Why growing up can be tough, and why you’re still allowed to make up words.
School life tends to be very linear. You wake up begrudgingly at a set time every weekday; you spend most of the day studying and hanging out with friends; you get home sometime in the evening and eat/do homework/relax to varying degrees; you fall asleep at a time that’s socially acceptable; you repeat. And it continues like this, more or less, from the age of 5 till you’re 18. Come to university, and it’s a whole new ball game.
Suddenly your days are irregular. And non-linearity rules (unless you’re solving differential equations, in which case I wish you the best of luck). You’ve still got lectures and tutorials to attend but aside from those, how you choose to spend your time here is completely up to you! No teachers running behind you to make sure you’re you’ve got your homework. No parents to make sure you’re eating properly or check that you’re not going to bed at ungodly hours. Freedom!
But with all this excitement comes responsibility. Now this would be the perfect moment to deliver a Spider-Man monologue, but all I’m saying is that people expect you to manage yourself. This includes your studies, your interests, your free time, and your general well-being. And that’s actually a really big deal.
Your alarm didn’t ring and you missed morning lectures? It’s down to you to find the time to catch up otherwise you’re just setting yourself up for more work come revision time.
You forgot to go out and buy groceries over the weekend? Well, now you might end up spending a lot more for dinner than you bargained for. (Or you gloriously exclaim once you realise the fact that there’s a Sainsbury’s right around the corner that’s open till midnight and you’ve still got time to make some teriyaki chicken. Yeah, it’s the little things that bring joy to my life.)
Hopefully, you’re not reading this as some sort of ominous warning about the trials and tribulations of university life. It’s honestly not too difficult once you get into the rhythm of living here. It’s just that growing up, part of me thought I’d hit 18 and bang: I’d be an adult with a perfect understanding of how to live life. Turns out, that’s not really the case. To be honest, the older I get the more I realise that ‘getting it all figured out’ doesn’t really mean anything. You’re still allowed to have conversations about the most random of things like how being ‘up for something’ and ‘down for something’ mean the exact same thing (it’s weird right?), complain about how adult stuff is always too confusing, and laugh at corny puns (oh, you haven’t learned the meaning of punny until you come to university). Everyone just does their best to cope with what they’re doing and, for the most part, that’s good enough!
One of the fun things about living right in the middle of London is that there’s always something to distract me when I enter my hyper-contemplative philosophical mode. Last weekend, I had a whole lot of fun eating at Bar Shu, a Chinese restaurant specialising in Sichuan cuisine. As you may expect, they really do love their chillies and peppercorns. Here’s the chicken with dried chillies: