Let’s Talk About My University Experience *getting personal*

Let’s Talk About My University Experience *getting personal*

October 12, 2019 27 By Stanley Isaacs


Hello everybody, welcome back to my
channel! Today I’m gonna be talking about my experience at university. So if you’re
new here, hello! Welcome! I’m Beth and I just… well I did not … I keep saying this! I
keep saying “I just graduated” or “I graduated recently”. It’s been a whole
year now so I’m kind of coming to terms with the fact that I can’t be like “yeah
I’m a recent graduate” and I’m now just like officially an adult who needs to
sort her life out, maybe. Anyway, a year ago now I graduated from Southampton, so I
have a maths degree. A first-class maths degree. And I would like to talk about
how that was for me, less in terms of the actual maths-y
content because I know that’s not for everybody, although I could make a
separate video about that kind of stuff. But I want to talk more about the
experience, the three years of my life that I was at University, because if
you’ve been here for those three years you’ll know that it’s been a bit of a
rocky time. I want to talk about it all. It’s been a year and I haven’t really
spoken about it. It’s a massive part of my life, it’s three years. So that’s what
I’m gonna be doing today. Now if you haven’t already seen it, the last video I
uploaded was kind of my story about how I chose which uni to go to and how
I eventually ended up going to Southampton, so if you’re interested in
that I’ll link it in the cards up there for you. But you don’t have to watch if
you don’t want to you can just watch this one instead, that’s fine. If you
haven’t watched that video all you really need to know is that I went to
Southampton, my boyfriend who I’ve been with since the first year of college
also went to Southampton but he didn’t go to the Uni of Southampton, he went
to Southampton Solent University. So we were both moving to Southampton at the
same time but I was very clear from the beginning that when we moved in I didn’t
want to see each other for a while so that we could both settle in, find our
own groups of friends and our lives weren’t completely dependent on each other.
I moved there.. I actually remember the date. It was the 19th of September 2015
and I was living in halls. If you’re familiar with Southampton or you may be
going there this year, I was living in Glen. There’s Wessex Lane and Glen Eyre,
which are really big complexes of halls, where there’s lots of different
buildings and there’s like common areas and stuff like that. Glen Eyre was
really nice cos I had a lot of open green spaces where you could have
barbecues and stuff in the summer. I knew in advance which halls I was gonna be in
but I didn’t really know much more than that, and I think I found a couple of
different flatmates who I was going to be with on Facebook. The reason why I
couldn’t find that many people is that I was in like the oldest block in Glen Eyre. I
think it had 14 bedrooms so the whole building had 14 people in it,
which was where I couldn’t really find that many people on Facebook. I think I
was the last one to move in that day. I think I arrived about 6 o’clock or
something, it was quite late. I really wanted to get that early because you
know I’m very anxious and meeting new people… I prefer to have a bit of time to
kind of settle myself in, unpack my stuff and then a bit more time to actually
meet the people that I’m gonna be living with for the next year. But that ended up
not happening which was a shame and everybody else… it felt like they already
knew each other and were a bit more comfortable with each other, whereas I
was the new girl. I really don’t like rushing things so being there as early
as possible if you’re moving in soon, I think that’s a good tip for if you’re a bit anxious
because then you can just have a little bit of time to get yourself
settled and you won’t feel like you’re the last person there and you’re kind of
latching on to everybody else and infiltrating their little group. Which
wasn’t what was happening but it kind of felt like that to me as a very anxious
person. The move in process, although it was very rushed, was fine. For some reason I got
this massive room. There were 14 rooms in my building and they were on two floors. I
was 207 so I was like the second floor right at the end of the corridor, around
the corner where the toilet is, that was where my room was, yay!
I can’t really describe to you how big it is but there’s a room tour video on my
channel – I’ll link it in the cards again – which will just show how big it was.
There was just so much open space which I didn’t…. there was no
furniture to fill that much space but it was very nice, it was a nice luxury to
have this giant room because I was expecting a little cupboard box room.
I think I settled in okay. I’d always been quite an independent person and I’d never
really been that attached to my family, no offence to them, but like my parents
have been split up my whole life basically, so I’ve always been between my mum’s
house and my dad’s house, used to moving around, living out of a suitcase and I
never really spent that much time with my family before moving to uni, it
wasn’t like they were a huge part of my life. This sounds all really horrible. I
don’t mean it in a bad way I just mean like before I moved to uni I was at
college and I would be gone from like 7:30 in the morning to half six at
night, so we didn’t really see each other loads. The transition wasn’t too difficult in terms of missing my family although I did miss them a little bit and I went back to see them.. I think I
went back after three weeks for a weekend to visit my mum. I enjoyed having
my own space, I enjoyed being able to decorate my room a little bit and make
it my own ,and just have my own life. I really enjoyed that. Where I did struggle
a bit was with the socialising. I am a very introverted person. I’m not shy, I
just like my own company. I find socialising drains me, I just would
prefer to be on my own a lot of the time. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to be
around people, sometimes I do, but I also value my own time and that’s like really
precious to me and it’s also really good for like my brain. I just like being on my own. You’re obviously expected to socialise
and I did I tried my best, I really did. I didn’t want to isolate myself and seem
like I wasn’t interested in being these people’s friends because I was. Freshers’
Week was always gonna be a little bit of a struggle, not just because of
the socialising but the kind of partying aspect. The idea of going to a club is
probably one of the worst ways you could spend an evening. I like to drink, I like
to socialise, I like to party a little bit, but clubbing is not for me.
I don’t like loud music, I don’t listen to the kind of music they play in
clubs, I just listen to like rock and metal so I didn’t really know any of the
music that was going on, but I did go out a couple of times. I did try my best to
just embrace it. Freshers’ Week only lasts a week. I think
actually on the first night, the night I moved in so I think this was the
Saturday, everyone in my flat went out and I was too anxious and I just
couldn’t go. I just wanted to stay on my own and get myself settled and that’s
completely fine. There’s no pressure to go out if you don’t want to. If anyone’s
moving to uni soon, don’t feel like you have to go out. I wanted to
make the effort, I wanted to make friends but there are lots of other ways
that you can make friends. You can join societies, you can go to like daytime
events, and just living in your flat in general you become close with your
flatmates. The people who I lived with in first year were all so so lovely
and I did get on with them really well but I think they were a lot closer as a
group then I was with them. I think part of it was just that they were more
sociable people, part of it was that I was doing a very heavy intensive course
because I was in first year maths and there was a lot of stuff.
Like, even in Freshers’ Week, I was in uni everyday doing like
pre lectures. I wanted to set myself up to do well for the year so I was going
to all these events that the maths department were putting on. They have a
good budget to put on a nice little buffet at the end of it so if you go to
Southampton and you fancy some free food I recommend going to the Maths
Student Center at the end of Freshers’ Week because there’s a lot of good food.
I guess the other thing I really found difficult was the massive jump between
A Level maths and university maths. I remember my first lecture, I came out of
it and I just thought “what the fuck have I gotten myself into?”
I felt so drained just from being in there for an hour, my head hurt. In that
lecture we essentially covered the whole of FP4, which is one of the Further Maths modules at A Level, in an hour and that was content that I was already familiar
with so how was I going to cope when there was new content coming on?
It just shocked me, it really took me aback how much of a jump there was just
straight away. You didn’t really get eased into it. Saying that I don’t want
to put anybody off going to uni to do maths because I did adjust to it, it
was just a huge shock to the system at first. I don’t think anything can
actually ever prepare you for that first lecture. You can expect it to be
hard but after the hour your brain will hurt and it’s just something that you’ve
got to adapt to. You do adjust to it, like your brain is
very good at doing that, so that horrible feeling of like “What have I done? Why am
I doing this? Why am I here?”, that doesn’t last forever. Hi, this is Beth from the
future. So the footage you’re about to see is super super blurry. I’m gonna
re-film some stuff but I don’t want to have to re-film the bit I’m about to talk
about because essentially it’s very emotionally draining and I don’t want to
put myself through it twice. So if you just bear with me for this slightly
out-of-focus bit until we get to the end of first year and then I’ll come back
and I’ll talk you through second and third year. There’s very little
computational maths, it’s very heavily theory based, like it’s almost 100%
theory and you literally have to prove every little step you’re doing. It’s just
not something that you’re used to, it’s not something you’re prepared for.
Actually, I think now you might be prepared for it a little bit more because
I’ve been tutoring the new A Level spec and there’s a lot more theory
and proof involved in it, but when I was doing it, four years ago now, yeah. Wow.
That was a big jump. It was a huge jump. I didn’t particularly enjoy
first year in terms of the content that we were doing. Like, the content was
interesting but I think the jump and the way that we were lectured in first year
was just… it was too intense. I made some great friends in first year and this is
the tactic to doing well in a maths degree. You have to have some great
friends who are also doing a maths degree and you have to sit down together
for hours on end and just try and work through some sheets. Hopefully between you
all of your ideas can kind of combine together and get the answer to a
question. So in the first week of pre-lectures, so this was during Freshers’
Week, one of the big positive things that came out of it is that I met Juliet.
I was kind of hovering outside a lecture room waiting to go in for one of these introductory lectures, just kind of introducing you to the University, and
she was like “are you doing maths, is this the right place for this room?” and I was like
“yeah I think so” and then we became friends. We started talking, basically
latched onto each other for the rest of freshers week and then when we started
lectures we had each other to kind of sit and talk through all these questions
with and then we kind of expanded our group. That is probably the sole reason
that I managed to survive first year honestly, because as hard as it was to
begin with it got a lot worse. My life turned upside down and I should not have
put makeup on from this video because there will probably be a couple of tears.
As I mentioned, I moved to Southampton essentially with my boyfriend, who I’d
been with for like a year in a bit when we moved to University. And even though
we didn’t base our lives around each other at Southampton, we had our own
groups of friends, we were at different universities, we like had separate lives;
but we did see each other. It felt like there was a nice balance between my new
uni friends and my kind of college relationship and that group of friends
as well. Again if you’re new around here, I struggled really badly with my mental
health up to sort of age 16 and then my years in college were kind of like a new
start for me and everything started getting a lot better. So I’d been
working so hard on my recovery for the last two years. In the last year of
college I came off of my medication and I was just so happy, and then it came to
University and it felt like that person was gone. I was back in my old
ways and I had worked so hard on getting to that place in the first
place and it just suddenly slipped for no specific reason. Like, there was
nothing that I had done differently that meant my recovery had been like
compromised, it just happened. So I was struggling a little bit with my mood, not
majorly, like I was okay, but it was something that was going on in the back
of my head. And at the same time Jacob was going to all these doctors
appointments because he had found a lump on his… I stopped to have a little cry and it
made me sound like I couldn’t say the word. Testicle. He found a lump on
his testicle. This is all quite traumatic for me as you can
probably tell so I think I’ve blocked quite a lot of it out. From what I
remember they thought it was an infection and they gave him some
antibiotics which he was taking for a while to reduce this swelling and I
think they put him on two different courses of that because the first one
didn’t work. He went back to the doctor again and they were like “it’s definitely not
cancer”, they literally said those words. They gave him some more antibiotics and
again nothing really happened so they decided to send him for some
tests and scans at the General Hospital. I went with him for that. I think it
was an ultrasound that they did. I didn’t go into the room I just waited outside,
but they couldn’t see anything wrong like, they saw this lump but they said it
didn’t look cancerous. Everything felt okay again for a while and every so
often I would go into this big mood dip again because something would come up
with Jacob’s health and I was like oh god what if it is cancer, but every time he
went to see some kind of health professional they were like “no, it’s not
cancer” and I would feel okay again. He just kept getting sent for more and more
tests and every time they were saying “there’s nothing wrong, I can’t see
anything wrong” and then suddenly, the one time that I didn’t go… I’d moved back
home for Christmas at this point. I think it was a 16th of December and I was at
my friend Mackinlay’s house and Jacob had this appointment for another… another
scan or another test. I got this text that was like “it’s cancer”. I wasn’t really expecting it and I didn’t
really know what to do. So this whole process leading up to this
diagnosis was so slow and then within two days there was an operation to
chop it off. Luckily, with testicular cancer,
it’s an organ which is quite easy to just kind of remove. They’re not
essential for survival and they’re kind of external so they’re nice and easy to
just get rid of. Maybe Jacob has a different take on this because
he was the one being cut into, but it felt like there was quite a lot of hope,
because it seemed as if they thought that it hadn’t spread anywhere and everything
would go back to normal. So that operation happened just before Christmas.
That was literally the most miserable Christmas of my life, just waiting to see
whether it worked or not. Deep down I really I guess I just thought it had,
because why wouldn’t it have worked? Literally the day I moved back to Southampton, Jacob had this test or a scan. It might have been a CT scan, I can’t remember. I
remember I was just waiting for his text to see how it went because I was in a lecture.
I should have gone with him, I don’t know why I didn’t. I can’t remember
what it said, but essentially it said “it’s spread, I’ve got to have chemo, I’m gonna
lose all my hair” and I just wasn’t prepared for that. I didn’t know what to do so I just left. I left
the lecture and went to Jacob’s and we just watched Finding Nemo. I can’t remember exactly
the timeline because, like I said, I’ve blocked most of it out. But Jacob
moved home because obviously they wanted him to be with this
family so.. Jacob was gone. He just moved back home
and I was left all alone in Southampton. I didn’t know whether to drop out or not.
I really, really considered it for a long time because I was obviously not in a
good mental state and I wanted to be there for him. We got into this new
routine where I would have my weeks in Southampton studying, I would do as much
as I possibly could during the week and then I would get the train home on a
Friday, back to Jacobs house and I would spend the weekend there, either at the hospital, but most of the time he didn’t have chemo on the weekend so he was just
in bed. I don’t really want to go into too much more but he had this chemo
treatment for a course of something like 12 weeks and I was there at the
weekends, trying to do I could, either to have a little bit of like a break from medical stuff and try to do something
fun, but most of the time it was just spending the day in bed, maybe watching a
film but we couldn’t really do much more than that. And I’m obviously really glad that
I did but it did mean that I didn’t really develop any of my friendships
that much because I was never in Southampton. People would do things on the
weekends and I wasn’t there, and if people were doing things in the week I
was trying my best to catch up with all the work so that I didn’t have to do it
that weekend. So I definitely isolated myself a lot for the rest of first year.
I couldn’t have been that fun to be around because no one really wants to be around sad
people. He’s now been in remission for three years. Everything seems to be
going okay, regular appointments at the hospital to check but so far so good.
Despite all of that going on I somehow managed to do really well. I think I
ended the year with something like 78 as my average, which is a high ish first. I
mean, I was spending quite a lot of time doing the work during the week, but I
wasn’t fully engaging with it. I was just doing it to get it done so I could focus
on everything else that was going on in my life. I think that’s more or less
my first year summed up. Obviously a lot more happened than that but I mean the
cancer stuff stands out a lot more than anything else. So now I’ll get back to
normal life and I’ll talked a bit more about slightly happier things. Hello, it’s
me again, so let’s move on to talk about my second year now. So second year
for me, I don’t know, it was a bit of a strange year. I was less into the academic
stuff. I think everything that happened in first year just put me in this really
depressive state and as much as I was trying to make the most of things,
I’m trying to get involved in things and throw myself back into uni life, I was
just a bit depressed and I think that reflected in my work, in my grades. For
second year I moved in with two of my friends from maths, Juliet and Amy, and we
lived in a flat that was kind of halfway between the city centre and the uni. Glen
Eyre, which was the halls I lived in, was so far out. It was close to campus but
it was so far out from anything else. So it was really nice to be able to just go
into the city whenever I wanted to. I had my bike that year so I would cycle
to uni, I could cycle into the city, I could cycle to Jacob’s, because at this
point Jacob had rejoined uni, he’d started his first year again. I tried to throw
myself into things and get myself doing things other than academic stuff, so I
went back to the feminist society which I hadn’t been to since Jacob had
left uni because I just didn’t have time for that kind of thing. I signed up to be a mentor
for first-year students. I ran a craft fair stall. Cos in second year it was
when I started my Etsy store. I just thought “why not?” I’m gonna have a stall
at this craft fair that was on campus and I was like super excited. I spent so
long preparing for it, making all this stock, and it was the week that everybody
had already gone home for Christmas so I made a total of £27. That wasn’t
even in profit that was just takings, so not the most successful thing but I’m really
glad that I gave a go. I did some traveling. I went to Dublin with Jacob, I
went to France with Jacob and his family, and I went to Berlin with Sophie, and I
actually missed one of my class tests because I went to Berlin which wasn’t
the most sensible thing to do and I wouldn’t recommend it to people but I
had a good time and I still passed my module so I have no regrets really. I did
miss a lot of lectures because of my mental health in second year and because I
wasn’t in a good place I wasn’t really motivated to catch up in my own time
either. I didn’t fall behind but I wasn’t learning as effectively as I
could be because I often was leaving things to the last minute, which
obviously isn’t the most effective way to learn. I still did really well for
second year. I got 69 which I was really happy with and obviously that’s so close
to a first that I think that was kind of my driving force for the next year
because I was so close to that first that I’d be really annoyed at myself if
I didn’t get it and if I’d finish with an average of 69 and I’ve been that
close, like one point off not quite made it. So third year for me it was this
massive push to get that first. I moved out of that flat. Juliet wanted to live
with her boyfriend for third year and Amy wanted to move back in with her
halls housemates so I had to find a new group and I found another group of
mostly maths people. We had an actual house which made such a nice change. I
mean, I was actually on the ground floor so I didn’t really feel the benefits of
having two levels but it just felt a lot more homely, it wasn’t just rooms along
a corridor. If you’re familiar with Southampton at all, we were in kind of
the St Deny’s area. It was about 20 minutes from uni. I didn’t cycle that
year though because it’s a big steep hill up Church Lane. I would not cycle up
Church Lane, I can hardly walk up Church Lane. If you’ve been here since
third year you’ll know that we had this cat called Tommy who basically adopted
us. He decided that he wanted to live in our house and I think all three of my
housemates were allergic to cats. But I miss him and I hope he’s okay. Academically
for third year, like I said, I was so motivated. I really, really wanted to get
that first. I don’t know where this sudden force of energy came from because
I did not have it before but it just suddenly appeared and I was ready. I was
just ready to learn. I wanted to learn everything, I wanted to really engage
with the content and understand everything. So the way I interacted with
the stuff we were learning in third year was such a change. It made such a
difference as well, I could really truly understand things. Like, before I
understood it, but this was a whole new level of understanding. I worked through
literally every piece of material that we were given on our course, any
questions we were given, any exercise sheets, I did them. At this point
they were all optional. They were just there for you to be able to learn rather
than being graded. But I did every single one of those, I tried all the proofs
which were left as exercises, I literally engaged with everything. Surprise, surprise –
the more you engage with stuff the more it goes in and I really felt that I’d
somehow made this breakthrough and suddenly it just all made sense to me.
The one thing in first semester that I didn’t like was that we had this
compulsory dissertation type module. It wasn’t a dissertation. It was called
Communicating and Researching Mathematics. Doing a presentation on a specific
subject and then writing what was essentially a dissertation. They won’t
call it that and I’ve been like “oh, I didn’t write a dissertation. I did a
shorter version”. But then actually when I look at my word count compared to other
people who do “real” dissertations, they’re pretty similar. I’m kind of glad that
wasn’t that heavily weighted because it was my lowest mark for the whole of
third year. There were a list of topics and you could choose ones which you thought
sounded interesting but then you were just randomly assigned one of the ones
that you chosen. If I’d had the option I probably wouldn’t have done it, and actually
I don’t think they do have to do it anymore. I think it’s an optional thing
now which is good. So that did drag my grade down a bit and I ended semester
one with an average of 69.5! I was so so close to that first, but
because obviously third year is weighted double what second year is, at that moment
I was on an average of 69.25, so it would have rounded down. So the
second semester was the final push and I really enjoyed that last semester. I
chose some really good modules, I think. As I said, I was super engaged in the
content, really taking things in and fully understanding them more than I
ever had. There was a slightly minor hiccup in the
fact that basically the whole of semester two was written off because of
the lecturers striking. The strikes started in February so I had a couple of
weeks of teaching which were normal and then one of my lecturers was completely
on strike, not replying to emails, not doing anything. We didn’t have any
contact with him so that module was interesting. Luckily the lecturer was
kind enough to change the way he did the exam so that it was only on the content
that we covered up to a certain point. So it didn’t end up affecting me too much
but I know a lot of people did get really badly affected by it because they
just had to teach themselves and they paid this £9000 and were
doing it all themselves. I also did a beginner’s French module for second
semester because I thought “it’s my last opportunity to be able to do something
like that, and I’ve technically already paid for it because I paid my tuition
fees”. I did a bit of research and I found out that I could take this beginners’
French. It was called French 1A – very basic stuff. If you do French 1A and 1B
that’s equivalent to a GCSE I think, so my level of French is very basic, what
you’d learn in year 7 and 8, but that’s fine. I’m really happy that I did it, I’m
really happy with how I did in it, and I really enjoyed it. I really liked being
able to learn a language again. For second semester I got 78 which I was so,
so pleased with. For third year overall it was 74, I think, and then my total
grade was a 72 ish. So a first! I got my first! I was so so pleased. When the
results came in I was sitting on my bed just there and I was on my own and I
just had a little cry to myself, because uni has been an experience. I’ve
been through a lot, I’ve changed a lot, I’ve grown a lot and I’ve worked so so so
hard. Thinking back to college it doesn’t seem that long ago at all, but when I
look at myself at college, even though I was in a very happy place, I’ve grown so
much since then despite everything. The world has changed
so much since I started uni as well, like when I started uni Brexit wasn’t a thing.
I didn’t even know what Brexit meant. Trump wasn’t President, David Cameron
hadn’t even put his dick in a pig yet. I think if I’d made this video coming
from the mental place that I was in after second year, it wouldn’t have been
so positive. I don’t know whether I’d have said like “yeah, I’m really glad I
went to uni”. But now, I’m so glad I went. I’m so glad that I just stuck it out
despite everything that was going on. The only regret I guess I do have is
that I had had the attitude that I had in third year in second year. I still got
my first and even if I’d worked harder I’d have still got a first so it
doesn’t really matter that much. I think I could have actually retained the
information a lot better. I know there are some people out there that are
interested in the maths side of things, so if you would like a video talking about
the actual modules I did, what we learned, how I did in them, then that’s
definitely something that I would consider. But I don’t I know… it’s not for
everybody, so if it’s not for you then please don’t feel like you have to watch
it. I’m considering doing it so if you would like to see that let me know. Thank
you for watching this video and sticking through the rambles and the tears
and all the blurry footage in the middle. That’s all from me for today. Thank you
so much for watching and I will see you very soon. [end screen music]