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Sex, Drinking and Going Out, Is That What Being a Student Is Really All About?

If the stereotypes are to be believed, student life is three years’ (at the very least) worth of sex, alcohol and nights out, occasionally interspersed with the odd lecture and exam period, at the end of which you’re handed a fancy certificate and a stomach-churning loan repayment plan.

There’s no denying that these things are a huge part of the experience; for many students, they’re exactly what attracted them to university in the first place.

But is that what being a student is really all about?

As a recent graduate reminiscing about my time at university, I’ve realised that, although the party lifestyle seemed important to me at first, it wasn’t what made my university experience. In fact, the most precious moments, like finding lifelong friends or becoming self-sufficient, had absolutely nothing to do with nights out or alcohol.

There’s more to being a student than casual sex and drinking every night.

Now, as I said, I hold my hands up. Back when I first started university, on a surface level, all I really cared about was exactly that.

It’s a lifestyle that’s hardly discouraged by ‘Freshers’ Week’ events, and it’s one that many a fresh-faced first year takes to like a duck to water. When Freshers’ Flu put the fun on hold, I wasn’t upset because I was ill, but because I felt like I was missing out while everyone else had fun without me.

However, this living for the next night out mindset was short-lived.

Over time, I started to appreciate more what was happening between those nights out. Every time my degree stepped up a gear in difficulty, or another thing happened in my life that forced me to face struggles I’d never had to face before, I realised that university isn’t about doing whatever you want, it’s about learning to do what you need to do.

It’s about having that initial taste of freedom, and then figuring out how to juggle it with actual responsibility. It’s about learning when to say yes and when to say no. It’s about making it look as though you know what you’re doing even though you don’t.

It’s about remembering to take care of yourself, budgeting for washing powder rather than shots and appreciating who your real friends are, not just the people you can get drunk with – because, let’s face it, once you’re drunk, everyone is your “bestie.”

Most of all, university is about, if not finding yourself, then finding your independence.

Yes, for many, having fun at university is almost as – if not as – important as the degree itself, but it’s not everything. It’s certainly no reason to accuse modern day students of having degrees in partying.

My priorities and perspectives have changed for the better over the past three years, and I feel pretty confident in saying this would never have happened if I hadn’t been to university. Not yet, anyway.

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