushrooms at every corner.
But, have I come to terms with it? I’ve done that too. Because life is often about making do the most difficult way: it is about making choices, hard choices, learning to live with them and make the most of what you’ve got. It is about finding the beauty in all things, and about creating your own opportunity even when there seems to be none around you.
If someone asked me, what I really wish I had known before starting uni, it is that whilst it is true that you can do whatever the hell you want if you really believe in it, you really must work hard to achieve it. And that the environment that you encapsulate yourself in, really makes a huge impact on who you aspire and grow to be. A University, a city, a group of friends, really make all the difference in the world: so choose wisely, always, and evaluate all before making your final decision. Don’t expect opportunities knocking on your door and make your own reality!
Or at least, this is my story. What’s yours?