Fourth year Iona Murfitt reflects on her experience at Glasgow, what she has learned, and her advice for current first year students.
I’m looking at the class photo that we took in first year. Couldn’t I keep my eyes open? What am I wearing? Wasn’t it yesterday when I groggily stumbled off the coach at Buchanan Bus Station after a 14 hour coach ride, all set to embark on my journey to study law at the University of Glasgow?
To be fair, it was risky. My school teachers had warned me that I would feel isolated, going so far away from the sunny South of England which I called home. I had never been to Scotland, and driving past the city centre’s dilapidated buildings - which I now love and consider Glasgow's charm - I wondered if I’d made the right decision. However, while I didn’t know this at the time, my time at Glasgow would prove to be the best university experience that I could have ever asked for.
"I had never been to Scotland, and driving past the city centre’s dilapidated buildings - which I now love and consider Glasgow's charm - I wondered if I’d made the right decision."
Each year brought its own lessons. First year taught me to be more open to things. For someone coming from a protective family, the world was suddenly a very big place. While I established some boundaries for myself, I checked off most freshers’ events; be it a walking trip to big Tesco, or the Massaoke and white t-shirt party where a then teetotal fresher had her first taste of nightlife. Being open to new opportunities helped me realise what I wanted to pursue and helped me find my place at University.
With so much going on, I initially worried about trying to go to every event. However, freshers’ week was never a pressured affair. One of my favourite moments was the night my flatmates and I stayed in and we climbed and "swam" through a roof-high pillow and duvet fortress that we found in my accommodations’ reception, made out of all the extra beddings from the rooms. Nights out were great, but I met my closest friends in Queen Margaret and Winton Drive’s kitchens and our cosy common room with the free caramel wafer bars and cans of Irn Bru.
I also learned that, as corny as it sounds, university is a portal for releasing your potential. I never held myself back: I dabbled in everything. I pushed myself to apply to be first year student representative for the School of Law and soon found myself having dinner with Lady Hale; definitely one of my degree’s highlights. I took part in societies, sticking a massive planner on my noticeboard to keep track of all the bizarre things I had planned. Looking back, I’m glad I used first year to put myself out there.
"I also learned that, as corny as it sounds, university is a portal for releasing your potential. I never held myself back..."
Second year was quieter. After a tearful goodbye to QM, I moved to a run-down flat and said goodbye to the hundreds of freshers that once lived around me, as everyone was now scattered around the West End. I also soon realised that while cheap rent is great, it’s important to live somewhere where you feel safe commuting from, and getting an inventory is crucial. Nevertheless, while shady Maryhill was hardly paradise, this year taught my friends and I to find ways to plan things regardless of how far we now lived from each other.
Third year rolled in soon enough. Gone were the days when I could say ‘’it doesn’t matter, it’s not like this year counts!’’ Nevertheless, this year taught me the importance of leaving work pressure in the library and coming home and wind down with a movie with friends, tea and a good chat, or a walk during a study break. This was especially useful as I didn’t have flatmates for a lot of the year due to Covid, and it was easy to overthink issues with work.
And here is my fourth year. I don’t have much to say as yet. I have two lovely flatmates who put up with me being the talkative klutz that I am and post-Covid life is looking good. Every moment of this year will be cherished, and I urge you to enjoy every moment of all the years that you have left too. Time flies by, but you can start new things at any time, and make friends till the day you graduate. University is really whatever you want to make of it.
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